A past career choice is nothing but yet another convenient excuse

I bet all of us know people who complain that the career they chose as young adults (many of them influenced by other people, like parents, other relatives, friends, etc.) is the single most important reason why they’re unhappy in their lives.

Maybe you’re this person?

They will tell you things like

“This choice ruined my life.”
“Were it not for my father I would have chosen differently.”
“I regret not having had the guts to say No to my parents and pursue what I thought was a good career for me.”

They blame the choices they made years ago and all the people who pushed them in one direction or another.

By doing so they can evade responsibility today. Sure, they might have done something wrong in the past (who hasn’t?), but today? Today doesn’t count. Today they merely live with those choices. What else could they be doing?

After graduating from this damned college not even once did they ask themselves what actually keeps them in those jobs / places they hate.

I can see four reasons they stick with their initial choices.

Reason #1 Investment / commitment bias

The investment / commitment bias is the first reason. They are afraid that they will lose their investment / that they will betray their past selves (choice) and they do nothing.

Reason #2 Other people’s approach

Secondly, they might fear that they will do something that is unconventional/ off the wall and thus unproven. We don’t see that many people who change their careers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s, do we?

But we fail to ask why we don’t see them. Is it because they’re all super pumped to do what they do, or is it because they also have the same fears as we do.

Reason #3 Lack of awareness

Thirdly, they don’t even realize that they could switch careers.

It is still so uncommon for people to transition from an existing career to a new one (especially in their 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s) that we lose the sight of it as one of our options.

Reason #4 Fear of the unknown

Lastly, a career change scares the hell out of most people, so they choose not to rock the boat and stay where they are, even if that means going through life with an enormous amount of pain and regret.

Blaming our past selves and circumstances is the easy (conventional) and ‘secure’ path. Everyone can do it and thus almost everyone does it. Those people are “happy” that they can point others to this unfortunate choice / circumstance in their past and say “Look, if things were different back then I would have …”

Choosing to rewrite your future is always the difficult and scary path. And, most importantly, it means constantly taking full responsibility for your life. Few people are willing to do this.

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Writing is my oxygen. I write every day. About parenting, career life and the challenges of being a young adult.

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- Lukasz