In the United States, it is estimated that only 31% of Americans consider themselves to be happy with their current life circumstances. While there are a wide variety of reasons that 69% of citizens feeling dissatisfied with life, it is certain that the unhappiness of many individuals stems from their professional working careers. This truth becomes overly apparent by connecting the dots of wellbeing, work, and time-usage statistics in the United States.
Reputable survey data tells us that everyday Americans between the ages of 24-54 spend nearly nine hours of weekdays on work related tasks, yet over 50% of citizens claim to be unhappy with their current job. When you add in the fact that individuals spend roughly seven to eight hours sleeping each night, it means that Americans spend nearly 60% of their awoken time in life working in their professional career.
Since we spend such a large portion of our lives working, it is imperative for us to find professions that we are truly passionate about. Unfortunately, cultural conditioning, peer demands, and ill-advised career advice cause many to walk down the wrong career path. By understanding how individuals are often lead into a career that isn’t best suited for them, and making use of career advice that actually works, we can alter America’s wellbeing statistics and paint a new picture of contentment and joy.
Why We Choose the Wrong Career Path:
When determining the reasons for Americans’ dissatisfaction with work, we can look at two distinctive causes that lead individuals into choosing careers that they aren’t truly passionate about. For some, cultural conditioning and peer influence make the process of choosing a career about what should be secondary factors such as money, status, and material possessions, yet others fall into the trap of following mainstream career advice that is undoubtable misguided.
Due to the fact that American society is awash with glitz, glamour, and celebrity, many people feel as though they need to work in a high paying profession that helps them obtain enviable levels of status and wealth.
This unfortunate truth is one of the main reasons that western societies remain blinded to see what a perfect career should be. While there is nothing wrong with becoming a lawyer, doctor, or politician, the decision to pursue one of these professions can’t be about the money. A recent Happiness Index poll points out this reality and tells us that individuals whose annual income falls between $50,000 and $74,999 actually consider themselves to be happier then those who make between $75,000 and $99,999 each year.
Additionally, many people choose the wrong profession because they rely on a standard set of faulty questions that they are told to ask themselves before picking a career. I’m sure that you have heard the best way to find the ideal job is to use the questions ‘what am I good at?’ and ‘what professional skills come easy to me?’ as a guide. While these questions are good-intentioned and can help move individuals down the right career path, they fail to acknowledge what should be the most important factor in determining the ideal profession.
Asking Yourself the Right Questions:
There are a number of problems with basing your career path decisions on the questions ‘what am I good at?’ and ‘what professional skills come easy to me?’ First, when we choose a profession based upon our skills, we subject ourselves to working in a field that we actually have no interest it. Regardless of how proficient an individual is at a particular task or skill, there will be something left to be desired when they works in an industry that doesn’t appeal to them.
Secondly, questions that focus solely on skills are extremely limited in nature. It is certain that due to an individual’s life experiences and circumstances, they have only been exposed to a number of professional environments and worked using a limited base of skills. Since no one individual has focused their attention on developing every desirable professional skill, it is hard to determine what one may actually excel at or struggle with.
Consequently, you might even discover that to get the job of your dreams, you need to pursue higher education. For instance, in order to enjoy an illustrious career in an emerging field such as GIST, a graduate degree from somewhere like USC Dornsife (See here for more) could help you get on the first step of the career ladder. Ultimately, it’s all about finding a path that works for you and your skill set.
Regardless of the skill, ability, or even personal quality, the people who exemplify these traits typically have taken a great amount of time to develop them.
While focusing on your strengths and professional skills can assist you in finding the perfect job, there are a number of other questions that should be emphasized more. To find the career that will bring you the highest levels of fulfillment and happiness in life, you should be asking yourself: ‘what am I interested in?’ and ‘what am I passionate about?’ If you have trouble finding the answer to these questions, you may want to ask yourself, ‘how do I like to spend my time?’ and ‘what type of TV shows, books, magazines, and websites am I interested in?’
Discovering Your Ideal Career Path:
In the ideal situation, each one of us should creatively search for careers and job opportunities that allow us to combine our most pronounced professional skills with the things we are most passionate about. If an individual can work in a field that they truly love and still use their most developed professional abilities, they will certainly see increased levels of life and job satisfaction. Fortunately, in today’s world, there is a definitive need for nearly every professional skill in almost every possible industry. The key for each one of us is to take the necessary time to find and choose a career path that is perfect for ourselves.
Still, if it is not possible to find a job that allows you to combine your skills with your passion, you should focus on working in the industries that appeal to you most.
It is much easier to develop the necessary skills needed to work in a particular industry then it is to cultivate passion for an industry that doesn’t appeal to your inner most self. You should be prepared to take the time needed to develop the necessary skills and work your way up the career ladder. While this may mean taking a pay cut, it is important to remember that wealth and status will never equate in happiness. Assuredly, you will feel more fulfilled making less money while working in a field that you are passionate about rather than making more money while working in a industry that you have no interest in.