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Career Planning Myths

There are a lot of myths about finding the right career. This list breaks down a few and why you shouldn’t believe them. Finding a career isn’t a simple linear event; there are a lot of steps in every direction, sometimes even backward. A lot of time and effort should be put into finding what works best for you.

  1. A career is an irrevocable decision. — The U.S. Department of Labor estimates you will have 11 jobs spanning three different careers before you retire. Those numbers make sense for a few reasons: people find better jobs, career fields become obsolete, and economies fluctuate. The point is, you’re going to change careers; it may be your choice, it may not be your choice.

  1. Choosing a career is simple. — If most people go through at least three careers, then it can’t be that simple. Choosing a career is a lot more than looking at potential earnings or doing something you love. A love of basketball and desire to make money doesn’t mean an NBA contract is in your future. Even if that did happen, one bad injury and you could need a new option. Compromise can be difficult, but is sometimes necessary.

  1. Choose a career where you can make money. — You need money to survive; it’s how society works. You, however, do not need to base your whole career on the concept of making money. A career in finance could be lucrative, but if you hate it, the money might not be worth it.

  1. You can't make a living from your hobby. — This is a bold-faced lie. People have made their career playing video games. Woodworking and sewing are hobbies that easily can be turned into careers. Websites like Etsy make it possible to sell handmade items. If your hobby is running, find a local running shop and start sharing your passion with others. Fixing classic cars can be a very lucrative business if you’re good at it. The point is, hobbies can be careers.

  1. Follow your passions, and you’ll be happy. — If your passion is helping others, but you can’t handle the sight of blood, nursing isn’t a great option. If you love kids but are afraid of public speaking, teaching might not work. Don’t give up, just do your research. Or find a career you enjoy and follow your passions by volunteering.

  1. Pick your career from a “best” list. — Best for whom? UX Designer and Nurse Practitioner are on lists of “best” careers. But that doesn’t mean they are the best for everyone. For one, they are both careers that take certain skills and passions that not everyone has. Besides, there are more than ten “best” careers.

  1. Your friend's career will be your career. — You’re probably friends for a reason, and that reason is most likely because you’re not the same person. Pursuing a career path because it is someone else’s passion is a great way to find something you hate doing. Working with friends when you’re in high school can make work go by faster; doing the same as a career option might just mean you always feel like you’re at work.

  1. Your career coach/counselor/test can tell you what to do. — They can help find options, but they’re resources to learn from, not tools to make it happen. Finding your career is your choice and responsibility. No matter what someone else says, you’re going to know if the job is a fit for you or not. Use tools like coaches or tests to help sort out ideas, but don’t rely on them for answers.

  1. Everything will fall into place. — This goes back to why so many people have so many different careers. Finding a career you enjoy doesn’t mean it will last forever. It also doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it. Even if you love what you do for work, that doesn’t mean that you love your job. Maybe you conflict with your coworkers, or the environment isn’t your kind of place.

  1. You won't know anything until you start working. — Talk to people in a career field you're interested in. Ask questions, shadow someone, take an internship if you can—all are great options to learn more and see if it fits you before signing a contract. Not everyone loves the first thing they try, it's why ice cream shops offer samples. It's also why you should do as much research as possible before signing on the dotted line.

Finding your dream job and the perfect career is going to take time and effort. You’re more likely to find a few jobs you can’t stand before you find the right one. And that’s OK; everything is a learning experience.