Wrong Ideas We Have About Our Careers

July 16, 2018  |  
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Sometimes, the way that career paths are portrayed in films and television really bother me. I was recently watching a romantic comedy in which the main character said, “I can’t still be an assistant at 28!” and, low and behold, by the end of the film,ly this 25-year-old was promoted to a much better position. I laughed out loud when she said that because I know plenty of 28-year-old assistants. I know plenty of 38-year-olds who are assistants. Life doesn’t always work out the way it does in quirky films. Sometimes all the moxie, late hours, and great ideas in the world don’t move you forward at the rate you’d like to go. There are always 30 other people with a little more moxie or, just, family connections at the company. I don’t like the dangerous idea that we should have all “made it” by 30. I believe, today, in this economical climate, it’s more realistic to move that number to 40…and it’s even more realistic to being open to things just not going as planned at all. Here are totally wrong ideas we have about our careers.

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Knowing what we want when we’re 22

We’re supposed to know what we want out of our lives and careers when we graduate college? Yeah right. We chose our majors when we were 18—we were babies who knew nothing about what we wanted. And then we’re supposed to follow on the path that 18-year-old selected. A lot of people wind up not working in the field they studied, and that’s okay. It’s definitely okay to sample several jobs in your early and mid-twenties before committing to one field.

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Ever knowing what we want

Okay let’s be honest, some of us never figure out what we want out of our careers. Some of us never determine what our dream career would be. But you know what? We find joy in other, non-professional areas of our lives. We make it work. We realize how silly it is to attach so much of our satisfaction in life to work.

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The first years should be miserable

Your first few years in a job don’t need to be miserable. You don’t have to accept bosses who are verbally abusive, inhumane hours, and terrible pay. Always look for something better. If you must take a terrible job to cover expenses for now, do, but apply to other work on your off hours. Don’t believe that “that’s just how it is” in your first few years at a job.

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One job should be enough

Not only is it possible that one job won’t be enough to cover your expenses, it’s also okay to take on extra work. There’s no shame in driving Uber a few hours on the weekends to build a nest egg. You have no idea how many people are doing that.

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There’s only one way

There is not only one way to climb the ladder in your career. There are so many ways. You don’t have to go the assistant path—you can bartend at night while slowly building your own business, in the industry you love, and technically start at the top that way.

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Starting over is a bad thing

Life is too precious to stubbornly stay in a field that you hate just because you’ve already spent a lot of time in it. There is no shame in starting over. Who cares? Really. Who cares? Wouldn’t you rather be a coffee runner at a company you love than a partner at a company you hate?

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There’s an age to “hang it up”

There’s no such thing as having to give up your dreams if they don’t come true at a certain age. So many people found success quite late in life. Why give up at…40? Or 45? That big break could be one or two years away, and you got yourself here. Do yourself the favor of continuing towards your dreams, always.

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You can’t have a life and a career

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you this. They just chose to make their careers their lives, and now they’re miserable, and misery loves company. If you are good at what you do, people will respect that you don’t take phone calls after 7pm and you do take vacation with your family.

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You must be cutthroat

Being a conniving, manipulative, and highly competitive b*tch is not the only way to climb up. You can be one of the good ones who lift others up. There are some gatekeepers at the top who are also good and kind—they’ll recognize you, and they’ll lift you up.

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You can never take a break

Yes, you can. Here’s the truth: you are either irreplaceable, in which case, the world can always wait if you need a break or you are replaceable, but that was true either way and one day, you were going to be replaced. So don’t live a limited life in fear of being replaced.

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A “No” means you weren’t good enough

Well that’s just ridiculous. A “No” could mean that the person doing the hiring owed someone else a favor and hired that person’s daughter. A “No” could mean that they actually think you’re perfect for the job, but they found someone willing to take crap pay who is good enough.

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Job security is real

Oh, not at all. You never know what’s coming, or who is doing what behind the scenes to sabotage things, or what wrong decisions the powers at be will make that mean pay cuts and lay offs. Always save money with the idea that you could one day be unemployed for half a year.

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A “Yes” means you can coast

Making it to the top means…well, nothing. There’s no such thing as a top. There’s always another level. Just because you’re at the top doesn’t mean you can coast. There will always be people vying for your job so always stay informed, keep educating yourself, keep learning the new technology or whatever you need to know to be at the head of your game.

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You’re too young for something

If you truly feel ready for an opportunity, then don’t not pursue it because you think you’re too young. If you’re right for it then you’re right for it. You never know—maybe nobody else asked for it because they, too, were insecure.

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You’re too old for something

This is a useless thought. What are you going to do about that thought? Become younger? Don’t ever make excuses for the deck of cards you’ve been dealt. Just play with them, the way you want to, the best you can.


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