I think sometimes we put way too much pressure on ourselves to get it right the first time when it comes to our careers. Once we make that choice of what to do with our lives, our ego kicks in and we remain dogmatic about sticking with it no matter what, hating the fact that maybe, just maybe, we were wrong.
For me, I bumbled my way through 10 years of really disliking my work before I made a change. I completed an Economics degree at University because I was good at Economics at school. I had no idea what kinds of jobs were available with that degree, or if I would even like the work. I always loved writing – for years I wrote poetry and short stories, and I always kept a journal, fantasising about one day being a successful writer. I remember talking to my Mother about studying journalism one day, and she told me there were “no jobs” in journalism, and that all the people she knew that had studied journalism ended up being English teachers. I remember this conversation so clearly, as it totally put me off. In hindsight I should have thanked my Mother for her (extremely well-intended) opinion on journalism, and went ahead and studied it anyway. Being young and unsure though, opinions of my loved ones mattered – often too much – and I wanted to please everyone else!
After job-hopping too many times to remember, searching for that one illusive job that was going to be “the” job I would love, it wasn’t until I had my daughter, Veronica, that I decided I was not going to return to my (rather unsuccessful) career in the finance world. I was 31. This was a huge moment for me and I have never regretted it. I retrained as a career and life coach, and set up my own business. I can now say that I truly love what I do. I help people find careers that really suit their personality and interests, or I work with them to find ways to love the careers they are already in.
My advice is this – do what you want to do. Live your own life. Make mistakes and recognise that if you get it wrong, it is okay to change your mind and try something else! Be fearless in your career choices and don’t play it safe. So many clients I see in my practice ask me what industries have the most jobs, the highest pay or the best prospects, and I tell them to forget all that and choose something they have a passion for, something they will truly enjoy – because we sure are “at work” for a very long time. And if you are that well-meaning parent, take a step back from your child’s decision-making process. Be there to support whatever your child’s decision is – even if it seems, to you, to be the “wrong” choice. Let them figure it out.
I’d love to hear from you! Are you in a career that you love? Did you get it right the first time? Please post your comments below.