Finding a career you love

Let’s first rephrase the title of this blog to: crafting a career you love.

'Finding' a career is often mistook as a search for something concrete. Often this search comes with a sense of urgency, too. But you don’t stumble across a great career suggestion through a mere Internet search. The ‘find’ option on Google search may not satisfy your quest to ‘find your passion’, ‘find your true calling’, or ‘find a great job’! Listening to motivational talks or reading quotes that reinforce your sense of entitlement to a great career will also not get you there. You will have to work for it, take chances, make tough decisions, gain meaningful experiences, and develop linkages before you are able to identify where your true potential lies, and what you are intrinsically carved for. Unfortunately, so consistently have we been fed the ‘follow your passion’ mantra that we almost feel entitled to a career we love, and pay no heed to anything less than ‘what we [think we] deserve’.

Careers are not made overnight

A career is when you start off as a receptionist; are promoted as an administrative assistant; find a job elsewhere as an executive assistant; and become the Chief of Staff someday. The years of administrative support experience that you thus gain will familiarise you with the working of multiple departments, equip you with a diverse range of skills, and help expand your network. You might eventually end up being the CEO of a company or initiating your own venture. All these stages put together is what you call a career.

So if you are trying to equate with your career, a job that sucks, chances are you will end up being dissatisfied. Worse still, you might just be missing a great career opportunity because you are not looking at the larger picture.

Your degree doesn’t have to determine your career choice

Finding work that is relevant to your degree may seem the obvious choice for someone who has spent four [or more] years studying a certain discipline. But honestly, what were your reasons for choosing a major? Your parents thought it was the right thing to do, your friends were choosing the same major, it sounded cool, people in that field were minting money, or worst of all, you couldn’t get into a major or college of your choice?

Even if your choice was led by your ‘passion’ or ‘interest’ in a subject, a job might be a lot different from what you had expected. People make a career of something least relevant to their degree all the time [I did] for a crazy number of reasons including lack of employment opportunities, greater earning potential, or finding something they enjoy more. You can too. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

Passion is misunderstood

If you can’t get over the advice to ‘follow your dream or passion’, you need to go through a reality check. Passion is almost always paired with work, but a lot of times, it doesn’t pay too well. A great career, on the other hand, should ideally be one that offers you a reasonable [if not great] lifestyle and enables you to pay your bills.

In his blog post on doing what you love, Seth Godin is brutally honest about what that might entail. It has so much to offer that it was tough selecting just a few sentences to share here. While I do that, I would still suggest you read his blog.

He writes, ‘That passion you have for graphic art... perhaps making your painting commercial enough to sell will squeeze the joy out of it.’

He continues saying, ‘‘Maybe you can't make money doing what you love (at least what you love right now). But I bet you can figure out how to love what you do to make money (if you choose wisely). Do your art. But don't wreck your art if it doesn't lend itself to paying the bills. That would be a tragedy.’