Friday, 15 May 2009

Have you chosen the wrong career?

One of the signs of midlife crisis is the sudden realisation that you're in the wrong career. You realise that the work is meaningless and that you are wasting your life away. What you really wanted to do was ...

One of our most difficult life choices is choosing a career. The choice is difficult because it has to be made before you know what the career really entails. It is a little like selecting your life partner from a catalogue. Compounding this is that fact that the choice is made at a very young age.

The lucky few school leavers that already know what they want are able to focus on their career choice, but many people don't really choose a career at all. They leave school and find a job. Their career chooses them.

There are also some highly qualified professionals that feel that they are in the wrong type of work. They were pressured by family to do medicine, law or accountancy.

These are two scenarios based on real people. Only their names have been changed. Dr Toad retired at age 65. His parents had forced him into medicine and he became a General Practitioner. He never enjoyed it. He welcomed retirement. He had always wanted to be an accountant.

John Lesse qualified as a dentist. His practice was very busy and he earned a lot of money. He bought properties and businesses, but was never happy. He hated spending his day gazing into patients' mouths. One day he chanced upon some research that revealed that a higher proportion of dentists committed suicide than members of any other occupation. That was the deciding point. John did not want to become another statistic and decided to change course. He sold his practice and joined the world of Information Technology as a beginner. The dentistry money has all gone, but John is happy.

How do we know that we are in the wrong career? In the right career you look forward to spending the day at work, you are stimulated and rewarded and learn something new every day.
When in the wrong career work becomes a curse.

Some of the signs that you are in the wrong career are:
  • You have to force yourself to get up in the morning to get to work.
  • You spend your days wishing away the time until the next weekend, the next holiday or retirement.
  • You find yourself avoiding your work as much as you can.
The effects of being in the wrong career can be quite devastating. With no enjoyment in what you do, life becomes very stressful. The standard of your work may drop and your reputation becomes at risk. Many people experience this phenomenon. Work has become a daily grind, something has has to be endured. High levels of stress result in a lowering of the auto-immune system and health problems may ensue.

The option to change career is the obvious solution but few have the courage to change career in mid-life. Those that do are often successful in their new-found roles, but many struggle to find employment in their newly chosen role. The business world does not make it easy to change. Recruitment specialists want experience. Who wants a 40 year old trainee?

There is a classic belief that if you do what you are passionate about you will succeed. The successful musician that does what she loves and gets paid to do it is the classic example. But success does not always result in material reward. The world and history is full of such stories. Vincent van Gogh sold one painting in his short life. He lived in poverty. While he may have succeeded artistically, he certainly failed financially. Many would have told him to change his career.

Sometimes the right career is wrong simply because it is unable to produce the kind of rewards required. Some change course simply to improve their financial status.

There are times when it is not the career that is wrong but the attitude of the subject.
If you are able to change your career for something that you really want to do, then go ahead. But if the financial sacrifice is too great, then an attitude change can work wonders.

Perhaps a change in attitude could solve the problem of being in the wrong career. When you have made the wrong choice then the best option is to do everything you can to make the most of that option.

Life is too short to waste time pondering on what might have been.

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