How do you choose or change a career?

For most men, our careers are a big part of our lives. That’s what we spend most of our waking hours on, how we make our livings, and, just as importantly, are a big part of how we identify ourselves to ourselves and to others. But, over the course of a lifetime, many folks make major changes in careers, either out of necessity or from feeling out of place where they’re currently working.

So, how are we supposed to know if the decisions we’re making about our careers are the right ones, or whether we should make those changes at all?

Do not let choice paralyze you

Unless you’ve been literally conscripted into your current job, there was at least some element of choice in your current career or lack thereof. Sure, there were pressures along the way, from parents, friends, school, and society at large. But, even under those pressures, at some point, you might have come to the conclusion that the choice you made was at least somewhat arbitrary.

And, to some extent, we have to recognize that we have, so far, made choices that are arbitrary and could have been otherwise. If you’re middle age or so, and have been in the same career for several decades, for example, you are still playing out the consequences of decisions that you may have made when you were sixteen or seventeen. Looking back at my life, I can say with confidence that, at that age, I knew very little about life and even less about what kind of career I would be well-suited for.

With that in mind, the idea that we can simply choose to stay in our current position, or make some other, new choice, can lead to paralysis, and people feeling trapped in their current careers. And, understandably so: the career you have has, at the very least, gotten you to the point you’re at today.

But, it’s also important to recognize that you are good at more than what’s in your job description. The talents, skills, and personality traits that have carried you thus far in life can almost certainly be applied to something else. To be a decent educator, for example, a sharp memory, some public speaking skills, and a lot of organizational talent go a long way. Those same things also make for a good foundation for a freelance writing business.

Thus, it’s certainly possible that, were you to try something totally new, you might well be able to apply the skills you already have in ways that are effective or recognize ways in which those skills should evolve to your new environment. You’ve survived the consequences of one somewhat arbitrary choice, and it’s likely that you will do well having made another, too.

Leave a Comment