September 14, 2011

The Social Medium: 5 Reasons Why Your Career is Going Nowhere



1) You have no idea what you're doing.

It's okay. This is the most common answer. Most people, never mind students, have no idea what they are doing. University does not pepare you for a job or career. It is a place to learn, discover, and get a higher education. College, trade schools, and diploma/certificate programs are usually more apt to suit your needs in building a career.

When you graduate, you can have unrealistic ideas and expectations of what you are worth. Most likely, you are not qualified to do much of anything. So get qualified. Find the experience. Hustle. Do what it takes. If you don't think it's worth it then don't do it. Find something that is and do that instead. You only have one life. Time is far too precious to waste doing something you shouldn't be doing.

2) You hate what you do.

You hate your job. You hate your career or industry. You hate your peers. Why are you doing what you're doing? Get out. Like I said, Life is too precious to do something you hate everyday. Sometimes, you genuinely enjoy your work, but when you do it for a living everyday, you can learn to hate it quickly. My humble advice is to figure out what you actually want to do and how to make money doing that instead.

I often tell confused students to figure out what they would do if money was not a concern. Something you do or would like to do everyday as a hobby, interest, or passion usually leads to a promising career. We have illusions about certain work and career paths. When you're grinding it out, working long hours for little compensation, paying your dues doing something you love or are genuinely interested in, it doesn't feel like work, and things move much faster.

And if you hate what you're currently doing and want to get out, be careful. Desperation stinks and is a huge turn off in any circumstance. Employers want to work with motivated people with confidence and direction.

3) You're only in it for the money.

Don't do it. Seriously. Just don't. Money isn't everything and when you're only doing it for just that, it shows. It shows big time. I really can't stand peers or colleagues who are looking to make a quick buck and take advantage. I do what I do because I genuinely enjoy it and those just in it for the money undercut my work.

Sometimes it astounds how foolishly people are attracted to certain career paths hoping for fame and fortune. I've done writing, broadcasting, journalism, and politics. None of these professions are at all lucrative to get into. And there are certainly much easier, less stressful ways to make money. Do something you enjoy and love and it won't be work. Also, be realistic.

4 You have no plan.

Planning is difficult and perilous. If you're successful, plans should change quickly. However, you should set realistic goals and develop a loose, flexible strategy on how to attain your goals. Talk to other people. Early on, I talked to successful career professionals whose careers I admired. I asked them about their life stories and experience, how they got where they are, and tried to replicate their formulas for myself.

Take your time and research your chosen career, its plus sides and negatives. Be thoughtful. It is highly unlikely our generation will stick to one profession forever. Think about options as you get older and how your work will adapt to changes in your life such as home ownership, marriage, children, etc.

You by no means have to plan the rest of your life. I barely know what I'm doing week to week sometimes, but make sure you have at least a vague idea. When all else fails, fall back on your plan.

5) You offer nothing special (yet).

You are probably not special and those in industry certainly don't think so. Everyone thinks they are. You know what I say? Prove it. You need to stand out, but what most people, especially students, do is try far too hard to seem special. Sometimes, the best way to stand out is to show up (on time), do your job, do it well, and when the opportunity presents itself, shine in the moment.

I would attribute a large portion of any minimal success I have attained to being reliable, professional, and honest. A good standing and lasting impression trumps any a remarkable first one. While not everyone might not be "special". Everyone certainly offers something unique and extraordinary. Your job is to maximize those qualities and minimize any negative ones.

No one has any idea what they are doing starting out. Work hard, shut up, and make opportunities happen for yourself. It's entirely up to you. It's your life so take control of it.

Photo | Mark Klotz

1 reactions:

Rick Chung said...

Brilliant post.

Re. "develop a loose, flexible strategy on how to attain your goals": I went through a co-op program in university and tried my hand at several different industries. In the end, what I found out was that I enjoyed any career/job that would 1) allow me to write and communicate and 2) give me the chance to work with great people. It was a great thing to find out because I knew that any career I considered would have to meet these criteria, and luckily for me, all the things I'm doing now do!

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