Would you do it all over?
In an interview once John Lennon said if he could do it all over again he’d have been a fisherman. I suspect if he knew any real fisherman he wouldn’t have said that.
Who among us though doesn’t say things like that from time to time, and perhaps with the passing of the years maybe even dwell them. The chances not taken, and the fork in the road left unexplored. But dwelling on woulda and coulda is simply a recipe for mild depression.
Maybe there’s a better path.
Similarities between love and career are many, but let’s consider career here. How do we keep from regretting steps when looking back?
Phases of Life
- Rememeber life has its phases. The things we care about and pursue as twenty-something’s shift as we hit adulthood and then again through middle age and finally senior years. That’s okay, life can’t be a nonstop stream of sameness. Recognize though if you want to make full-scale career shifts several times over your working life you’ll be compelled to move back down the ladder to a phase much like your early years even though your body – and mind – might not be willing. By all means take the chance but do so with eyes open. What matters to us changes over time.
Joy in Work
- The debate about following your passion continues but work is more than either/or. Certain things bring us joy: helping others, solving complex problems, being part of a team, etc. Like values joy is different from person to person, but there’s no reason you can’t pursue what produces joy for you in work. Herzberg’s Hygiene theory applies here: money and title won’t produce joy. Find out what moves your heart and look for roles with big helpings of that. And recognize what thrills you might not matter to anyone else. And that’s just fine.
- As you sample career options start with this: what matters to you? Taking a career path for your parents, your partner, or, “the good of the kids” will likely leave you feeling betrayed and bitter if not just empty. Your life was not meant to be sacrificed for others, its yours to harvest. Making career choices because someone else says you should isn’t adult behavior. Think of the career you want and pursue that. You’ll find the people who really care about you will actually be happier if you reward yourself first. So go ahead: in career choice, be selfish. Start with you.
The old adage that the only real regret in life are the chances not taken seems true to me. Not every move I’ve made worked out the way I thought they would. And I’ve learned some very hard lessons along the way.
But in looking back I find I don’t have any regrets: I took my shots, and over time I’ve discovered what really matters to me in career. Accept that your needs and desires change over time, that you can in fact find joy in work and that its okay to be selfish.
Its your career.
And if you want to be a fisherman, well, why not?