By Daniel C. Simmons, CPCPitfalls That Apply to Nearly Everyone’s Career

On average people change jobs five times throughout their lifetime with some people changing careers up to three times that amount. The job market in today’s world is in a great deal of flux, which makes changing jobs and career paths the rule and not the exception. In the midst of all this, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made.

If you are to make smart decisions with regard to your career you’re going to need a good compass to lead the way and guide you through all the choices and opportunities that lay before you. This compass is going to be your passion. What are you passionate about? What is the one thing that gets you going in the morning and gives you the drive to tackle the problems of the day? Ideally this would be something you’re doing as a career or are working towards.

Does this seem easy to you? Well it really isn’t. There are quite a few pitfalls lying in the way, not just for people already established in their jobs, but also for college students who are looking forward to venturing out into the job market.

The most dangerous pitfalls that I see looming over those in the beginning stages of planning their career:

  1. Pressure from parents – This isn’t easy for anyone to deal with. Of course your parents want you to go to law school, but you’re not interested in becoming a lawyer. Be steadfast in following your passion and choose your own career path.
  2. Peer pressure – This is when your friends are taking certain courses, have a particular major and they subtly or not so subtly pressure you to go along with them. If this is not your passion, you need to ignore them.
  3. Personal paralysis – With so many choices before you it’s easy to just remain undecided. But you can’t just sit back and let “life” decide for you. You need to use your passion as a guiding light and make plans for your career and future.

Those are just the pitfalls affecting college students. But what if you’ve left college long behind? Believe me there are plenty more pitfalls to be concerned about, including these:

  1. Being Overconfident – Being confident is a good thing, being overconfident can be a problem. It can easily cloud your thinking so that you are no longer objective. To make sure this isn’t you, seek the advice of others that you respect before making important decisions.
  2. Starting at ground zero again – You’ve now spent a significant amount of time and money following a particular career path so it’s just best to continue on no matter how unhappy you are, right? I DON’T THINK SO!
  3. The status quo – Sticking to the status quo is among the worst decisions you could make. If you are not happy with what you’re doing but decide to remain since it’s all you know, you will likely live to regret this down the road. Which brings you to . . .
  4. Monday morning quarterbacking – When you make a decision solely based on the idea that down the road you might regret not making it is not using sound judgement. This isn’t about holding up a bank. This is about your career and building something meaningful and rewarding.

What I hope you get out of this is the importance of letting your passion guide you. We’re talking about the quality of your life. You certainly do not want to spend your years doing something you really don’t like and ultimately have an unhappy life.  Remember the words of Albert Schweitzer “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”