Have You Made This Mistake In Your Career?

Posted by in Career Success | 18 comments

Have you ever thought about what you’re supposed to be doing with your career?

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I know that may sound like a really strange question.

You might be thinking, what do you mean by “supposed to be doing?”

Most discussions about what you want to do in your career don’t revolve around this question.

Here’s what I mean.

If you ask a friend what they were supposed to be when they grew up you’ll likely get a response like:

“I was supposed to go to medical school and become a doctor.”

“My mother wanted me to be a full time stay at home mom.”

“I was supposed to go into the plumbing business with my Dad.”

“My parents didn’t care what I did as long as I made a lot of money.”

“I was supposed to get my MBA and climb the corporate ladder.”

In her book “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was” Barbara Sher says this is an interesting question,

“Because even if you can’t figure out what you want to be doing, you probably know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.”

The problem is we often have trouble figuring out the type of work we want to do because we’re trying to please the person who told us what we were supposed to be doing.

We are all influenced for better or worse by so many external factors.

We are each part of a family, neighborhood, community, and culture who influence us.

All of those influencers have an impact on how we shape our decisions when it comes to our careers.

Often we can’t even pinpoint who we’re trying to please, we just know there was an expectation of us to do something that fit within the mold of what it means to work where you come from.

Now let me say that not all influencers are bad. In fact, most of the people in your life were probably well intentioned. They truly wanted what was best for you.

However, their guidance likely was targeted toward things that worked for them or they thought would have been better for them.

Maybe a parent or influential adult had done well in a corporate position and they knew you could do the same even though you hate staring at a computer screen all day. Or perhaps they always wanted to be a jazz pianist but never ventured into that area so they put you in piano lessons even though your hands felt like potatoes pounding on the keys.

The key to enjoying your work is to be able to know yourself well enough to know what makes your heart sing.

Unfortunately most of the people around us aren’t tuned in to listening to us or paying attention to what we do well. I mean can you blame them? It’s hard enough to figure it out ourselves let alone for someone else.

It’s not their fault and it’s not your fault. There’s no one to blame here. It’s just the way it is.

However, it’s absolutely essential that you figure out if what you’re doing now is in alignment with who you are.

Does it bring out the best of your personality?

Does it allow you to use your greatest talents and skills?

Does it connect with what you value and what you’re passionate about?

If it doesn’t, then I’m afraid you’ve got some work to do.

But don’t be afraid of hard work. Be afraid of working at something and succeeding in something that means nothing to you. That would be the greatest travesty of all.

Question: So tell me, what were you supposed to be doing with your career?


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  • I was “supposed” to be an Interior Designer, which is what I went to college for and it’s what I’m doing now… and that’s also why I am in the middle of a career revamp. 🙂

    • Alana, thanks for stopping by my blog. Yes, it’s amazing how much we are influenced by our “supposed to be” when it comes to choosing a career. I was supposed to be a public school teacher but that option never really appealed to me.

      • INTERESTING! Did you pursue that option first or did you just know and not do anything with it? I’m learning as a 32 year old how many decisions I made in life simply because I wanted to please my parents. I am glad to finally have that revelation and begin making changes.

        • I knew my mom encouraged the idea of being a teacher but it never appealed to me, so I never pursued it. Other than that I felt pretty free to choose what I wanted to do – which was it’s own dilemma. (Hmm maybe that’s a blog post idea). I grew up in a pretty rural part of California so my exposure to people outside of agriculture, public schools, and accounting firms (my dad was a CPA) was limited. I moved to Los Angeles to go to college and it opened up a whole new world of options for me.
          It’s awesome that you’re making changes to your life that align with who you really are Alana.

          • I think it’s great you were your own person and were able to pursue what you wanted, despite what you were “supposed” to be. Although I wish I had started this journey sooner, I am thankful I started out in Interior Design. If I had not, I’m not sure how I would have met my husband! 🙂

  • I’m going to check out that book. It sounds interesting and you have a good track record for recommending books. 😉

    • Oh you’ll love it Alana…Barbara Sher is one of my favorites. She has another book called Wishcraft I’d recommend as well.

  • I’m a teacher by career, a writer and musician on the side. I’m supposed to be bringing the two closer together and let the writing and music become my main means of influence.

    • It is a sweet thing to be able to blend your career, your passions, and your influence Dan. I wish you much success in your efforts.

  • Tracy Sanders

    One parent wanted me to be a doctor and the other thought I should be a stay at home mom. I really struggled with picking and sticking to a major in college because I could not figure out how to merge the two.

    • That sounds like a bit of a dilemma Tracy. It’s never too late to do work you will enjoy – even if you majored in something completely outside of what you really want to do.

    • Wow! I would have struggled with that one too Tracy. Such a vast difference.

  • yes. I feel like I have found where my strengths are in impacting, inspiring and helping others.

    • That’s fantastic Jeremy. How did you come to discover those were your strengths?

      • After I began teaching on my blog and doing personal coaching. How about you?

        • After I left my first career as a counselor I did some deep self-evaluation to find out what I did best and what I found meaningful. It took me about four years from that point to truly figure out my strengths and how to apply them to my work.

  • Excellent post. I am glad I had parents who were supported of any dream that we had. They would encourage us to make sure that was what we wanted to do. I have lived part of my dream of traveling around the country in sales/marketing. Now I am trying to live my dream of traveling the world encouraging, equipping and empowering people to realize and live their vision. You have some good material.

    • Thanks for your kind words Bernard. It is fantastic that you had supportive parents who allowed you the freedom to pursue your dreams. It sounds like you have lived that out to the fullest. We look forward to seeing you achieve even higher levels of success in your new venture. Thanks for your comment.