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The best two-minute career advice

Doing what you love is the safe option


I am sick of people choosing careers because they think they are safe. You know the careers I am talking about — Doctor, Lawyer, Dentist, Accountant — so traditional they only need one word. People are being steered away from their true talents into these traditional career paths, usually for their parent’s peace of mind.

You know what I think? There is no such thing as a safe career any more.

There are very few careers for life these days and almost no company can guarantee a job for life. The world is changing at such a rapid pace and careers are changing with it. For example, traditionally an accountant spent a lot of time with dusty ledger books and rulers, making sure everything added up to the cent. Now this job is done by computers (or even online in the “cloud”). The person who loved numbers and hated interacting with people all day now does just that as a business advisor.

There is also the more important meaning of “safe” — the health aspect. Career is important but it should never come before your health. A lot of these traditional careers demand so much of their employees — long hours, recording every 6 minutes of time spent, always driving for more money. When I worked as a lawyer, three of my colleagues were given time off for stress. Often people fight the feeling of not being in the right career because the money is too good or they value the status. But eventually you will burn out if you stay in a career that is not for you.

I think the herding of people into these careers is the pervading assumption that an Art degree is “useless” or being a writer “does not pay the bills.” It might not pay as much as a lawyer but you are trying to follow your path and this should be celebrated, admired and (hopefully one day soon) seen as normal. The concept of safety is an illusion that we use to comfort ourselves. I have met lawyers who really wanted to be writers (he had completed a novel), accountants who were really into design and dentists who would put Gordon Ramsay to shame. Life is too short to do something just to pay the mortgage!

In my opinion, the “safest” career is picking something you love. It’s safe because when you do what you love you show your best self each day and people will recognise this. It might feel risky but I believe it with all my heart so take a risk.

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