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Is our career-choice our own?

Once young, ‘saving the world’ did not seem far-fetched and we kept dreaming about the day we would have enough power, money and status to do so. Then came the day we had to make a choice with regards to education, and many if not most of us, went for options that was prospected to bring a stable income by national and international career experts. Some of us sighed, dreaming about a different path in life. Taking into consideration that work or being at work constitutes 2/3 of our lives, career choice will in effect mean making a decision about something that is likely to dominate large parts of your life. Clearly, character and education form important factors in choice of career but so do public demands. So is the choice of career really yours? 

Certainly, one has to plan for economic survival and that will to some extent affect choice of occupation and career. A colleague once said ‘I am a lawyer and I made this choice for my family not to suffer economically, but my dream has always been to become a poet’. So does a “safe” choice prevent us from being happy and go for what is an “accepted” career choice? Societal standards for “decent” things to do in life force many of us to get trapped into choices of what others feel we should do, understood as what is perceived acceptable. However, a career choice is a serious matter. It is inevitable about who and what you are, what defines you and in the end your call and mission in life.   

Family background will to some degree affect our choices when it comes to education and later occupation, as will influence from friends. So will trends in society and media created expectations. Yet, when looking at how the traditional workplace has changed, clearly it leaves open more choices as to how we live and structure our careers. Freelancers and consultancies are becoming more normal and accepted forms of employment. In many sectors we also see downsizing of staff contracts. This in effect also opens up more choices and offers more flexibility as to how you choose to structure your career, yes and in fact your entire life. 

Many work hard with jobs they do not love doing. There is no need to spend your life doing something you don’t like. Finding out what you love doing, forms the key in making the right career choice. In other words working hard with something you love doing is a pleasure not an oak. To make the right career choice, you must know yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, interests and skills. What really motivates you is a key in finding your place. The right career choice will help you find meaning in life. Confucius expressed it this way, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

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