THE STUDENT LIFE

4 questions I wish I asked when choosing my career

The most successful people didn’t do things by the book.

Just the other day I was trying to get a clear perspective on specific dates in my life and decided to use my past employment as the timeline.

As I mentally noted my many jobs, and the years employed in them which I spent trying to find out who I was and what my career should be, I experienced a heaviness in my chest and an overwhelming feeling of frustration and despair.

To be quite frank, I feel depressed looking back and remembering the years I spent making (not so great) money to survive. And worse, feeling so purposeless and empty in those jobs; they were only jobs and never were they careers, or passions, or my calling. I would find myself distracting away my uninspiring work days by planning the next studies I needed to complete for the next career I wanted to pursue, all in the hope that I would finally feel fulfilled.

I constantly felt trapped: I had not completed a degree and I needed to make money, but I wasn’t great at balancing both.

It didn’t help that I always chose jobs beneath my worth; I’d accept lousy pay, take on the workload of two people, or would become a people pleaser so to prove I was worth keeping employed.

I knew there was so much more and it terrified me that I might never find a job I felt at home with – one that felt ME – and that I might wake up at 70 realising I’d just wasted my best years.

All in the hope that I would finally feel fulfilled.

If I’m really honest, the real problem I had was some majorly limiting beliefs, which included the belief a university degree would make all the difference (I can now say a degree isn’t always the answer) and the belief that you walk into the perfect career, rather than creating one.

I don’t regret the endless studies I did and the time I spent trying to work out what career I wanted: inevitably it’s all lead me to this place. However, I feel if I could save one person from the torment (and time) it’s worth sharing my insight.

During that process I lost my sense of what was truly possible and, looking back, I believe if I had asked these four questions my journey would have been shorter:

1. Am I expecting my career to resolve feelings of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfilment?

I thought my life would be sorted, perfect and complete once I found my ‘perfect’ career. I thought it was the holy grail: the answer to my dissatisfaction.

I’ve now realised it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Your career is not the only answer to success, happiness and contentment: your career is just another means to express yourself, connect with others and provide value to the world.

I constantly felt trapped: I had not completed a degree and I needed to make money, but I wasn’t great at balancing both.

Essentially, fulfilment and satisfaction come from two important practices: your contribution to the world (because when the world knows you, you will truly know yourself) and from continual self growth because, as Tony Robbins says, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Many people desire a career that will give them success, money and recognition; however, the truth is they aren’t just after this end result, they’re actually chasing the feeling attainting those things may get them.

For example, they don’t just want the money, they want the feeling money gives them – freedom.

They don’t just want recognition, they want the feeling recognition gives them – pride.

This begs the question, what feeling are you ultimately pursuing?

Freedom? Peace? Joy? Security? Excitement? Love?

At the end of the day, you need to know how you want to feel to know what you must to do to have it.

By doing this, you’ll also get very clear on what careers won’t give you that feeling.

2. Am I cutting off certain careers because of a limiting belief?

Maybe it was what my friends said, or society and the teachers in school, but I ‘learned’ that you “Don’t make good money in creative jobs” and that limiting belief pretty much killed off most careers I’d fantasised about in high school like being a film director, cinematographer, creative director, photographer and graphic designer etc.

But here’s the thing, you CAN make money from creative jobs. And, bonus: creative careers are amazing, fulfilling and super satisfying.

In fact, creative careers are worth far more than their perceived monetary value; they provide exceptional depth to the world in the form of beautifully designed buildings, inspirational songs, awe-inspiring paintings, and stunningly executed performances. There are people making money and a living from being creative and if they can, you can too.

I thought my life would be sorted, perfect and complete once I found my ‘perfect’ career. I thought it was the holy grail: the answer to my dissatisfaction.

At the end of the day, you can make a career out of anything that provides value to others, fills a need or solves a problem. Your potential career is only limited by your imagination.

Simple as that.

3. Am I choosing a career because of what I think can get?

It’s a little embarrassing to admit but when I was thinking of possible careers I was only ever thinking about myself.

Even though it might have been subconscious, I was definitely thinking, “What’s in it for me?” or “What will I get from this?” and it was, more often than not, all about the potential earnings I might make.

The day I swapped my thinking from “What can I get?” to “What can I give?” everything changed; I instantly became inspired, creative, and excited.

What do friends come to you for? What comes so naturally to you it’s like breathing? What’s the one message you’d want to leave the world with? I KNOW you have one. I know because I was sitting on one myself, scared because if I acknowledged it and was truly honest with myself, I then might have to take action.

There are people making money and a living from being creative and if they can, you can too.

I was also scared I may not be liked –  Yep, still thinking of myself.

4. Am I killing off other passions for my “perfect” career?

Another false belief I had was believing just ONE career could/should satisfy all my needs and that, just like a lucky dip door prize, I was only allowed to choose one.

Lies.

I’ve since realised I’m shocking at choosing just one thing and put too much pressure on myself to find my one, shining, perfect career – a career that should meet ALL  my need. Ridiculous.

Once I realised this I discovered that I was – and always will be – multi-passionate. I now have two start-up online businesses, a blog for women who grew up in dysfunctional homes, I build websites on the side, I write, and I coach. It’s a lot but I like it that way. You might not be the same and that’s perfectly fine, but you need to ask yourself whether you’re killing off other passions before shutting the door to other opportunities.

Your potential career is only limited by your imagination.

If you’re like me it’s important not to let your multiple passions die because, like me, they may lead you into unchartered territory and something incredible.

The most successful people didn’t do things by the book: they followed their intuition, their visions and they took risks.

4 questions I wish I asked when choosing my career
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