Ten Career Myths Your Teachers Lied to You About Exposed

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Maybe it is not your career that is stressful, but instead your job that is the problem. If it is your job that makes you anxious then try to find ways to improve the situation. If this doesn't work then change jobs.

Sometimes it may be the career itself that is the problem. Do not be afraid to change careers if you have to. People nowadays change careers for various reasons. Many adults go back to school to get the necessary training for their new career. The important thing is to determine which career best suits you.

It is important to find a job or career that makes you feel good about yourself. Do not just take a job because the money is good or because it will impress your friends. You're the one who has to go to work every day, so find something that you like to do and also will pay the bills. It will take some work, but eventually you will find something.

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I can hear it clear as day. I was only about 7 years old but one of the earliest lessons I can remember that still hangs over my head like a cloud full of acidic rain is that I "have" to be consistent as an employee. 

"Find a career that pays the bills and stick with it, Jenn."

I was taught that no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how draining, no matter how toxic the environment was, no matter how unfulfilled I felt in what I was doing that I was to under no circumstance just leave and go elsewhere. I remember being told that employers wouldn't hire me if I had too many jobs on my resume as it was a sign that I was unstable, inconsistent and could not be trusted to be a "team player". To this day when drafting a new version of my resume, I find myself subconsciously altering timelines and removing jobs that where I was not employed long. If you looked at my resume right now you would think that I've only had a total of 4 jobs in all my 32 years of living. But this isn't true.

In fact the one thing that I have learned from all of my various employers who also happened to be entrepreneurs and small to mid sized business owners was to never stay at any job that doesn't make you happy. I'll never forget the time my employer, a startup tech lawyer who started his law firm right out of college, said to me during a meeting that the worst thing he ever did was waste two years of his life trying to fit into someone else's clothes (place of employment). He also advised me not to go to law school and not to get my Master's Degree because it was a waste of time. We'll get to that another time. Here's what else I learned from him.

Career Myth #1: You can’t make a living doing something you really, truly love

This is the grand-daddy of career myths, the belief that you can’t have a “practical” career doing something that you were passionate about. It has to be one or the other.

This myth is rooted in nothing but fear. But not your fear. The fear of others. One of the things I’ve learned is that people love to project their fears onto others. Sometimes it’s unintentional while others time it is intentionally done out of fear that you will actually succeed and jealousy that you have the courage to actually make moves that they are too afraid to make. Don’t buy into the myth that you can’t earn a living by doing what you love.

When I first started exploring my entrepreneurial aspirations, I heard from so many people that it would be difficult (and in a lot of cases damn near impossible) to make a living doing this work. I got so confused that I found myself no longer doing what “I” wanted to do because I was constantly revising my mission statement and goals to align with the “advice” given by others (usually unqualified) about what I should or should not be doing.

Sound familiar?

If you find yourself buying into this take a step back and answer this question –
As you look back on your life, what will you regret more? Following your passion or following your fears?

Career Myth #2: It’s a tough job market/economy

Even when the newspapers and other news sources say that unemployment numbers remain steady, that job growth is at a standstill, or that we’re experiencing slow economic recovery, not to mention downsizing and outsourcing, don’t believe it.

Everybody is hiring. E V E R Y B O D Y.

For the right person with the right skillset and qualifications, the options and opportunities are plentiful. You will and can find something.

Has it become harder to find opportunities in certain industries? Yes, of course. But the myth doesn’t reflect the whole story and completely erases the fact that that it’s a different job market today. It’s a changing economy and hiring practices have shifted. What makes it tougher is that we’ve been slower to change (I’m talking to you – Mr. Corporate Exec who refuses to use to social media for brand growth because back in “your day” y’all did “x, y…and z”).

We’ve held on to old practices and old behaviors. That’s not to say that old ways still don’t work, but they’re just not as effective and more than half of these existing companies need an intense makeover.

Career Myth #3: Changing careers is risky | Bouncing from job to job shows you are unstable

What’s riskier than leaving what you know to pursue the unknown? Changing careers means leaving behind a piece of your identity – your “I’m a lawyer” response to the “what-do-you-do?” question. It might mean admitting to yourself that you made a mistake with an initial career choice. Or it might mean acknowledging that you’re unsure of what’s next. And smart people always know what’s next, right?

Newsflash: Successful career changers often don’t have a plan.

I have been a paralegal pretty much all of my “adult” life. It has always been my “pay the bills” career and for the most part I have enjoyed it. I didn’t take a liking to the media and communications industry until I was 6 years and 2 major changes in and you will never guess what sparked the interest. Blogging. That’s right. Running my mouth about stuff that was none of my business on Facebook.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, is riskier than not changing careers if you’re longing to do so. Here’s why: The longing won’t go away. It will always be there, under the surface, waiting for you to do something about it.

Career Myth #4: Always have a back-up plan

Sometimes having a back-up plan is the smart and prudent course of action. Back-up plans are so grown-up and responsible. But what happens when you’re standing with one foot in and one foot out? In my experience, we usually close the door and retreat. We are reluctant to commit to ourselves, and we end up denying ourselves the satisfaction of playing full-out, getting dirty and sweaty. We end up with feelings of regret and the nagging “What if?” question.

Back-up plans diffuse our energy. Diffused energy equals diffused results. Give all that you’ve got to your dream/passion/risk and you’ve got a better chance of being successful.

Career Myth #5: There’s a perfect job out there for everyone

How long have you been searching for yours? You just know, deep inside, that there’s an ideal job that’s perfect for you out there. It matches your personality, skills, and interests to a tee. And it pays well. If only you could figure it out. If only you knew what it was.

Is there a perfect job out there for you? No. And here’s the good news – there are more jobs than you can imagine that would be “perfect” for you. Chances are you’ve even come very, very close to a few of those perfect jobs already. So what happened? And how do you recognize one of these so-called “perfect jobs”?
Ever see the perfect gift for someone, but it was months till his or her birthday? Then when you go to find the item later, you can’t. Another lost opportunity and you, once again, berate yourself for not buying it when you first saw it.

I have probably run into a perfect job several times over in the past, but because of the timing, I passed by the opportunity. Or I was so focused on something else, that I missed an obvious clue.

Career Myth #6: Asking “What’s the best thing for me to do?” is the right question

This is one of the most common questions asked when considering a career change or a career move. It seems like a logical analysis – weigh the pros and cons and evaluate the balance.

Do not ask yourself this question!! Especially if you are a Libra.

I promise that this question has screwed me over SO many times. So much so that I ended up having to completely step a back just to get a moment of sanity.
It rarely leads you to the answers you’re seeking. It will lead you to feeling overwhelmed with options (sound familiar?), or feeling like you have to choose what’s practical over what seems to be impractical.

The question should be what is it that YOU WANT to do. Again, unless you are Libra and then either way…you are screwed because you probably have a million things that you want to do and you want to do them all.

Career Myth #7: If you don’t like your job, you’re probably in the wrong career

Cause and effect, right? One way to tell if you’re in the right career is whether or not you like your job. If you’re dissatisfied with your job, it’s probably a sign that you need to re-examine your whole career choice. I’ve heard this so many times throughout my life and quite frankly I’m tired.

Hearing this repeatedly will eventually make you feel as though something isn’t right (with you) because you don’t like your job especially if their isn’t anything particularly “wrong” with your job. This logic enforces that a persons dissatisfaction is a symptom of a larger underlying issue – their career choice.

This is an example of false logic.

Not liking your job might be telling you you’re in the wrong job. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the wrong career. It doesn’t even mean you’re in the wrong job. You could just be working for the wrong person or the wrong company.

Career Myth #8: Everyone needs a mission statement

Do you know what your mission is? Me either. It changes as much as the wind changes direction.

Mission statements are “supposed” to guide us, keep us on track, and help us move forward. But what if you don’t have one? Does that mean you’re destined to never fulfill your potential career-wise?

Here’s a little tip: If your mission statement is elusive, stop chasing it. Be still and let it find you. And in the meantime, keep living your life and see what happens.

Career Myth #9: Expect a career epiphany

When you see a link to “Find Your Dream Job,” do you immediately click on it to see what’s there? Do you look at every “Top Ten Career” list out there to see if anything catches your interest? Do you know your MBTI type? If you do, you might be falling prey to the career epiphany myth.

Most people don’t have that kind of epiphany until they are in their later years. Most people call it a “life crisis”, I like to think of it as a “life awakening”. This is when you get to a point in your life where you realize that you haven’t done a third of the things that you actually want to do and you have a true “YOLO” moment and finally just start doing it.

It’s okay. You have time. (Totally talking to myself as well here).

Career Myth #10: Ignoring your career dissatisfaction will make it go away

Oh, if only this worked in the long run!! Granted, it does work at first. When you find yourself beginning to question your career, you’ll find it’s rather easy to push the thoughts aside and pretend they aren’t there. You know what I’m talking about: the “what ifs” and the list of regrets.

Over time, the random thoughts become nagging thoughts. You spend more and more time daydreaming about options. You build your list of reasons to ignore your growing career dissatisfaction:

  • You’re too old.

  • You don’t want to take a pay cut.

  • You don’t want to go back to school.

  • You missed your opportunity 5, 10, 15 years ago.

With clients in this situation, we work on identifying and challenging these fears. Sometimes the fear of change remains, but there becomes a greater commitment to living than to feeling the fear.