Picking A Career: The Pressure To Get It Right


It usually starts when we’re children and asked of us by well-meaning family members. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Then our parents friends and the parents of our own friends are asking us the same question. Soon, the idea that we should place a lot of importance on thinking about our life-long career is reinforced in school when elementary teachers tell us to choose wisely the level of classes we select as we approach high school. Maybe they even have us do career assessments.

In your personal life you’re body is going through some weird physical changes; puberty. Your hormones are changing, you get that first facial hair, the period arrives, the physical attraction to people you used to just see as friends is changing how you hang out together. What you and your friends think is groovy, hip, cool or down with is constantly changing and you don’t want to be left out and fall behind. Things get awkward as you switch back and forth between being a kid and doing your best to look and act 5 years older.

So there you are newly arrived in high school; experimenting with your teenage drive to test some boundaries, making some decisions (a few of which you’ll regret and a few you’ll be happy work out) for the first time. You think you’re mature, all you really want to do is have fun, bond with your besties and have the time of your life, but suddenly you’re doing serious work looking at further career assessments, picking out Universities or Colleges to further your education and positioning yourself along the path to that career goal. People older than you, smarter than you, are laying out your next 5- 8 years of your life; finishing high school and 3 or 4 years of further education.

The irony is that as adults themselves, those teachers know that almost every one of their students will change their careers and some several times over the course of their working adults lives. But if they stressed that message at this early juncture, the students they are instructing would question the importance of getting it laid out now. So there you are unsure really of what you’ll want in the future let alone now, but still you’ve got to start thinking about what College or University offers the courses you’ll need to get whatever diploma or degree you’re after.

There’s a lot of heat to get it right; some of the pressure – most of it really – might even be self-imposed. After all, if all these people we admire and respect are telling us it’s important to choose wisely so we don’t waste our lives, our money and our time, they must be right. The fear that you choose wrong and take  something you really don’t want or change your mind too late can be confusing!

Relax! (Easier said than done right? I know). Here’s a few thoughts for you to mull over from an Employment Counsellor who has worked for a long time with literally thousands of people.

First of all, while this might sound entirely UNhelpful, you need to know that as much as what you want now may seem crystal clear, that could very well change in your future and that’s totally okay. The person you’ll become will be influenced a great deal by people you have yet to meet, places you have yet to go, experiences you have yet to have. You’re going to change as you grow and so this notion of choosing an occupation – and the pressure to get it right – is not only a myth, it’s just plain wrong and the evidence proves it. People change jobs and careers over their lifetime.

This being said, an education is a fine thing. It’s not the only thing; you can skip the post secondary thing altogether and just start working and have a fine, fulfilling life. But suppose for a moment you head off to school and after 2 years in a 3 year program you find you’re just not feeling it. You can switch programs and people do. You can take a year off and go back. You could even graduate and then something in your life makes pursuing that career difficult or seemingly impossible. That career in the Hospitality industry with a lot of evening and weekend work suddenly doesn’t fit with your new-found role of parent. If this happened, would your education be a waste?

The answer is no. Education is never a waste. Education is not a financial burden of debt you pay off with a good paying job, but rather an investment in yourself as a person. That education is going to change and influence how you think moving forward, and it will benefit you throughout your adult life. If you consider returning to school to do something different, taking another 2 or 3 years, you might feel even more pressure to ‘get it right this time.’ My advice? Do it anyhow. Go back. Invest in yourself because your future self will thank you.

You can do this. You literally can’t choose wrong. Life has a funny way of making use of our talents, education and experience down the road in ways we can’t imagine at the present.

Whether a specific trade or a general Bachelor of Arts, it’s all good! This education you’re considering isn’t the final destination, it’s just one step on a lifelong journey.

Our Choices Spread Jobs Around


Of late, my wife and I have been actively looking at where and how we want to live  from now until retirement and then hopefully long into that next stage. There are a lot of tradespeople and others who will ultimately gain or lose work based on what we decide. Ever thought about that yourself?

So we live in a bungaloft; a home with a main floor, finished basement and a second storey that overlooks the living room on the main floor. Outside we’ve got many floral gardens; 95% of which are filled with perennials; so there’s less work than it looks at this stage as the bulk of the work is done. The folks at garden centres have a lot of our money!

The thing is, we can’t at the moment, decide on what to do between the choices we’ve presented to ourselves. We could:

  1. Stay put and do some renovating to make a really nice home even better
  2. Move to some property with a great view, and a house that ticks off all the things on our ‘dream’ list
  3. Buy a lot and have a home built from scratch just the way we want it
  4. Move to a smaller place; like a condo and buy a recreation vehicle and travel weekends and on our vacations

Now I’m not just sharing our discussions for the purpose of garnering ‘likes’ such as one would on FB. No, I’m sharing because there are a lot of working people who will make money or lose opportunities based on whatever we decide. And who knows; there could be more options yet that come to light.

There’s the RV sales people; and if you’ve not been inside some campers and trailers for years, you should think about taking in such a show. Things have come a long way in comfort and options. Bigger isn’t always better, but it sure is nice to have some comforts when you’re coming in after a day on the trails, white water rafting or having been out doing pretty much anything active. Yes the RV sales people will be happy to know that we’re potentially in the market – again.

Now we’ve moved 8 times if you include the first three years of our marriage where we were in 3 apartments in the first 3 years. 5 different houses representing 10 real estate commissions, 10 lawyer’s fees, 3 home inspectors and way too many people in administrative roles to count giving buyers and sellers approval for this and that. In the last house, we stood and watched it go up right from the foundation. So many builders! There’s the tradespeople; the carpet layer, the hardwood installer, the trim team, the counter top manufacturer’s, the roofers, the framers, the dry waller’s, the landscapers who brought in the armour stone and made the waterfall, the plumbers, electricians, asphalt team, city inspector, gas, hydro, cable and water installers, the people delivering turf. Forgot to mention the heavy equipment operators, window installers and manufacturer’s, and of course all the people who produce and sell all the contents from lighting and bathroom fixtures to painters and HVAC people. Then too there’s the movers who transport all the ‘stuff’ from one house to another. So many people!

That’s a lot of jobs for a lot of people and we’re only one couple. When the housing industry is booming, it’s not hard to see that for every time you pass a new development going up, a lot of people are benefitting from the work created.

And what of that RV? There are owners of campgrounds hoping we’ll be among the many who frequent their sites. There’s the gas station employees and owners who hope we’re on the road, the people who build, sell and install the appliances contained within. Then there’s plumbers, electricians, framers, again. There are folks on automotive assembly lines who work at construction, engine installation, wiring, lighting and depending on the model, even the kitchen sink and toilet!

Then we’ve got to find a place to store the vehicle perhaps, for if we stay put, that new RV can’t stay in the driveway. Nope, by-laws forbid that. So someone makes money storing and maybe winterizing that RV.

I see a lot of Mitchell money going out. Oh, and to pull it unless it’s self-driven? Yep, that’s one of our cars to sell and replace with a vehicle with better towing capacity. I just keep thinking of all the people happy to take my money; our money. Oh well, it is only money. Right? Then again, I’m about 7 years (give or take) from retiring and then the money coming in drops. That bears thinking about.

That we’re in this thought process isn’t the thrust of the piece, but a look at who in the world of work will be affected and receive income/work from our choices. Say, what if we stayed put and just did some traveling of a different sort? Then the people taking our money might be airlines, hotel owners, restauranteurs, theatre owners, valets, RV rental agents, train operators, etc. What about all the souvenir creators and vendors relying on us, the servers, hotel staff, bed and breakfast operators and tour guides? What of the amusement operators – why even the road crews who pave the roads we’ll drive on?

There are a lot of people potentially taking our money. Stay tuned contractors, agents, builders, vendors, assembly line workers, …