Opinions Mon, 15 Jun 2020

Career choices – paradigms and perspectives

Career is a vehicle

Career is a vehicle that carries us through our journey of life. Without a career or the prospect of one, life can be boring. Much of our socialization from childhood through adulthood is geared towards securing for us stable and successful careers. The education, values, lessons, and skills acquired through the course of our lives are intended to enhance our career prospects.

A good career provides a means by which we participate meaningfully in the affairs of life. It can be an important stream of income and a source of confidence and satisfaction for many people.

A job is what you are paid to do

For many people, the idea of a career as a reference to their job. A job is any activity that a person accepts to do in exchange for wages or salary. This may have nothing to do with the person’s education or aspirations in life. So long as they are being paid for doing something, they have life going on for them. The only consideration when it comes to a job-career is the financial benefit.

People who view career with the job mentality become frustrated when they are unable to secure an arrangement that offers them financial rewards in exchange for their services. This mentality is the reason unemployment has become such a notorious economic and social menace. Most of the time, people complain about unemployment not because there is nothing to do but that there is no activity for which somebody is willing and able to pay them.

A profession is what you are trained to do

Many times, I have had people approach me to help them find jobs. Then I ask, “What kind of job?” To such a question, I hear a response, “I read Economics so anything in that line will do.” While I admit that there is nothing wrong with seeking to be engaged in an activity that directly matches your education, I feel it is myopic to limit your options in life to what you study in school.

A profession is what you are trained to do. You are a lawyer because you attended law school. You cook because you have studied catering. You teach because you are a product of a college of education. You are a nurse because you have been trained in a nurses training college. You are an accountant because you studied accounting in school. You sew because you have learnt fashion and dressmaking.

The main platform for engagement by people with the profession mentality is their training. Their claim to live in their education. They cannot dream beyond their education. Such a manner of thinking becomes an obstacle for those who are not well-educated. For highly educated people who are profession-minded, they are not able to access the broad range of opportunities that education provides. Their scope of productivity is bounded by their education. If this is how you think, what will you do if you graduate from a course and you discover that there is no employment vacancy in that field?

A mission is what you are born to do

My idea of a career is not just a job or a profession. A career is not just about earning an income. It is about pursuing the essence of your life. It is becoming what you were born to be and doing what you have been destined to do – mission.

If we see career as a mission to be fulfilled, none of us will ever complain of unemployment. Every individual on the face of the earth was born with a specific mission. The mission is the work of your life. It is a God-given mandate. If you focus on it, you will never feel unemployed.

It is that mission which helps us to live with meaning and make a significant impact. Our real career is to discover our mission and fulfil it. Yes, a job will give you income and a profession will unleash your skills and competencies, but they will not guarantee you fulfilment. A mission, however, will give you fulfilment and everything else that a job and a profession offers.

Wholesome career

Surely, I am not saying that it is not good to look for a job or follow a career modeled on your training. It is not a distressful thing to have a sense of mission and not be able to make a decent living. It is also not cool to have a job that does not give you fulfillment. Likewise, it is frustrating to have the inner edge to do something and lack the skills for it. Don’t we all know people who have well-paying jobs, yet dread Mondays because their missionary edge is focused elsewhere?

It looks like it is not ideal to pursue a career path without any of the three factors. So instead of merely pursuing jobs for the pay and professions because of our training, let’s order our lives this way – find your mission, train yourself to build the competence required for your mission, and get paid for pursuing and fulfilling your mission. To find your mission consider your talent (natural abilities), passion (heart yearnings), personality (unique attributes), and experiences (life realities).
Columnist: Terry Mante