Some colleagues and I were recently discussing the myths that prevent people from managing their careers happily and successfully. Kerri Latham, a McMaster career counsellor, spoke about a myth that everyone can relate to: the right career will present itself, fully formed, like a push notification.
Perhaps because we focus on job titles, we expect to find someone who has already achieved the life we want, and whose path we can replicate to get there. Hearing other people’s stories is helpful, but perhaps more because of the range of processes we learn about, not because someone is likely to have our ideal life.
Careers tend to be built, rather than discovered. It is normal for the process to feel confusing and difficult. We look for ways to do work that’s meaningful, piece together more of what we want, avoid the things we can’t stand, and figure out what we can lay aside temporarily in order to pursue something of interest right now.
There’s an upside to career insights not being like push notifications: every step takes us closer to figuring out good options and expanding our opportunities. We don’t have to wait for the right message, and we are not failing when we still feel conflicted after having reflected or done something that we hoped would bring clarity. Clarity almost always requires a mix of action, reflection and time.