We all grow up with certain myths about our careers based on what we observed growing up in our family of origin, and our own goals.

Myths:

1. The more money I make, the happier I will be.

Two years ago Jason came to see me. He had gone to law school to “make money and not have his own children go through a tough life like he did with his father being a janitor.” Jason hated law school and hated practicing law even more. People who make a lot of money are not necessarily happy. Finding a career that is satisfying is more important. Knowing your abilities, skills, values and interests will help you make a good choice. When we find a career we like, we are inwardly satisfied, want to do better and are more motivated. Todd May, a writer from the NY Times argues that to have a meaningful life one must feel worthwhile.

2. There is a perfect job out there.

There is no perfect job for anyone! When we look for aspects we want from a job like good salary, job satisfaction, great boss, lots of vacation time, great hours-It won’t happen! We have to decide three of the most important things we need. The position could offer great benefits, salary and a short commute but have a boss from hell… not worth it.

3. The better school I go to – the more successful I will be.

Going to a prestigious school like Yale will give you contacts and a good job initially-but it is still up to individual performance. Last year I coached a women who went to a local state college in marketing. However, her strong determination to make a difference, develop contacts and arrange fabulous internships landed her a great job with an outstanding company. Having to pay for her own education highly motivated her to be successful. Going to a prestigious school can often make people lazy as they assume they are entitled to better positions.

4. If I go back to school for more education after my bachelors’ degree, I will find a great job.

Nowadays, there is no guarantee that any further education will assure a job. Most self-made millionaires or entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates claim they started their businesses because of their passions in a certain area.

In returning to school, the most important things to look for:

  • Does the degree match my values and passions?
  • Will it offer me positions that I could see myself working in for the next 10-20 years?
  • Does the economy have a need for my new skills or knowledge gained?

5. If I go into a profession such as social work or counseling, I will likely be poor the rest of my life.

When people are motivated by wanting to make a difference they will work hard and can have a lot of self satisfaction. It can also be a stepping stone to other careers. Often people who work at higher paying jobs and have high social status often feel imprisoned in hierarchical bureaucracies.

Finding a suitable career or making a career change is a challenge and takes lots of work. Persistence and motivation can never be stressed enough to go forward in life.