We all know our parents want what is best for us. Our success is one of the greatest things they ever experience, but when it comes to career choices, sometimes (well, most of the times) what they think might be good for us is never what’s best for us.

The career path that one takes is not just affected by the great influence of our parents, but also by other factors as I will discuss in future posts.

But it all begins at home; it’s a parent’s duty to believe that what worked for him/her will also work for you, most of the time they put the need for you to succeed way ahead of your happiness.

Yes, parents do want what’s good for you but that is only good for short term interests like, advising you to avoid drugs, alcohol, certain types of lifestyles and people. But when it comes to long term interests like your education and career path, you must demand control. This is because your parents choose a career for you based on statistics, job availability, field reputation, future proof, money wise, the list goes on and on and it is always skewed to the “what is the safest option?!” side.

The University of Johannesburg Auckland Park campus at night.
The University of Johannesburg Auckland Park campus at night.

Thinking of this from a static point of view, it appears to be not a bad thing at all. I mean why wouldn’t someone who is sane enough not want to have all those things in their life?

Well, almost everybody would be happy to have that, but (this is a big but here!) what is important here is the whole thing is missing your love and passion as it is driven by an external influence, and as I have grown to realise that productivity does not only depend on what you know or where you have studied or the kind of environment you are in, it also (and heavily) depends on the love and passion for what you are doing.

Yes, LOVE AND PASSION! Think of a long-distance marathon runner who has been forced into a race, then compare him to one who loves long distance running and has passion for it. Who do you think will quit first when reaching breaking point, exactly!

Now, when you are being forced into a certain career, you are most likely to quit when the college course is extremely challenging, or when the job hunting proves too much of a task or when the workplace turns into a nightmare because you’ll be lacking the drive that comes with the love and passion.

Let us take acting as an example; you can love acting but out of your parents “best” interest, go for an engineering degree and then work for a reputable company that gives you a relatively big cheque at the end of the month, leaving you with a big smile. But that’s where the happiness will end, a big smile after looking at the cheque!

This is because money-derived happiness only lasts for a short period of time and then you return to the same emotional state you were before you had it. Well, you won’t necessarily be sad and down because you are not doing what you so dearly love but you will lack the drive to do anything else with your qualification other than seeking the “perfect job”.

Research has shown that people who do what they love tend to be more creative with how they use their qualifications. For example, it is highly unlikely that you will think of starting your own business as it requires research and reading and I doubt you would want to research about something you have zero interest in.

In addition, you will not get the whole package that comes with your career choice; believe it or not but your career does not just end with your job, no! it is a whole package-it is your life.

The people you work with should be mirrors of you in terms of interests. You should be excited to attend events related to your field, be a role model to the kid who wants to do what you do and even strive to better the field that you are in.

Additionally, when you do what you love you will have the drive to be innovative, turning a measly paying acting job into a multi-million rand acting agency, work won’t feel like work, it will feel like part of your life that you have been working hard to get to, and the challenges that come with your career will appear as opportunities to better something that you love.

So, when you think of choosing a career put what is at heart first and the influences of parent’s, statistics and society last. However, research is crucial as it is important to know what you want and make sure that what you love isn’t a dead and saturated market and if so, how do you plan to go around that.

I live by the belief that to live a successful life one must take the future into consideration just as much you do with the present, or even take it a step further and make it a priority.

Go out there and chase your passion!!

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