Choosing the right career path in business and life
We receive many words of wisdom and advice from our mentors and colleagues regarding how to find happiness in our careers.
One piece of advice is to “find your passion.” This mantra might apply to some and is a worthwhile endeavour for those who know their passions and can successfully commercialise these interests.
However, many talented individuals have passions that provide creativity and challenge, but do not generate enough income to pay the bills.
I also believe a vast majority of people do not know what their passion is or may not have a passion.
When we look at employees who are happy in their careers, few have had a straight trajectory, instead most have explored a number of different avenues until they have landed.
It can take a while with many experiences before we figure we discover where we feel we are making a meaningful contribution. Besides, how could academic teachings provide a true flavor of your chosen discipline until you are actually immersed in the field? Besides how could academic teachings provide a true flavor of your chosen discipline until you are actually immersed in the field?
What career path should you choose when seeking happiness?
Passion and ability are not always linked. I would love to have been a sax player or a great vocalist. I am passionate about music. I am also tone-deaf, and no amount of passion will allow me to excel at either.
When my clients seek career advice, I suggest they find something they can excel and flourish.
Everybody has talents whether it’s as a coder, writer, plumber, statistician, strategist etc. When you find something you are good at, then it comes naturally and you see yourself as adding value. Value to your organisation, and your team. You then become a desired commodity.
This puts you at a competitive advantage. Your profile is raised, and so is your currency. Being valued is the most important driver for engagement and investment in your role.
So to engage in the exact same thing for 90,000 hours might lead to diminishing returns. You might be fatigued, burnt out, or just plain bored.
How many careers should you expect to have in your lifetime?
It is advantageous to consider that you might have many careers in the course of your lifetime.
Remain curious, continue to explore different fields and build your network. You will most likely end up shifting your interests more than once.
This will allow you to stay engaged and enjoy new challenges. A journey of multiple careers is highly rewarding. You then recognise that your talents are not singular but rather plentiful.
So my advice to you is find something you are really good at, because when you do, the returns are great. Recognise that you may embark on a few careers over the course of your life based upon market demands, your personal commitments and the evolution of your interests and values over the course of your life time.
People who have had many careers are fascinating to talk to, they have many interests and have multi-faceted skills. They give us permission to be many things.
Just remember although you may enjoy doing the same thing for 40 years the road to happiness likely has many trajectories. For those of you who have a varied career path, you are welcome at my dinner table any time.
Cindy Wahler, PhD, C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specializing in executive coaching and talent management. She can be contacted at email@example.com.