Career Assumptions: In Career Development

Dominant narratives and assumptions about careers are always with us. And they can influence our career decisions and how we develop our career paths.

Career conversations can bring perspective to these narratives and untangle assumptions that may be impeding the development of your career path.

Let’s examine 3 examples.

“I want work that I am passionate about”.

Work that feels meaningful, purposeful, and even work we feel passionate about is a predominant theme amongst clients in career counselling these days.

But don’t get stuck in what I have come to call passion paralysis: waiting for that one job that you will be passionate about to present itself. Or getting stuck in a continuous loop of indecision wondering if a particular choice or opportunity will be that one job you are passionate about.

How we experience and define work that we are passionate about is discovered through engagement and exploration.

When we engage in an activity, task, or specific job, we also bring something to the table. We contribute our energy, attitudes, enthusiasm, personal skills, lived experience, and perspectives. These are ingredients that can foster a passion for what we are doing.

Exploring different career options and exploring a variety of work experiences allows us to develop different skills and see ourselves contributing to a variety of work environments. This also gives us opportunities to discover what we feel passionate about.

Remember, what we feel passionate about is never one thing and never the same thing over the duration of our lives.

“Everyone else seems to have their careers locked down by their mid-twenties”.

Comparing ourselves to others is inevitable, especially when it comes to careers.

But everyone else does not have their careers decided upon and fixed by their mid-twenties. Careers develop over time, in stages and steps, and include adjustments along the way.

Keep in mind the fact that we don’t all aspire to do the same things. We have different experiences, different skills, different interests, different dreams, and different goals.

Career paths can also change by personal choice or from changes to the job market.

And having a career does not necessarily mean having one career for life. Rather a career life is increasingly created and constructed from the different work experiences we have in a lifetime.

Assuming others have their careers locked down by a specific age creates a great deal of internal pressure and diverts your time, energy, focus, and commitment away from where it should be, on developing and contributing to your career journey.

“I feel as if I have just been bouncing around, I don’t have any skills”.

Increasingly our career life is created and constructed from a variety of work experiences. This does not mean you do not possess skills.

Think of your skill set holistically, the skills you have acquired, and the skills you will continue to acquire. Every experience you have and will have showcases skills. Skills you have discovered, skills you have learned, your natural skills, and skills you may want to develop further.

Don’t undervalue the experiences you have had and the overall value you will inevitably embody at any given stage of your life.

Bring some perspective to the narratives and assumptions you have about careers, and how they may be influencing how you are thinking about your own career development.

Consider some of the following questions.

Are there certain themes that keep emerging in the different experiences I have had, or the types of roles I tend to take on?

Are there certain skills that are always present, or some that are more predominant in these experiences?

What have I learned about my style of working and the way I contribute to these different work environments?

What have I learned about my own natural skills that carry over to every experience I have had?

What do I want to learn more about, at this stage in my life? What issues in the world, or in my community am I drawn to, and why?

What can I commit to right now? Further education, a specific area of training or skill development, direct work experience?