Chasing the Perfect Career – Part 1

Students and seasoned professionals alike have been given the idea that in order for a career to be the “right” one, it needs to spark passion in you.  However, many people struggle to identify what they are passionate about in the short run, let alone what they will remain passionate about long-term. Others may have a clear picture of what their passions are, but struggle to identify how to make money doing those things. 

For many, this pressure to choose the right path can be paralyzing – leading to chronic dissatisfaction, job hopping, or lack of motivation to pursue anything because nothing feels right. 

Furthermore, this focus on passion does not take into consideration the other aspects of work that greatly impact satisfaction levels, including schedule flexibility, company culture, location of the job, and level of responsibility, among others.

One byproduct of working in a field you’re passionate about is that your work and personal life can start to blend together.  When your interest is truly sparked and you care deeply about the work you do, it can become difficult to maintain boundaries between work time and personal time.  While in the short run this can be incredibly rewarding, the reality is that spending all of your time and energy on work leads to early burnout and disillusionment with things that used to be joy-filled.

On the other end of the spectrum, since most of us work more than we are off, a job that you detest bleeds into your free time, making even your time off miserable as you dread going back to work. Many joke about the “Sunday Scaries,” the all-too-real dread that many 9-5, Monday through Friday workers feel on a Sunday night as they prepare for the week ahead. For those with non-traditional schedules, worry about going into work later or upcoming work-related travel can sap the peace and enjoyment out of otherwise free moments.

For most,  the “perfect” career exists somewhere along a spectrum that depends on your individual priorities and characteristics.  Check back for part 2 for a discussion of how to determine where on the spectrum you fall, and what that may mean for your career.

Molly Halbrooks