“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” -Confucius
How do people choose their careers? They might do so based on personal interests or skills, market demands, pay prospects, parents’ or others’ influence, family professional culture (as in business, doctor or lawyer families), etc. Unless you have a very good understanding of the career you want to pursue, picking one is very much a gamble and will later inevitably require adjustments or compromise. This is what happens when you fall into what I call an “accidental career”.
The closest analogy to this is an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages you or your parents find someone who looks suitable, you get married to them and then leave your fate to probability. You will end up with a suitable partner if you are very lucky person. If not, then you may get used to your not-so-suitable partner through various adjustments, and eventually get locked in the marriage due to obligations. If you get so frustrated that you feel like leaving your partner, but are afraid to take that step, you will continue half- or rather empty-heartedly. You will leave your partner only if the relationship is unbearable, no matter the obligations.
This is exactly how it is with accidental careers. The lucky few fall into the right career after a couple of tries, but the majority go through the cycle of adjustments and frustrations. If you get very frustrated, then you look for alternatives, but if you are afraid or have too many obligations, you are forced to continue. The result of this is an unfulfilling career and mediocre achievement.
Going back to the analogy of marriage, how do you think love marriages fare? At least here you would have made a conscious decision based on your preferences, values, etc. Hopefully you would have dated for a long enough period before marriage. You would know the other person to some extent. Hence the chances of good mutual understanding and a fulfilling life are higher. Similarly, if you select a career about which you feel passionately, you will probably continue to feel that passion, through ups and downs, for the rest of your career. This is the reason why almost every successful person, in every field, says that they feel great passion for what they do. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have be able to get the results they did. In fact, if you heard their life stories, you would say that most of these people are obsessed with what they do. This is the magic of pursuing what I call an “addictive career”. Addictive careers are highly rewarding and fuel outstanding achievement.
The point is not to get you to think about the relative advantages or disadvantages of arranged and love marriages. It is to get you to question yourself if you are living with an accidental career or leading with an addictive career. In the game of careers, the most important step is to understand the kind of career you currently have.