If you fantasize about changing careers but never take action, you may be operating under the premise of a career myth. In this essay, I dispel ten falsehoods, assertions you may have heard previously that are simply not true. Let us investigate them.
Career Myth 1: You cannot earn a living doing what you genuinely love.
This is the granddaddy of professional myths: the assumption that you cannot have a “practical” career while pursuing a passion. Either one or the other is required.
This is a fear-based myth. Fear that we will have to give up our happiness in order to survive. Contrary to popular belief, you may earn a job doing what you love.
When I first began coaching, I was told by numerous people that earning a living doing this profession would be extremely difficult. I just resolved to seek out successful instructors and learn from them (easy, eh?).
If you find yourself believing this myth, consider the following: When you reflect on your life, which will you regret the most? Are you following your passions or your fears?
Career Myth 2: The employment market/economy is difficult.
Even if newspapers and other news organizations claim that unemployment remains stable, that job growth has slowed, or that we are seeing a gradual economic recovery, let alone downsizing and outsourcing, do not believe them.
It is a myth because it does not reflect the entire reality, including the reality that the work market has changed significantly in recent years. The economy is shifting. Our transitions between jobs are unique. Employment practises have evolved. Thus, the employment market has shifted, but this does not always mean that it has become more difficult. What makes it more difficult is that we have been slower to adapt. We’ve clung to outdated techniques and behaviours. That is not to claim that traditional methods do not work; they simply are not as effective.
Therefore, I challenge you to simply believe that the employment market is ideal for you to find work. I’ve had several of my college students attempt this for a week, and more often than not, some of them obtain employment leads or develop significant contacts within that week.
Career Myth 3: Switching careers is dangerous
What could be more dangerous than abandoning what you know to pursue the unknown? Changing occupations require you to surrender a bit of your identity – your “I’m a lawyer” response to the “what do you do?” query. This may entail acknowledging to yourself that your early professional choice was a mistake. Alternatively, it may imply recognizing your uncertainty about the next step. And intelligent individuals are constantly aware of what’s coming next, correct?
Not at all. Successful career transitions frequently lack a game plan. Herminia Ibarra shown in Working Identity: How Successful Career Changers Transform Fantasy into Reality that waiting until you have a plan is actually riskier than just doing and trying.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, is riskier than not pursuing a career change if you desire one. This is why: The yearning will not abate. It will always be there, lurking beneath the surface, waiting for you to act.
Career Myth 4: Always have a contingency plan in place
Having a backup plan is sometimes the wise and reasonable course of action. Backup plans are quite mature and responsible. However, what happens if you stand with one foot inside and one foot outside? Generally, in my experience, we close the door and withdraw. We are unwilling to commit to ourselves, and as a result, we deprive ourselves of the enjoyment of going all-out and getting dirty and sweaty. As a result, we are left with regret and the nagging “What if?” question.
Our energy is diffused through contingency plans. Dispersed energy results in diffused outcomes. Give everything you’ve got to your dream/passion/risk and you’ll increase your chances of success.
Career Myth #5: Everyone has the perfect job.
How long have you been on the lookout for your own? You simply know, deep inside, that there is an amazing career out there for you. It is a perfect match for your personality, abilities, and interests. And it’s lucrative. If only you could decipher it. If only you had a clue as to what it was.
Is there a job that is ideal for you out there? Not at all. And here’s the good news: there are more jobs available to you than you can imagine. Chances are, you’ve already come dangerously close to a few of those ideal jobs. So what transpired? And how can you identify one of these ostensibly “ideal jobs”?
Have you ever seen the ideal gift for someone but realized it was months away from his or her birthday? Then, when you attempt to locate the item later, you are unable to do so. Another missed opportunity and you chastise yourself for not purchasing it the first time you saw it.
Thus, you may have come across a fantastic job in the past, but due to the timing, you passed it up. Or perhaps you were so preoccupied with another task that you overlooked an obvious clue. Rather than concentrating on what cannot be changed, resolve to keep your eyes open and to see beyond the obvious.
Career Myth 6: The correct inquiry is “What is the best course of action for me?”
This is a frequently asked question when contemplating a career shift or a job shift. It appears to be a rational analysis – weigh the advantages and disadvantages and determine the balance.
Do not pose this question to yourself!! It rarely leads to the solutions you seek. It will leave you feeling overwhelmed by possibilities (sound familiar? ), or as if you must pick between what appears to be realistic and what appears to be impractical.
The question that will guide you to the solutions is straightforward (but not simple!!). It is “What do I truly desire?” This is a distinct question from “what is the best?”
Career Myth 7: If you dislike your job, you are most likely in the wrong field.
Isn’t it a case of cause and effect? One indicator of whether you’re in the correct career is how much you enjoy your job. If you are dissatisfied with your employment, it is often an indication that you should reconsider your entire professional path. This is usually what new customers tell me when they decide to work with a career coach. They are aware that something is wrong since they dislike their work. Their logical conclusion is that their dissatisfaction is a symptom of a more fundamental issue – their career choice.
This is an illustration of erroneous logic. Disliking your job could be a sign that you’re in the wrong position. This does not always imply that you are in the incorrect career. This does not necessarily imply that you are in the wrong job. You can simply be working for the wrong person or organisation. Distinguishing the root of dissatisfaction requires talent, and I believe it is exceedingly difficult to do on your own (shameless advertisement for career coaches here!)
Career Myth 8: Every professional should have a mission statement
Are you aware of your mission? Mission statements are intended to serve as a guide, to keep us on track, and to assist us in moving forward. However, what if you do not possess one? Does this imply you’re doomed to never reach your career potential?
A successful professional contacted me at a career crossroads. She believed that if she could only discover her life’s purpose, she would know which job path to choose.
She had a specific objective in mind for coaching – locate her aim! Rather than that, the most incredible thing occurred. She determined that she was not in need of a mission. She opted to believe that she was already carrying out her mission statement, despite the fact that she had no idea what it was. After the client moved her attention from discovering her mission to living her life, she was presented with an incredible opportunity, which she pursued.
Here’s a quick tip: If your mission statement is illusive, put an end to your pursuit. Remain still and allow it to find you. Meanwhile, continue living your life and observe what happens.
Career Myth 9: You should anticipate a career epiphany.
Do you quickly click on a link to “Find Your Dream Job” to check what’s available? Do you peruse every “Top Ten Careers” list available to determine whether anything piques your interest? Are you aware of your MBTI type? If you do, you may be falling victim to the illusion of career revelation.
I’d love, love, love it if the majority of my clients experienced a career epiphany that articulated their next step in crystal-clear terms. Rather than that, I frequently witness professional “unfolding” or a voyage of discovery. That is, being willing to listen intently to the whisper within and not disregard the obvious, the pokes, and prods. Yes, forget about harp music and angels; for the majority of us, the career revelation occurs in the form of a gentle whisper.
Career Myth 10: Ignoring your dissatisfaction with your career will make it disappear
Oh, if only this worked throughout time!! To be sure, it works initially. When you begin to doubt your career, you’ll discover that it’s rather easy to brush the thoughts away and pretend they never existed. You’re familiar with what I’m referring to: the “what ifs” and the list of regrets.
With time, random thoughts develop into nagging ideas. You’re spending an increasing amount of time wondering about possibilities. You compile a list of justifications for ignoring your growing dissatisfaction with your career:
You are far too senior.
You are not interested in taking a pay cut.
You’re not looking forward to returning to school.
You blew your opportunity five, ten, or fifteen years ago.
We work with clients in this situation to identify and challenge their fears. Occasionally, fear of change persists, but a greater commitment to living replaces the fear.
Now that you’ve established that one or more of these myths has been impeding your progress, what are you waiting for?