If you dream about having a different career, but don’t act on that dream, you may be operating under the assumption of a career myth. 5 years ago, I started mentoring then later speaking on career development and success factors to career growth. When I started helping people with their careers whether it be their entrepreneurial career or their personal career as a 9-5 employee, I heard many excuses as to why people can’t be in a satisfying job. I’m here to debunk 3 of the top lies that we at Groopwork hear all the time.

Career Myth #1: You can’t make a living doing something you really, truly love

Growing up, I wanted to be a photographer! When I told my mother, she said, “Photography doesn’t make any money, choose something else!”
She embedded in my mind what is the grand-daddy of career myths, the belief that you can’t have a “practical” career doing something that you were passionate about. That it must be one or the other. This myth is rooted in fear because passion and practicality are not mutually exclusive. Fear that we must sacrifice our happiness to make a living. Don’t buy the myth that you can’t earn a living by doing what you love.

I’ve always been told that I would be a great teacher. The first thing that I thought is, “teachers don’t make money!”. Even though I like the fact of teaching to help people grow, it didn’t seem like a realistic career for me. When I first started coaching and training, I heard from plenty of people that it would be very difficult to make a living doing this work. I just decided to find coaches who were successful, and to learn from them (simple, eh?).

Career Myth #2: It’s a tough job market/economy

Even when the newspapers and other news sources say that unemployment numbers remain steady, that job growth is at a standstill, or that we’re experiencing slow economic recovery, not to mention downsizing and outsourcing, don’t believe it.

These stories don’t reflect the whole story, the fact that that it’s a different job market today. It’s a changing economy. How we transition from job-to-job is different. Hiring practices have shifted. So, the job market has changed, but that doesn’t necessarily make it tougher. What makes it tougher is that we’ve been slower to change. We’ve held on to old practices and old behaviors. That’s not to say that old ways still don’t work, but they’re just not as effective. So, I challenge you to just believe that it’s a perfect job market for you to find work. I’ve had my college students try this, just for a week, and, more times than not, several of them find job leads or make important connections during the week.

Career Myth #3: Changing careers is risky

What’s riskier than leaving what you know to pursue the unknown? Changing careers means leaving behind a piece of your identity – your “I’m a lawyer” response to the “what-do-you-do?” question. It might mean admitting to yourself that you made a mistake with an initial career choice. Or it might mean acknowledging that you’re unsure of what’s next. And smart people always know what’s next, right?

Nope. Successful career changers often don’t have a plan. In Working Identity: How Successful Career Changers Turn Fantasy into Reality by Herminia Ibarra, she provided evidence that waiting until you have a plan is riskier than just doing and experimenting. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is riskier than not changing careers if you’re longing to do so. Here’s why: The longing won’t go away. It will always be there, under the surface, waiting for you to do something about it.

Career Myth #4: There’s a perfect job out there for everyone

How long have you been searching for yours? You just know, deep inside, that there’s an ideal job that’s perfect for you out there. It matches your personality, skills, and interests to a tee. And it pays well. If only you could figure it out. If only you knew what it was. Is there a perfect job out there for you? No. And here’s the good news – there are more jobs than you can imagine that would be “perfect” for you. Chances are you’ve even come very, very close to a few of those perfect jobs already. So what happened? And how do you recognize one of these so-called “perfect jobs”?

Ever see the perfect gift for someone, but it was months till his or her birthday? Then when you go to find the item later, you can’t. Another lost opportunity and you, once again, berate yourself for not buying it when you first saw it. So maybe you’ve run into a perfect job in the past, but because of the timing, you passed by the opportunity. Or maybe you were so focused on something else, that you missed an obvious clue. Instead of dwelling on the past, which you can’t change, vow to keep your eyes open and to look beyond the obvious.

Career Myth #5: Ignoring your career dissatisfaction will make it go away

Another way I’ve heard this is, “Blossom where you’re planted”. Oh, if only this worked in the long run!! Granted, it does work at first. It’s easy to go back and look at the bright side of things. “At least I have a job”, “It could be worse”, “I do love the people I work with”. You When you find yourself beginning to question your career, you’ll find it’s rather easy to push the thoughts aside and pretend they aren’t there. You know what I’m talking about; the “what ifs” and the list of regrets.

Over time, the random thoughts become nagging thoughts. You spend more and more time daydreaming about options. You build your list of reasons to ignore your growing career dissatisfaction:

  • It’s going to be so hard for you.
  • You don’t want to take a pay cut.
  • You don’t want to go back to school.
  • You missed your opportunity 5, 10, 15 years ago.
  • You’re too old and no one is going to hire you at your age.

With clients in this situation, we work on identifying and challenging these fears. Sometimes the fear of change remains, but there comes a greater commitment to living than to feeling the fear.

In this world, we’re becoming powerful people. People who can communicate well, negotiate, influence, and lead. I’ve seen the power of many of readers like you. You all deserve careers and lifestyles that are symbolic to who you are, what you believe in, and what means the most to you. Today I challenge you to forget those lies, those myths, and stand strong in your dreams, passions, and beliefs. If you find yourself buying into any of these myths, consider this question – As you look back on your life, what will you regret more? Following your passion or following your fears?