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7 Common but Bad Reasons to Choose a Career

7 Common but Bad Reasons to Choose a Career

You’ve just finished school and you stand at the cross-roads of life. The employment choices before you seem endless.

You’ve been wrestling with the question of who you want to be when you grow up for years now, but answers like “a fire-fighter” or “an astronaut” seem either insufficient or unrealistic.

Or are they?

The difference between your career aspirations between when you were 10 years old and present day is largely due to a layer of social conditioning which has began to cloud your thinking.

While some of it may be useful, a lot of it is also going to set you on a path towards career dissatisfaction. Here are the top 7 motivations to look out for.

1. Status & Money.

Close your eyes and imagine being a lawyer or a banker. Do you see yourself wearing a pin-stripe suit, rolling in your new BMW to an office tower where your name is on the door?

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Do you want people to say “wow!” when you tell them what you do? Be honest with yourself. Money, as great as it can be, is not enough to keep you interested feel fulfilled in your job.

2. Perks & Validation.

Closely related to status and money, a desire to feel important and approved of can easily cloud your judgement when choosing a career.

It’s true, the CEO might get treated differently than an entry level marketing intern, though it’s a mistake to think that a senior position is a permanent shield from disapproval.

To someone who is just starting out, it might seem that CEOs spend their days having their whims catered to, going to lunch meetings, travelling and doing exciting deals. In reality, the more senior the position, the more it requires facing disapproval and criticism.

Companies which adapt swiftly, grow quickly and solve real problems in the world often have people at the helm who spend very little time indulging in perks of their job and a lot of time making hard decisions and dealing with the damage which doing their job results in.

3. “But You’re So Good At It!”

Just because you’re good at something, that doesn’t mean it’s a wise career choice.

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When you’re at the starting point of your career, employers don’t expect you to be overly skilled — they’re very much aware that your professional background isn’t very extensive.

Hiring managers look for culture fit first and skills second. During interviews, they’ll be testing you to see how aware you are of your core values and what motivates you to join their team.

They’ll assume that they’ll have to teach you most necessary skills during the first few years. In fact, you’ll have a better time at work if you feel like you’re pushing your own limits by being on a steep learning curve.

4. Following Your Friends.

So your buddies have already finished college and have gone into real estate. They say that they can pull some strings to get you an interview with the company.

What could be better than going to work with your circle of friends? It would be almost like College 2.0, except you’ll now be getting paid for it, right?

Wrong. If the job isn’t intrinsically meaningful to you, your friends will quickly become the people you gossip with about how bad the job is. Some of them might be in positions of leadership by that stage, which will mean that if you keep up that act, you’ll lose them as friends, too.

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5. Making Your Parents Happy.

This is also often a quest for status and validation, except one that’s fuelled by your parents. Some parents want you to set off on a career path, just so that they can have bragging rights at the golf club.

“My little angel is now a neurosurgeon … we are so proud.”

‘Nuff said.

6. Job Security.

Some careers (medicine, law, management) have traditionally been viewed as more secure than, say, photography and graphic design.

That might be true to some extent, though the notion of job security is no longer a valid concept for you to base your career on.

Job security is no longer a right — it’s something that has to be earned and maintained, in any field. Only by contributing above and beyond what your role requires will you be able to guarantee not only job security, but demand for you, as well.

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7. Because You’re Interested In It.

I’m interested in coffee. I love good coffee and I love asking baristas questions about origin of the beans, roasting processes and trying to figure out whether my espresso on a particular morning has more hints of spice or leather.

I sometimes get carried away in this little obsession and begin to think that one day I’d like to open a cafe.

That thought lasts only as long as I get myself present to the realities of such a job. Would I want to wake up at 4am every day to open the shop by 6am? Would I want to deal with broken fridges, leaking pipes, pest control regulations, permits, short-tempered customers and the roster of a small team of casual employees?

No, thank you. I admire people who do it and I know it’s not for me.

Similarly, as you set out to choose a career, I suggest you consider the everyday realities of your future job, regardless of how interesting it may look to you on the surface.

Featured photo credit: Phil Chambers via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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