11 Myths About Choosing a Career

Forget Everything You Think You Know About Career Planning

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Do you think you know everything about choosing a career? Many people believe they do, but often wind up choosing a career that is unsatisfying. That's because those beliefs are actually myths. That's right—they aren't true! If you want a fulfilling career, you should know the facts about how to choose one. We'll dispel 11 myths about choosing a career so you can find out how to do it the right way.

1. Choosing a Career Is Simple

This is entirely false. Choosing a career is anything but simple. It is a complex process that you must give the time and attention it deserves. First, you must learn about yourself, including your skills, interests, work-related values and personality type. Then you must gather information about the careers you are considering. Taking these steps will allow you to make an informed decision about which occupations are a good fit for you.

More: Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Career

2. A Career Counselor Can Tell You Which Occupation to Pick

A career counselor or any other career development expert, can't tell you what career to choose. He or she can help you learn about yourself and then tell you what careers are suitable for you based on that information. You will have to do your homework and then make the final decision after considering everything you have learned about it.

Once you have chosen a career, the counselor can help you find out what training you will need to reach your goals and then show you how to embark on a successful job search.

More: How to Work With a Career Counselor

3. You Can't Make a Living From Your Hobby

Who says you can't? When choosing a career, it makes perfect sense to select one that is related to what you enjoy doing in your spare time, if you so desire.

Don't forget to research it, just as you would any other occupation. You want to make sure it's a good fit for you. There's a big difference between wanting to do something for fun and having to do it to earn a living. It will also occupy more of your time.

More: Make Your Hobby Work for You

4. If You Don't Find Your Passion, You'll Never Be Happy

You may have repeatedly heard that you have to be passionate about your career for it to be satisfying. Not true! It is important to like what you do, but you don't have to love it. If you can take your passion and turn it into a career, more power to you. You should be most concerned with finding a career that is a good match for your skills, interests, personality type and work-related values.

More: Finding Your Passion

5. You Should Rely on "Best Careers" Lists

Every year, especially during milestone years, for example at the beginning of a new decade, numerous articles and books contain lists of what "the experts" predict will be "hot jobs." It can't hurt to look at them to see if any of the careers on it appeal to you, but you shouldn't use the list to dictate your final decision. While the predictions are usually based on valid data, things often change.

What is hot this year may not be in a few years from now.

More: 10 Reasons Not to Rely on Best Careers Lists

6. Earning a Lot of Money Will Make You Happy

While salary is important, it isn't the only factor you should look at when choosing a career. Countless surveys have shown that money doesn't necessarily lead to job satisfaction. For many people, enjoying what they do at work is much more important. However, you should consider earnings, among other things, when evaluating an occupation. You have to make enough money to pay the bills and to live the lifestyle you want.

7. Once You Figure Out What to Do You Will Be Stuck Doing It Forever

That's not true. You can change your career if, for any reason, you become dissatisfied with it. You will be in good company. Many people change careers several times over the course of their lifetimes.

More: 10 Steps to Changing Your Career

8. Your Skills Will Go to Waste If You Decide to Change Careers

No matter how many times you change careers or jobs, your skills are yours to keep. You can use many of them in a variety of occupations. You may not use them in exactly the same way, but you don't need to worry that they will go to waste.

More: What Transferable Skills Do You Have?

9. Your Best Friend's (or Sibling's) Dream Career Will Be Yours Too

The person with whom you are closest may have, what appears to be, the best career ever. You may think "if it's good for him or her, it will be good for me." That could be true, but it may not be. Even if that other person is someone with whom you have a lot in common, you may not enjoy doing the same type of work. Look into it as carefully as you would any other occupation to make sure it's a good fit for you.

10. All You Have to Do Is Choose a Career... Everything Else Will Fall Into Place

Choosing a career is a great start, but there's a lot more to do after that. A career action plan is a roadmap that takes you from choosing a career to becoming employed in that occupation to reaching your long-term career goals.

More: Why You Need a Career Action Plan

11. You Won't Know Anything About an Occupation Until You Start Working

While it's true that you can't know all there is to know about an occupation until you work in it, you can learn enough about it to make an educated decision about whether it is right for you. There are many ways to learn about an occupation, including looking at published resources and conducting informational interviews.

More: How to Explore Your Career Options

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