2 In Advice/ Healing/ Inspiration/ My Family

How to Choose a Career that will Make You Happy

How to Choose a Career that will Make You Happy: For the young, the old, or anyone who just wants to start over.

Recently I’ve been obsessed with reading the psychology behind intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, especially when it is applied to career choices, success, and happiness in life. Often we are influenced to take a job or make a career choice due to extrinsic motivations instead of intrinsic motivations. Acknowledging these motivating factors and taking them into consideration when choosing a career will help in making a choice that will bring life-long happiness.

Lets take a look at some extrinsic motivating factors:

  • Getting rich.

  • Owning a huge house.

  • Owning an expensive car.

  • Popularity

Wow! Who wouldn’t want all that?? Hello extrinsic motivation…let’s get this done!

Now lets take a look at some intrinsic motivations.

  • Personal growth and achievement.

  • Doing something you love.

  • Making a difference in the world.

  • Helping others achieve their goals.

Still looks good but money isn’t mentioned here. Hummm, maybe I need to accomplish something that will bring me all of those worldly things first. Because seriously, my family is counting on me and I want to prove to my friends that I am successful with a capital S! Making lots of money will prove just that.

Hold your horses a minute, not that there is anything wrong with wanting money, but the truth is that every extrinsic motivating factor can be taken away. While the intrinsic factors can never be lost.

Ouch that hurts a little.

The question now becomes can one sustain happiness when choosing a career which motivation is only through extrinsic devices?

I mean, why not? If money equals success, you can tolerate how you earn it, and it will make you rich then you may as well go for it. Especially if you are good at doing that “something” you choose to do.

Not necessarily, one can be good, in fact really good at something, and it doesn’t mean that is what they were made to do. There are study’s which prove that once you take care of your basic needs that your level of happiness does not increase with more money. The fact is, in the long run, making a ton of money does not matter.

See excerpt below from the Documentary “Happy”.

I still want to be rich, maybe right now more than doing what is deeply imbedded in my soul to do. It seems like the right choice because it “looks great” to all of my friends and family. Looking great also feels great. Plus it is a great second option and wanting to provide for my family is a great reason to settle.

This is a worldly facade and is a way to keep you from reaching your full potential for happiness. You may end up rich, you may become powerful, but the trade-off may be not living the life that would have fulfilled you. 

The hard sad truth is that you will know it. You simply cannot hide from your true self.

If you choose a career for the wrong reasons or even the wrong career for the right reasons, I fear it will come crumbling down around you. One day you may just have to pick up your miserable and unfulfilled self up off the floor and try to gather the courage to make a change.

And that is a lot of pressure, so you better trust your heart. Just do what you love, so you can love what you do.

{20 Years Later}

Okay you have finally convinced me and you were right, I should have chosen differently. But seriously, half of my life has been lived now. What is the point? I may as well continue making amazing money. I’ve missed the boat on self-fulfillment. But I admit, there has always been this pull inside of myself to do this one thing that I love. I know it would make me happy. But it is too late to change. 

Is the above mentioned you or could it be you in the future? If so read on…

Here are some reasons people do not choose the right Career Path:

  • It was something that people wouldn’t understand.
  • It would not be sustainable because they wouldn’t make enough money.
  • The path to get there was too hard so they gave up.
  • They settled for second best and rationalized with themselves that it was the right choice.
  • They were embarrassed of their dream and didn’t have the courage to try.
  • They didn’t know what their dream was until they felt it was too late.
  • They didn’t know what they loved or wanted to do.

I know the above scenarios all too well.

A little personal story: My husband and I have lived and breathed the above for almost 25 years. If we could go back and change that one decision which led us down a road to a career that was not satisfying we would. It was a noble choice, a second best, however not a first love. It was something that an amazing resume of 20 years ended up being built upon. Money was made, children were raised, and it paid the bills. But something was missing, and we knew it, it could not be denied. My husband was not fulfilled.

As we have gotten older and wiser our lives have shifted and become more about doing things that internally satisfy us. Intrinsically there is a pull towards our new goals instead of a push for more earthly desires. We started looking long and hard at our lives and making changes. These changes have been long over due, but are not easy. However, the result is beautiful. I love the feeling of being innately pulled towards something that I know in my heart I was made to do and at the same time doing something with my God-given talents.

Each of us has certain abilities or specific desires of the heart. This is because we are supposed to do something with them. We are meant to use them. They are a part of us for a reason and it is up to us to have the courage to find out what exactly that reason is. It sounds cliché, but I have found that life is more about the journey than the destination. Perhaps it is the very journey towards ones dreams that makes life fulfilling. 

Let’s talk about those reasons which hold us back and find solutions:

  • It was something that people wouldn’t understand. You don’t owe anyone explanations as to why you want to do something. Worry about yourself and keep your eye inward. Everything will work itself out. For years I kept it a secret that I had a blog. I was worried about what people would think of me. As soon as I let that go my life began changing and opening up to new possibilities.
  • It would not be sustainable because they wouldn’t make enough money. If there is a will there will be a way prepared. You never know what doors will be opened up as you work on your craft. One thing is certain, if you do what you love you will be one of the best at it. Being one of the best at doing something will shine through. You will be noticed, and success is inevitable.
  • The path to get there was too hard so they gave up. Don’t let giving up be an option. Sometimes the road is hard but be open to trying a new avenue to get there. Must successful people have hit dead ends along the way and started over and over again. Nothing worth having comes easy.
  • They settled for second best and rationalized with themselves that it was the right choice. Make a commitment with yourself to do the number one thing that your heart says. If you have not, find the courage to make the right choice now.
  • They are embarrassed of their dream and didn’t have the courage to try. Imagine how far I would be if I had started blogging twelve years ago instead of being embarrassed that I wanted to do it. Instead I decided to do what people expected of me and got a job where I punched a time clock. Biggest mistake of my adult life. Never be embarrassed of your unique abilities.
  • They didn’t even know what their dream was until they felt it was too late. It is never too late. As a matter of fact when I was 20 I didn’t even know what my dream was other than having a large family. Having children was my dream back then. However, even at that time I knew that there was something else there, I just didn’t know what it was yet. I had to trust that one journey would lead me to the next. By the time I knew exactly what my dream was I was into my 40’s. Interestingly enough it was exactly what I said I wanted to do in second grade, which was to become a writer. You see, the heart knows, but sometimes we let life get in the way and don’t listen. Had I started the road to blogging 12 years prior, I would have recognized that much earlier. However, I was eventually led to the same place. Instead of saying it was too late or that I was too old, I decided to go for it. I now do what I love every day.
  • They didn’t know what they loved or what to do. This is sometimes how it is, you just don’t know. But here is the thing, as you go through life and try doing things you will find out. {But you have to get out there and try.} Just like every other affair of the heart, when it is right, you will know it. I feel that this is one of the reasons having children join Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts when they are young is such a great idea. By working towards and earning badges they will have the opportunities to try a plethora of activities. Some things they will hate, but others they will like. It is a great way, just by trying new things, to find out what is loved. Meditation also helps as it opens up self-awareness and clarity. Another option is to go back in your mind to when you were little and first knew what you wanted to do. This is usually between the ages of six and eight, before life clouded things over. Many people find that these first innate desires are in fact what will bring them happiness.

When you choose a career for the right reasons and do something you love it shines through in all aspects of life. As a matter of fact, it has been proven time and again, that careers which were motivated intrinsically have made some of the most successful entrepreneurs and wealthiest people. For instance, Bill Gates had the goal of putting a computer in every home and office to make people’s lives better. He had no intention of becoming one of the wealthiest men alive, nor did he realize that was on the horizon when he started.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs, How To Live Before You Die

Whether you are just starting out in life, or half your life has been lived, seriously consider choosing a career path where motivation comes intrinsically. It may be a rougher journey in the beginning, but there will be nothing more satisfying than giving yourself the gift of achieving your hearts desire. Regardless of the path you have chosen, or your age, or your lot in life, the key is to realize as long as you are living and breathing it is not to late to do something different. Love yourself enough to not shut the door on doing something you have always dreamed of doing. Love yourself enough to start over. After that decision is made, trust yourself enough to make the journey, even if it leads to closed doors. Never give up, because eventually the biggest door you can imagine will swing right open and give you the welcome of a lifetime.

Click to read related topics & suggested books on this subject. I love using the audible app and listen to books wherever I am.

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  • Reply
    Michael Metcalfe
    April 17, 2017 at 5:07 am

    When I was a young boy I fell in love with all things electrical or electronic. I knew what it was that made me happy and what I would be fulfilled in when choosing a career. Then I grew up and wanted stuff, like my own place and a wife and kids and a car and a house and food, you get the idea. So I settled for working for the railroad. After 33 years of making ends meet and raising 6 kids, I found myself in a position to make that old dream come true.
    I started my own computer repair business, and guess what happened, I made more money than I ever did at the railroad.
    Looking back, I regret the hours I spent doing an unfulfilled job. I could have been much happier and richer had I followed my dream in the beginning.
    The moral I guess is, when you can, never let money be the motivator.
    The love of money is the root of all evil.

    • Reply
      Amylia Coover
      April 17, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      So true! If someone doesn’t know what they want to do or are unsure what to do they should think back to when they were younger. And by this I do not mean high school. Go back to the earliest time you can remember, this is usually 6,7 or 8 years old. You knew back then. Life often gets in the way and clouds our judgement or we settle. I am glad you were finally able to do what you loved. I like to see it that the universe brought it back around to you. That is usually the case with things of the heart. Like an echo they will eventually come back.

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