Choosing a career is kind of a big deal. That’s not to say you can’t change it at any time it stops serving you, but it’s an intimidating decision. So, of course, it’s natural to seek advice from those nearest and dearest to us. However, no matter how much we trust them, it’s not always helpful and we need to remember that they’re only giving us their personal opinion. It’s good to get a broad range of perspectives, but there are a few very good reasons you shouldn’t let that perspective become an influence on your career choices.
It’s Opinion, Not Fact
It’s so, so great to talk to people about their own career experiences and how they felt about it. In fact, talking to people about their experiences in an industry you want to get into is highly recommended. But. You do need to take everything with a grain of salt, as they say.
What you’re getting from people is their opinion, not a fact. Don’t talk to just one person and take them at their word. If you talk to a whole bunch of people and they’re all telling you the same thing? Well yeah, then that’s a point you want to pay attention to.
Older Gens Don’t Always Get It
Our parents and other people we trust from generations before us have a wealth of experience that is often super helpful. But here’s the thing: life is SO different now to what it was for them, and they don’t always realise the changing landscape of personal and professional life.
I went through school being told that you can make yourself stand out in the media world by turning up to an and asking to see the editor so you can hand in your resume in person. A bunch of people much older than me doing work that I admire had even done it themselves successfully. I quickly discovered that not only is this literally impossible these days, but it’s also much more likely to make you look bad than employable.
For another example, I have the most supportive parents you could ask for. I wanted to be a writer since my early teens and they have encouraged me through every low pay – or no pay – job I’ve ever taken and through a freelancing stint around the Americas. But they were nervous the WHOLE time and you could tell.
It makes complete sense, they are of the era that wanted that whole white picket fence setup and like all humans, everything outside their realm of experience is nerve-wracking because they know how their way works, but anything else is unchartered territory. But also, getting married in my early 20s and settling into a job that was fine but not great just because the pay was decent was never going to make me happy.
You know what does make me happy? The fact that every step I took led me to become an Editor with a steady income at a workplace I love showing up to every day.
It’s Your Life
Here’s the biggie. In the end, it’s your life and you’ll be the one living it. So if someone really thinks you should become a doctor but you can’t stand the sight of blood, you’re going to have a pretty bad time at work. A lot of the time the feedback you get from people who care about you are just trying to get the best for you and that’s lovely. But only you can know what’s best for you.