When you are young, people begin by telling you that you can be whatever it is that you want to be, and that sounded nice. You begin to explore and sample different areas and different work styles. For some people this continues; however, that was not my experience.
My experience might be more like yours, if you lived in my kind of family. As I explored different subjects at school, the guidance around me increased toward one goal....MONEY. Then, I would get it at home, too. I remembere telling my dad one time that I was really getting interested in my positions on the school newspaper and yearbook staff and that I thought I would really like being a news reporter. My father didn't miss a beat to downplay that idea, saying, "Aw...they don't make any money." He would finish the conversation by pointing out all the work he is doing and wanting me to make money to not have to work so hard.
So, that would become my guiding principle, at home and at school. The other subjects were FUN, but they would never pay the bills and so were not possible. Conversely, therefore, the highest potential jobs would be those that made MORE money or got MORE success to show to others, regardless of whether I would like it or not.
The next decade was a period of career search and exploration, trying to make that happen. When you take what you WANT to do off the table, everything else is equal by comparison, so it's hard to pick one....having to make a lot of pro-con lists and consider benefits and etc. And, nothing gives you passion, leaving it feeling an empty choice.
However, I tried a few options and had some success. I was in the military, earning the Army Achievement Medal, Battalion Soldier of the Month, and more. I would work hard and finish my MBA in Acccounting. I would use that degree to work as a retail manager, bringing my department up from the bottom of the region to near the top, and an accountant for the IRS and a IBM. So, I had succeeded and was happy, right?
Wrong. I was miserable, because I was living a life that was not mine...for people that would barely even notice and would not BE in my life, as I got older. My critical father died. My brother and other men would be critical of my choices. My ex would not respect or praise me for my work accomplishments. My managers would take advantage of me without loyalty. My co worker environment was one of competition and criticism by everyone wanting to get ahead of others. In the end, after I left that toxic environment and started to make decisions for myself, all of them left my life.
So...why....did I choose the jobs and careers that I did?
In the last few years, I have begun to make decisions for myself, because I realized that no one else was really on my side of choosing what I wanted to be or do in th first place. They were interested in whether my personal or work choices confirmed THEIR life vision for themselves or satisfied THEIR values. It has meant less money, but it has meant more happiness... all while my critics heap more scorn and mock my choices for being a "failure" at being like them.
So, I hope this chapter can help others out there that are deciding what you want to do with your life. You DO need to make ENOUGH money to pay your bills, but you DON'T have to and SHOULDN'T let that excuse or the pressure of others make your choices for you. If you do, you may find yourself decades down a road you don't even like for critics that are never satisfied and won't remain, if you choose different or fall along the way. Rather, make choices...at any age...that you will be happy with doing and with whom you have become, when they all go away.