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Whose Career Are You Living?

There are many ways we might end up in a career. That doesn't mean we can't make a change once we know it no longer suits us.

I was chatting recently with someone at a networking event. The person happened to be an accountant and I was curious how he chose that field. He said it was the same field that all his siblings were in, and that his father was an accountant as well. He didn’t gravitate towards it as much as he felt obligated to take it up, at his father’s urging.

Did he enjoy being an accountant?

“Well, sometimes I think I’d rather do something else, as accounting isn’t that exciting to me, but I feel I’ve been doing this for a while and that a change would be difficult.”

It isn’t unusual for people to follow a career path that doesn’t excite them. We get involved in careers for a variety of reasons. Maybe we liked the subject matter when we were younger, or a teacher (or parent or career counselor or favorite uncle) said we’d be good at it. It’s a family tradition to go into it.  Sometimes we simply went for it because there were no other opportunities on the horizon at the time.

However you ended up in your current career, you may get to the point where you want a different one. Maybe your values have come into focus and you want something that’s more aligned with your heart. Or it’s no longer challenging or enjoyable. (Yes, it’s perfectly okay to want a career you enjoy. Work need not be drudgery.)

Whatever the reason, the first thing you need to realize is this: It’s YOUR career and you’re allowed to change it, regardless of how you got there!

Most of us will spend nearly 100,000 hours on the job over the course of our working life. You might as well enjoy what you do.  

In our society, career choice is frequently based on skill competency and financial reward, not fulfillment and living our values. This pushes many people into careers where they feel out of place and unhappy.

I’m not saying that money shouldn’t figure into career selection. Only that making a career choice based primarily on earning potential can leave you feeling empty, much like working for a company whose values you don’t share. Likewise, possessing the skills for a particular career doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy that career, as the work might be uninspiring.

In the end, if your career just doesn’t feel right and you’re unfulfilled it just may be time to consider a new career that’s a better fit.   You only go around once, and you spend much of your life working, so you might as well spend the time in a career you enjoy.

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