When contemplating a career, it can often seem as if the path ahead is smooth and clear. You know you have considered your options, decided how you want to spend your working life and what you need to do to achieve it; all you have to do is put your plans into action, and wait for the future to play out as expected. Unfortunately – or, in some cases, very fortunately indeed – most people will experience a few surprises across the course of their career, with the following being perhaps the most common of all…
#1 – You may find that you “live to work”
According to a famous phrase, it is better to “work to live” rather than “live to work” – which, on the first inspection, seems to make sense. However, some people do live to work – and they’re delighted by it. If you find a job that you genuinely love, that sparks genuine passion and excitement in you, then you may well find that “living to work” actually suits you. Many people define themselves by their profession, for their profession brings them the greatest fulfillment in life – that’s why many people win the lottery, but continue to work regardless. We’re all different, and while some people may find the idea of living to work challenging, for others, it’s ideal – if you’re content, then that’s all that matters.
#2 – Very few career paths follow a linear progression
When most of us contemplated our careers as teenagers, we imagined a somewhat linear – if a little old-fashioned – progression. We imagined that we would select an industry, start working in that industry in a junior role, and then be promoted through the ranks. However, modern careers rarely follow such a reliable, steady progression. Partial career changes are incredibly frequent, as exemplified by the likes of Philip McTigue; talented people who start their career in the public sector, but eventually transition to a corporate working environment – or vice versa. There’s really no such thing as a clear career path these days; things change, skills become transferable, and in the most extreme cases, you may find yourself in the following group…
#3 – You may not find your real passion until later in life
The sadly-departed Alan Rickman – most commonly known as Snape in the Harry Potter movies – did not embark on a film career until the age of 41 – a time in life when most people assume that your career is set in stone. However, Rickman’s case is far from unusual; for some people, finding the career you love takes time, and perhaps requires experimenting with other routes to firmly establish what you don’t want. Ideally, it’s best to see the future of your career as something of a question; it may be exactly as you expect, but you also never know what might happen if a surprising opportunity comes your way.
Most people think about their career from an early age, which can create expectations as to how their future will pan out – but as we have seen, even the best-planned career may still have a few surprises along the way.