You're about to graduate from high school, or you're entering your first or second year of college, and the time has come to make some serious decisions about your career. And as far as you can tell, the stakes are incredibly high. If you get this right, you'll be getting paid to do exactly what you love for the rest of your life. If you make a single misstep, you'll be forever locked into a cycle of drudgery that will drain away your youth and leave you at the brink of retirement with no savings, still haunted by unmade payments on your student loans.
The stakes are not as high as you might think. Most people change careers at least three or four times throughout their lives, and no professional commitment is ever permanent. But before you make a commitment to your first—not your only—career path, you may want to avoid these common mistakes.
1. Letting Your Parents Choose for You
Your parents raised you, fed you, and loved you for all these years, and for that, you certainly owe them big. But pay them back in love and attention—Don't pay them back by committing yourself to a career that doesn't fit you personality. This decision is yours to make, not theirs. Ask for advice if you want to, but don't take dictation.
2. Taking Advice From the Wrong Sources
Before anyone tells you what career path to choose, make sure that person has your best interests in mind, not their own. And consider the source before you act. If money is important to you, don't take career advice from the chronically broke. If you want to be happy, don't take career advice from the chronically miserable.
3. Assuming That You Won't Succeed
Far too often, a young person makes a huge career mistake by deciding that a certain career path is intellectually or physically out of reach. But there are very few careers where these things form an insurmountable road block.
If you're willing to study, pay attention, ask questions and get help, no major is "harder" than any other. And if you're willing to invest the number of hours required, no career is out of your reach. You may not become famous (as a scientist, ballet dancer, engineer, writer, etc.), but very few people do. Most of us just do what we do sustainably, day in and day out, and we enjoy it as much as our personalities allow. This is the real definition of success.
4. Choosing a Career Based Solely on Money
If you're choosing a career because you're sure this path will make you rich—and for no other reason—do two things: First, check your sources on that. And second, think twice. Money is serious, important, and terrific—there's no doubt about this. But it's only one small part of a healthy and happy adult life.
5. Choosing a Career Based on Spiritual Fulfillment
This may be the most dangerous and common mistake of all. Before you pursue a career believing that this is all you need in order to feel happy and complete, follow the steps above. First, cross examine this belief and check your source. Second, keep your perspective. No matter how fulfilled you are, it's very hard to be happy when you don't have money or security.
No Career Decision Is Final
No decision is final, and no career mistake is permanent. If you change your mind at any point on the road ahead, you can always take action and alter your destiny. Start with a visit to MyPerfectResume for application formatting and job search help.