Choose a Career that is important to you!

Practically all of us go through a time in our lives when we are torn between what we know we want and need in a career, and what others say we should want and need.

Sometimes these internal wars are the result of near-constant media exposure. If, for example, you watch television for even half an hour, you will be pushed in all sorts of ways toward “the good life”: a bigger car, nicer house, better body.

At other times, the career “shoulds” develop much closer to home. Such as when your academic adviser says, “You’ll never get a decent job with a philosophy degree.”

You might feel pressured to cave in. That’s the easiest, fastest way to stop the unwanted advice and criticism. Then you beat yourself up for selling out on your wants and needs.

The only way to address the career “shoulds” is to identify your career-related values and look for a career that matches those values. You won’t be able to do that until you first turn off the voices of the influences around you.

Your parents
Of all the people in your life, your parents probably have the greatest impact on your career decisions. Perhaps your parents have come right out and said they’ll only help you with your tuition if you choose a practical, marketable major like accounting, while you have always pictured yourself becoming a writer or musician.

If you go into accounting for your parents’ sake, who is going to be stuck doing your job every day? Your parents? Of course not; it will be you.

Your friends
At some point, you have to ask yourself a critical question: Is your best friend—the one who cannot even get to class on time—your best source of career advice? Moreover, is your best friend so important to you that you will pursue the career he or she says makes sense for you?

Your instructors
Your biology professor might mean well when she says you have a gift for understanding the intricacies of cell structure and that you should consider becoming a cell biologist. It can be flattering to get that kind of feedback from someone. But unfortunately, your professor won’t be willing to do your job for you. The career path you choose better be one that fits you, not your professor.

The media
The people you see on television, hear on the radio or read about in magazines won’t be accompanying you Monday mornings while you ride the train to a job you can’t stand.

They may be telling you to chase all sorts of things via your career—money, power, status—and promising that happiness will follow. But remember: You will kick yourself when you figure out you’ve been running in the wrong direction for months … or even years.

You can ignore what is important to you in a career and get away with it for a while. Sooner or later though, the disconnect between what you are doing for a living and what you value in a career catches up with you.

Other people can tell you only what is important to them in a career. Only you know what is important to you.

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