Choosing a career path can be tricky – you must consider money, your passions and the lifestyle it involves. You can talk to people in the field, read various books, or do an internship to find out about the work. Actually doing the work will give you the most clarity by far.
I did an ‘international studies and journalism’ degree because of my love for history, political thought and writing, but I realised after graduating that although I loved reading about these subjects – working in real-world politics, is not the same, requiring a completely different skill-set or even personality.
I don’t regret choosing those subjects at all, I enjoyed most of my classes, did my assignments well and took studying more seriously than ever, all because I was genuinely interested in my subjects. As my marks increased, so did my newfound confidence in academics and work in general.
“The key to success isn’t is all the things we do, but in the handful of things we do well.” – The One Thing
After a few chats with people in the political realm, I gave up on the idea and did a couple of magazine internships instead. While that kept my writing going, it took up too much time and left me feeling unstimulated by the end of it. All the fiery motivation I had in college was quickly simmering down and I needed to re-spark it fast. In order to get that jolt of stimulation I dived right into law school, and for the first couple of years, the intellectual stimulation was unbeatable.
Observing the courtroom, long hours researching new things and meeting people who were dedicated to their work, was refreshing. But overtime, I felt like all the creativity in me had been drained out, making me feel more and more unlike myself. The sheer act wearing a shirt and pant, sober nails and a boring up-do, every day, made me feel dull inside. I had always expressed myself through clothes, the act of choosing an outfit made my brain tingle I then realised lol. That’s not to say you can’t do those things as a lawyer, but for whatever reason it didn’t work for me.
Author Gary Keller in the bestselling book, The One Thing describes his dreadful time at work as him being perpetually “clenched” or “playing” success, and that is exactly what I felt like I was doing. I had a satisfactory job from the outside, but I was struggling on the inside, and not the good kind of struggle.
“I was truly beginning to think that the secret to success was to get as tightly wound up as possible each morning, set myself on fire, and then open the door and fly through the day, unwinding on the world, until I literally burnt out.”
The law work on its own was interesting but, the ridiculous deadlines, office setup and my dwindling self-worth made it very difficult for me to find my place within it. I quit law more than two years ago, and here I am today, still writing and enjoying every bit of it.
My story is every parent’s nightmare – having their child switch paths so many times, but after that experience I really, truly understood what, “you grow when you leave your comfort zone” meant. I learnt so much of what I liked, loved, appreciated, needed to avoid, and it’s made me a better decision maker today, giving me a stronger sense of who I am.
What should YOU do?
Like I said before, do the job! Do a job, whatever you’re offered, or whatever speaks to you the most. An internship would be better, so you have the option to leave if it’s not for you. Whatever you choose to do, it will teach you something valuable about yourself. Speak to as many people in the field, you could shadow them, read books about industry and ask for recommendations.
Our interests are always changing, so don’t bind yourself to them when thinking about a job. My experience of going from internship to internship, taught me that the people I work with matter almost as much as the work itself. If I’m working with people that understand me, comfort me (if need be) and appreciate me, I could do the hardest tasks. But put me on the most exciting project, with a grumpy, uncooperative team, and we will get nowhere. It’s good to be interested in your work, but most of the time, we love what we know… and that could be determined by a good team.
During your initial years of work experience, keep a look out for these things: do you work better in a team or alone? do you need to go to an office to work, or do you thrive sitting at your desk at home? Does your boss inspire you? Do you want to be in the place he/she is one day? This may give perspective on how you might proceed.
If you’ve already settled into a job that you’re not necessarily passionate about, it’s not too late to leave and do something else.
“… he turned his passion for painting into a skill, and ultimately a profession, by simply painting one painting a day….. passion for something leads to disproportionate time practicing or working at it. That time eventually translates to skill, and when skill improves, results improve. Better results generally lead to more enjoyment, and more passion and more time invested. It can be a virtuous cycle all the way to extraordinary results.” – The One Thing
Some say be grateful and happiness will follow, but when you finally get to do what you love, gratitude always follows joy.