Confucius’ immortalized wisdom, namely “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”, is a trap; not because it is by any means false. Rather, it is premised on the erroneous assumption that we are capable of determining what career path we will like in the long run. We are most definitely not and science says so. In fact, often, we find ourselves trapped in jobs we barely tolerate because we thought we liked them at first.
Is there any way to navigate this conundrum then? Perhaps the first step is to come to terms with the fact that making wrong career choices is normal, somehow a part of human genetic makeup. Here is some additional food for thought:
Don’t be conned by overhyped professions
We often have unrealistic perceptions of certain professions. We see hot-shot lawyers leading seemingly dream lives or market-leading entrepreneurs being revered for their business acumen and achievements and we day-dream, pining to walk in their shoes. What lies beneath is much more complicated, however. There is nothing glamorous or dream-like about the sacrifices they made to get where they are. We think that the grass is greener on the other side. False; the grass is greener where you water it.
Don’t choose a career, choose a lifestyle
Ask yourself the following: “Money aside, what kind of life would you like to lead?” Most of us would love to run our own booming business, be our own boss and manage our time however we liked. We think of the destination without considering the truly awful life we would have to live to get to that point. The stakes in high paying jobs are staggering and the minimum requirement to avoid catastrophic failure is absolute commitment. Are you willing to live a life of utter risk for the foreseeable future?
Don’t commit to one path.
This may confound you, but job hopping is not such a bad idea. If the job doesn’t fit, you should be open to trying out alternative paths. Changing a number of jobs until you get it right is not the end of the world. If anything, it will offer invaluable lessons that may resonate with the right job.