Man dressed in lots of different career outfits

Why all the fuss about careers is misleading

Tasha Horton People

The concept of a career has plagued generations for centuries. We all seem to have this obsession with finding the perfect “career”. It has to be something we love, it has to have progression opportunities, it has to be long term. With all this criteria it’s easy to see how people could become overwhelmed particularly in this limited job market.

I for one admit to having been overwhelmed by this idea. I spent so many years at school on what seemed like a futile hunt for that dream job. Spoiler alert I didn’t find it, despite pressure from the school I was still clueless. So I went on to do a psychology degree, in the hopes that it would inspire me. But yet again nothing.

This cycle of searching and feeling overwhelmed by my lack of career ambition didn’t end until I fell into my job at Prompt PC. I never in a million years would have guessed I’d end up in marketing, it kind of happened on a whim. If you’d have asked me 10 years ago, it was never something that crossed my mind. But I surprised myself and I enjoy it and this is where my obsession with careers ended. I realised the search for the perfect career you love with a passion, with endless career opportunities doesn’t really exist and that to find something you enjoy sometimes you need to switch it up whether that’s when you’re 21 or 51.

You don’t need to love your job

When I say, love, I mean an all-consuming, light up your world passion that inspires and drives you. This kind of love, concerning a job very rarely happens and even on the rare occasion it does that person is still going to have days they hate their job. Searching for something so rare and fleeting is just going to make you more miserable.

Instead search for something you’re good at and enjoy may be more attainable. This can be anything in the world, you may enjoy fixing computers, chatting with customers, grooming animals, stacking shelves whatever it may be that you’re good at and gives you satisfaction. You might take a few tries to find and you might even grow to enjoy something, but setting more attainable goals to your career means you’re less likely to become disheartened.

You don’t need to keep climbing the career ladder

How many people want to progress on the career ladder because they think they will enjoy the next level or because they’ve had it so drilled them that a successful career means promotion? In fact, the Peter Principle tells us that promotions are not always a good thing. The theory behind the Peter Principle is that linear promotion does not work because you’re usually promoted upwards based on your competency. However, the job above you might not suit your competency (i.e. engineer to engineer manger – those are two very different skills) and just because you’re competent at one does not mean you’ll be competent at another. If you’re promoted into a job you’re not competent at you’re going to be unhappy because you won’t enjoy it. As such linear promotion is not always to your benefit.

If you’re in a position you enjoy there is no reason why you can’t stay there. If you’re doing a good job and enjoying it what’s the rush to move onwards and upwards? Or in fact if you enter a job with very little or no upwards prospects again there’s no problem, if you enjoy it there’s no reason to leave just for a promotion.

You can jump around as much as you like

There’s this weird principle that you have to be steadfastly committed to your job for your whole life. Once you’ve begun your career well that’s it, no more career changes for you. But that’s just not true, no matter your age you can switch it up whenever you like. Go from IT to art or art to animal care or animal care to astronaut. Follow your enjoyment, just because you started your career somewhere doesn’t mean you can’t end it somewhere else. You haven’t signed a lifelong commitment and preferences and enjoyment change. What you once found enjoyable may seem mind-numbingly boring now and that might be a sign to move on not stick it out.

 Your career is yours to define

Essentially you shouldn’t let anyone else decide what is and isn’t important for your career. If you’re happy and enjoy your job don’t let anyone think you have to keep on climbing or that you’re in the wrong job because you’re don’t vehemently love it 24/7. And if you don’t love it, switch it up, don’t be afraid to make a change especially if you’re going to enjoy it more. Create your own expectations, your own goals and define your own career.

Tell us the story of your “career” to inspire others 🙂