3 Common Career Mistakes People Make
- Monday February 29th, 2016
When you’re planning a career, it can feel awfully like carving a declaration into stone: painful and inescapable. This causes anxiety, stress, and a great deal of self doubt because for most people there is so much riding on our decision.
From evaluating the prospective job market and the economic conditions to assessing our own suitability for the occupation, there’s a ton of technical analysis to be considered. Often we can get caught up in the scrutiny creating analysis paralysis and forget about our heart and happiness.
Rest assured — it’s all a matter of perspective. Planning a career can be energizing and enlightening, if you choose to look at it that way. Like life, a career can be the journey — not necessarily a destination.
We’ve compiled the most common mistakes people make when planning a career:
- They Choose an Occupation, Not a Vocation
The most common mistake is that people choose an occupation over a vocation. What’s the difference you ask? Looking at the source of the word occupation from early 14c it means “fact of holding or possessing.” On the other hand the word vocation stems from the early 15c meaning “a spiritual calling.” A vocation simply put is a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career. When we choose an occupation, we’re choosing a job; a position that meets our requirements such as salary, status, and environment but we’re overlooking our internal desire to fulfill a calling. Some might call this choosing a job instead of a career.
Do: Invest in exploring your interests. The more experiences you have the more chances you get to learn your likes and dislikes. Pay attention and start tabulating the work, people, and environments that stimulate you. Soon you’ll have common threads and themes.
#ProTip: be honest with yourself, there is no wrong or right answer.
- They Chase Status (and the money, honey)
A lot of people choose jobs because of status. Status meaning some sense of social or professional standing that makes them feel important. They’re most often subscribing to someone else’s definition of success and it often sounds like this: “If I have money, I’ll have the car/house//lifestyle to be respected/loved//valued and then I’ll be happy.” It’s a matter of self-worth. If you don’t have the smarts (or courage!) to explore your vocations and desires then you’ll most likely end up choosing status out of fear. It’s much easier to say, “I’m an Investment Banker” than it is to say “I’m an Artist.”
Do: Eliminate the word “should” from your dictionary. It’s useless. “Should” enforces other people’s ideals on your life (and decisions!) Open up and work on creating your own definition of success and make a point to take care of your heart and not just your wallet when planning a career.
#ProTip: Check out Danielle LaPorte’s methodologies on defining success on your own terms.
- They Rush It
When I graduated high school, 95% of my friends rushed out to college or university the following September – most of them choosing either business or general studies. And in my opinion, business may as well been general studies since most of them had no idea what they’d do with a Business Degree at the end of it anyway. I’m a big fan of not deciding when I can’t decide. Deciding to “do nothing” until you know what to do is far more effective use of your time. When my crowd was enrolling in classes, I booked a trip to Europe (to see what they knew, after all) because I knew General Studies would be a waste of money. Travelling provided to be lessons in sociology, finance, history, and culinary. After that it took me another five years’ for my vocation to come calling. But I didn’t rush it. I had some interests based on my personal and professional experiences so I took a college course to see if I’d like learning more about my interests. Then I took another course and then one more. I took my time because — well, why not? I wanted to enjoy the process and be sure it was the right path.
Do: First off, breathe. Consider that GenX’s, Millenials, and GenY’s are predicted to have as many as three different careers in their lifetimes which thankfully means that you don’t need to choose one job for the next fifty years. Consider that you are a fluid being who will learn, grow, and change and that you can use all your life experiences to find a vocation.
#ProTip: You’re not late. You’re right on time.
Erin Bailo, Career Advisor.
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