Pick a Career Based on the Associated Lifestyle You Want

Image Credit: kaleb tapp on Unsplash

Something that we as a society are remiss in telling young people about picking a career: it's not just about what you want to do, but about how you want to live.

The job you choose will dictate your lifestyle.

Know yourself, know your tendencies and habits, and then see what careers interest you in that particular life rhythm.

What do I mean?

If you're someone who thrives from having a regular routine, don't get a job where you'll be required to do shift work, or vice versa.

If you're a morning person, don't get a job that requires you to work nights.

If you want to have an active family life, don't get a job that requires you to work loads of overtime.

Now this might sounds incredibly obvious to those of us who've had a few jobs and have kind of figured this out through trial and error, but no one bothers to inform young people who are just starting out on the path of higher education of this fact.

This is also an important point for someone to consider if they want to re-train later in life, which more and more people are doing (Imagine that; we didn't know ourselves enough at age 16 to appropriately choose our "forever" path...)

"How do you want to live?" is as important a question as "What do you want to do?" because inevitably, what you do will dictate how you live.

I went to college for media communications and trained to become a news anchor: WHY?

Because I knew on some level that I wanted to use my voice. 

At that time - in the late 90's - Oprah Winfrey and her talk show were going strong and I watched her everyday. And since a news desk was the platform that Oprah started on, that was the path I thought I needed to take if I wanted to use my voice.

But by the time I graduated, I realized that wasn't my path. Producing television is all about "hurry up and wait" - everyone has to be ready by shooting time, but then you have to stand around and wait while whatever's gone wrong is fixed (and something almost always goes wrong). And you can't go anywhere, because the minute the problem is solved, you have to be ready to start rolling. This is very, very boring.

The hours of work depend on how long it takes to write and produce what you need, so your job becomes your life, and the rest of your life has to take a backseat.

Also, I personally hated the news. I never watched it before college, and I've never watched it since, but while I was in college, I had to live and breathe the news and I LOATHED IT. (News production motto is "If it bleeds, it leads" and the focus on negativity and sensationalization of bad news really got me down.)

This all seems ridiculous now to my adult self, but I didn't really know or understand myself back then. Not enough to understand that who I was, what I needed, and how I wanted to live were not in line with my chosen field of study.

Everything seems so obvious in hindsight, but in the moment, it's just not.

So here's my advice - either to would-be college students or to adults looking to make a career move: first ask yourself how you want to live.
  • What is the schedule you want to keep?
  • When do you want to be able to get up and to go to bed?
  • Do you require a lunch break or can you skip meals if required?
  • Are you ok being on call, working nights, weekends, overtime, traveling for work, etc?
  • In a typical day, how do you want your time to be allotted?
Ask yourself all of those questions first.

Then make a list of careers you think would be cool / awesome / interesting that might fit your profile. 

Then find people who work in those industries and talk to them to find out how they live and what the demands and expectations are on their time, and then see if that lines up with how you want to live.

If you don't enjoy spending your evenings and weekends reading large amount of very dry material, don't become a lawyer.

If you don't enjoy spending your days listening to people complain while they show you gooey grossness, don't become a doctor.

If you're not a morning person, don't become a baker.

If you don't like people or shift work, don't work in the service industry.

Every job has an associated lifestyle, and what I'm saying is; in choosing a career, choose the lifestyle first, and then see what types or work fit into that lifestyle.

If you don't, you'll spend your life fighting your true nature, and that never works out in the long run.

Image Credit: Jonas Stolle on Unsplash


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