Parents and Career Choices

The average person changes jobs every 7 years, and they will change careers an average of three times in their working lives. Why? Because many people are chasing someone else's dreams instead of their own. I have many friends who were pushed into careers they were not truly invested in by well-meaning parents. While most of these parents simply wanted to help give their child the best career and thereby best life possible, what they did not realize was that each person needs to determine for himself what he needs to do with his life.

Thankfully, my own situation is an example of the opposite. I grew up working in a family business, a small retail operation. However, my parents never pressured me to follow in their footsteps. In fact I was discouraged from doing just that. Instead they pushed me to go out and get a liberal education so that I could see all the world had to offer. They understood that the most important thing in life was to be doing something that would make me happy, to find a calling rather than just a career. I happened to find that in teaching, which is what I have been doping for 14 years now- 11 of them in the same school.

I could have ended up running the family business, making more money than I do now, and having the opportunities available to me that are exclusive to business owners. But along with those advantages would have come the required risks: the uncertainty of income from one year to the next, the reliance on the national and local economy, and the stress of running a multifaceted operation. Both my parents and I realized that these were not my strengths and that I would not thrive, personally or professionally, under those types of circumstances. Therefore, I was never pushed in that direction but was allowed to find my own path.

Most people I know do not look forward to Monday mornings, as it signals a return to a job or career that while financially rewarding, is not personally fulfilling. I am fortunate not to have that problem, as I have found something that I love to do and can do well. The self-satisfaction that comes from doing something you know you were meant to do is honestly hard to explain.

We live in a society that often puts too much stress on financial success and not enough on personal well-being. Because of this parents understandably can over-focus on guiding their children towards a lucrative career rather than giving them the time and space to find their own path in life. In the long run if you are doing something you truly love, then you will find ways to make that financially rewarding. Most importantly you will have that sense of well-being that only comes from finding a calling rather than just a career.