I’m so tired of society acting like being career oriented is the be-all and end-all.
It’s really not.
Is it ok not to be career-driven? This was the question I found myself asking several years ago. The answer I came up with was a firm “hell yeah”.
I’d like to share with you in this article my 10 reasons why I think it’s perfectly ok.
I have no desire for a career
I’m going to just lay it all out on the table right now.
I find the whole obligatory “what do you do?” chats when you first meet someone totally dull. I think there are way more interesting things to learn about someone.
I don’t have a clue where I see myself in 5 years’ time — and who cares anyway, a lot can happen between now and then.
And I really can’t be bothered to slowly climb the career ladder. Only to release that the view from the top wasn’t all it was cracked out to be.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have passions and interests in life.
It doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn, grow and improve myself throughout my life. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have a meaningful and full life.
Is it OK if I am not career-oriented? 10 reasons why it is
1) Finding meaning matters more than accolades or outward “success”
I know what’s important to me.
I can’t help but think society’s obsession with career paths is all wrapped up in selling us the “American Dream”.
Work harder and you too can have it all.
But what if I don’t want to have it all, what if I want to enjoy what I’ve got.
I accept and admire some people’s so-called work ethic. Some workaholics get a real buzz out of it. Some people genuinely feel fulfilled from working their way up in a business.
Although I do believe that very few people probably lie on their deathbeds and think “I wish I’d spent one more day at work”.
But, hey, we’re all different.
And I think that’s perfectly ok. We all value different things, and I think we should all build our lives around what we value.
I really believe that it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters more how you do it.
But if on the other hand you can find meaning and value in life and work — then it really doesn’t matter what it is you do.
For me, finding more meaning in the work I do hasn’t come from having more successes.
It has come from focusing on what matters to me. What I can personally take pride in.
It has come through valuing myself as a person. And also from contemplating how my role (no matter how small it might be) impacts others.
2) You can end up following someone else’s path
There was a girl in my neighborhood growing up who worked so hard to become a doctor.
She missed out on so many special occasions, events, and parties. She avoided relationships so she could stay dedicated to her studies. She sacrificed for “her dream” of being a medical professional.
The problem was, it wasn’t her dream.
And after devoting about 10 years of her life, and tens of thousands worth of dollars and debt to making it a reality — she gave it all up.
We get pushed into thinking about what we want to do from a young age. Conditioned by parents, society, or just an overwhelming fear of being left behind.
A lot of career driven people end up following someone else’s pre-prescribed path, rather than carving out their own.
3) Who wants to be a corporate slave
I don’t want to turn this into a rant about “the system”. But I do want to highlight that it’s no accident that society is so work-obsessed.
The pressure you feel to always be working and the guilt over whether you’re doing enough suits the capitalist society in which we live.
I like to have nice things and enjoy life’s luxuries just as much as the next person.
But the incessant craving for “more” that is pushed down our throats makes a lot of people feel like they have no other choice than to become corporate slaves:
- Sleepwalking your way through life.
- Working hard and feeling like you get nothing in return.
- Having your boss and your job rule your life.
- Overworked and underappreciated.
4) Because life should be looked at as a whole
A career is only one slice of the pie of life.
Rather than zooming in and focusing solely on your career, I think it is more useful to zoom out and ask yourself what kind of life do I want to live and what are the goals that I have?
Not being career oriented can mean that you get to enjoy a better work-life balance. I’ve always been more interested in making sure all aspects of my life feel healthy, strong, and balanced.
That means relationships, family, wellbeing, learning, and growth too, as well as whatever work I’m doing.
A career isn’t the only outlet and expression of a life well-lived. But I do think we all still want to feel motivated in life. We want to wake up with a spring in our step.
There’s no denying that creating a life we love takes work.
What does it take to build a life filled with exciting opportunities and passion-fueled adventures?
Most of us hope for a life like that, but we feel stuck, unable to achieve the goals we wishfully set at the start of each year.
I felt the same way until I took part in Life Journal. Created by teacher and life coach Jeanette Brown, this was the ultimate wake-up call I needed to stop dreaming and start taking action.
So what makes Jeanette’s guidance more effective than other self-development programs?
Jeanette’s created a unique way of putting YOU in control of your life.
She’s not interested in telling you how to live your life. Instead, she’ll give you lifelong tools that’ll help you achieve all your goals, keeping the focus on what you’re passionate about.
And that’s what makes Life Journal so powerful.
If you’re ready to start living the life you’ve always dreamt of, you need to check out Jeanette’s advice. Who knows, today could be the first day of your new life.
5) Passion can have many outlets
Let’s not forget that you don’t have to do what you love most for a living.
One of the most talented artists I know works in a bar. I’ve had several conversations with him about why he doesn’t try to make money from his art.
He says that he is happy creating and doing what he loves in his spare time, without turning it into a career path.
He has found another form of income that he likes doing, which allows him to keep working on his art while also enjoying a good lifestyle.
If you want to be famous, to be rich, to be recognized for something in particular in life, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But plenty of people don’t seek fame and fortune.
Not because they have low self-esteem. Not because they are lazy or unambitious. Simply because they find multiple happy outlets for passion within their life. A career is far from the only one.
6) Growth comes in many forms
The funny thing I found was that the less I thought about my career, and the more I focused instead on my growth, the better I seemed to do in life and work.
It’s part of human nature to want to progress. To learn and develop. And if you’re lucky enough to have a job where you can do exactly that, then great.
However, if you’re not fortunate enough to have such an opportunity, you should still be able to find ways to grow as a person.
Mental growth, social growth, emotional growth, and spiritual growth are just some of the areas you can explore.
7) Your value isn’t attached to how much you earn or what you do
You are not better than anyone else simply because you go to college. You do not have more intrinsic worth whether you have a million dollars in the bank or a few hundred.
Chasing status is one of those traps that many of us end up falling into at some point or another.
Those external markers by which we measure how well we’re doing at life.
But that quickly crumbles the day you turn around and realize it’s a very empty measure of happiness and worth.
Pinning the foundations of your self-worth onto your status in society is a rocky ground to build on. It will only lead to disappointment.
8) Your contribution ultimately matters more than your career
I often wonder, what would happen if less of us cared about building a career and more of us cared about how we are contributing to society.
If our assessment of success was less focused on how well we’re doing and more focused on how much we’re giving back.
That doesn’t mean we all need to find a cure for cancer, or single handedly solve Global warming.
I’m talking about way more humble stuff that still has a powerful impact. Being kind, serving others, and doing your best.
I really think these values of contribution make a better, fairer, and more pleasant world for us all.
Isn’t that a more powerful legacy to have left than being the youngest head accountant in your firm?
Not being career-driven doesn’t mean that we can’t ask ourselves: How am I using my abilities and time for good?
9) Most of us don’t have a clue what our life purpose is
The problem with being told to follow your dreams is the assumption that we all know exactly what our dreams even are.
Is it weird to not have a dream job?
I’ve always envied those people who since they were kids always knew what they wanted to do. I don’t think that’s the way it works for so many of us. It certainly hasn’t been for me.
So for those of us who don’t pop out of the womb with such a strong sense of our mission here on Earth, then what?
What do you do when you have no career direction?
You tend to drift around from one thing to the next, wondering if there’s something wrong with you because you don’t have all the answers figured out.
But discovering purpose and passions in life is a long and winding road of experimentation for most of us.
We don’t know all the answers, we need to find them through exploration.
That can take time. And we will probably change our minds plenty of times and feel lost plenty of times along the way. And that’s ok.
10) What matters most is whether it’s ok for you
There’s no denying that society can make us feel like it’s not ok to be career-driven.
But what ultimately matters most isn’t what society thinks about your level of career ambition, …nor your parents, your peers, or your next-door neighbor.
The noise from what everyone else thinks about what we are and aren’t doing in life can quickly drown out the most important voice of all — your own.
If you are feeling confused and uncertain about what you want to do for work, it can be helpful to try to find some stillness to help you reconnect with yourself. Meditation and breathwork are amazing tools for helping you to do this.
You might want to combine this with some self-exploratory journaling about ‘what to do when you don’t know what to do with your life.
This can help you to discover for yourself more clarity and direction.
The bottom line is that it’s absolutely fine to not be career-driven, but you should still know that you do have options and you’re always free to explore them at any time.