Choosing the right path … “Follow your passion?”
With the summer already on its way out – some of our kids will be headed to college to focus on their career path. This is a perfect time to make sure we engage our children in their futures. Parents, faculty and the college career advisers seem to continue to tell students to follow their passion. But is that sound advise in today’s employment market?
They say if you pick a career you are passionate about – it will never seem like a day of work. Passion is something you pursue in life! There’s just one problem with all this advice about following your passions. It’s terrible and potentially harmful. Often, the things we are passionate about, are usually not the same as the things we can make a living from.
Did you know, roughly half of middle-aged employed Americans freely admit that they’d quit their jobs tomorrow if they could afford to? According to Gallup, not even a third of American workers qualify as "engaged" with their jobs, which it defines as being "enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace" — to say nothing of passion. Other research suggests that up to 80 percent of workers hate their jobs.
So how do we counsel our future workforce to find a career path? By asking our kids a couple of questions, we might help steer them in the right direction.
How did you find out about this career? If we are lucky, they might respond that it came up in the results of a self-assessment test. They might say it is their dream career. We hope our children will not choose an occupation because they think it will make us happy or because it looks like fun on their favorite TV show.
Based on that job’s description, tell me what you think of it. They could respond specifically about the financial impact this career will have, or that the career has a prestigious title. Some may have no interest in the financial impact, but feel that it meets a need that is important to them and some may not have any idea at all about how they feel about the job’s future.
Speaking of the future – What is the outlook for that occupation? Is it expected to grow over the years? It is important to know if the career will experience growth, or is it on the decline. By the time they finish college, will this career still be one they can make a living with or will jobs be far and few between?
This question can be asked of anyone at any age – How do your qualifications match to those required for this career? Do you have what it takes to work in this field both physically & emotionally? How much schooling or training will it take?
Are there jobs currently open in this field near where you live or where you want to live?
It is still true that one of the biggest fears for many college graduates is finding a good job that pays well and has solid career prospects. To help them resolve that fear, yet still embrace their passion for their future, we need to help them review the advantages and potential disadvantages to the career paths they are interested in.
Passions can come in all forms. Even though they may want to be a dancer or an artist in order to follow their passion, it is important we help them look at a variety of careers. Hopefully we can help them find a career that will turn into a passion that will support them.