Do you have only one true career? And if you miss it, will you be doomed to unhappiness at work, or a gnawing feeling you should have chosen a different career?
Choosing Careers–Not a one time thing
Not if you are a man I’ll call Tom. Tom, in his late 50s came to my class. Unlike some midlife career changers, he had no complaints about his current work. When he completed college, he became a high school teacher for about 15 years. Choosing a career helping kids learn worked out very well for him. He loved it. But after 15 years, he had more career ideas he wanted to explore, other passions to turn into careers. He decided to move on. He loved cars and opened up a car detailing company. That succeeded. He loved that too. And almost on schedule, about 15 years later, he was ready to start work on choosing his third career, which is why he came to my class. By the end of the class, he had decided he was going to go into a home remodeling business with his son. Third true career.
Lots of people change jobs and careers all the time. But his story was a great example of someone consciously choosing a sequence of authentic and passionate careers that were meaningful to him. Multiple career visions.
Choosing careers that don’t exist…at least for you?
You might say, that’s fine, but every time you think about choosing a career you’ll love, you get depressed because you know it’s impossible, so it isn’t about any sequence of passions but not being able to get any to materialize. Maybe you want to open your own travel agency and can’t get the money, or you did open it but couldn’t get enough business. Maybe, you are like one woman who asked me a question on a call in show where I was responding as a career life coach. She HAD found her ideal career, and she had been living it. She was a farmer. Her problem was that an illness had made it impossible for her to continue farming.
In these cases, the lesson of Tom is relevant. You are a mix of lots of passions, and the world is so complex, there are so many ways to express those passions that any one career idea–even if it doesn’t work out or no longer works out–can be altered and leave you fully satisfied. In other words, you are a complex being with so many ways to express yourself that you don’t have to fear being shut down. You can almost always generate new, passionate career ideas.
You can look to other passions as Tom kept doing. Or you can find out what you most loved about being a farmer or becoming a travel agent, or whatever it is, and try to find a different way to express that in a work setting.
For instance, it turned out that the farmer also loved kids, so she could write about her experiences as a farmer and even about overcoming her illness and disappointments for a motivational and educational kids’ book. Maybe what the potential travel agent loved about opening an agency wasn’t booking standard flights to Chicago and San Diego, but helping people find exotic adventures.If so, maybe our travel agent could talk to an existing travel agency and see if they might be willing to offer a specialty in exotic travel that he could run. Maybe he didn’t really want his own agency with all those headaches anyhow. He just wanted to do something out of the ordinary. Or he might decide he could fulfill his passions another way by serving as a tour guide to unusual locations.
In short, yes–do look for what you really want to do and go after it with great enthusiasm and persistence. Don’t give up easily.At the same time, you have to be flexible and creative to find the best and most realistic ways to express that passion and contribute your talents and gifts to the world.