The Most Important Piece of Advice for Picking a Career


how to pick a career


A friend of my became a graphic book artist. He draws beautiful pictures and creates new things everyday. He isn’t rich. But it appears he is happy. The other day, I commented on one of his new creations, telling him “it was always a secret dream of mine, to be a graphic novel artist.”

Now, my father, who saw this on Facebook, is a talented landscape painter. He phoned me and said to me, “You have worked out your career now. You have a good job and you’ve sorted out all of that. But these creative dreams they won’t go away and they’ll keep bubbling up. I promise. Just draw 15 minutes a day. You’ll get good and you could create a graphic novel.”

You see my father followed his bliss. And I love him for always pushing me to follow mine. He is an artist and when I was growing up  he taught children art and painted at nights. He creates everyday. He has never won massive fame or earned huge amounts of money. But he makes the same as most and has been able to create his art. That’s worth a lot, I think.

The point of this story is that you can never really orphan your true ambitions. Because if you do, you’ll be miserable and unhappy, no matter how much money you make. You’ll live between being and the promise of becoming and the older you get, the more you’ll want to get out everyday.

The most important career advice is simple. Don’t focus on your passions. They can be misleading. Instead, focus on your core strengths.

You see, I was never meant to be a graphic artist. My dad literally taught art classes every day of the week, 10 feet from my bedroom. I could have attended each one. And I attended some. But I never really learned how to draw. I had all the opportunity but immediately I was always better at writing and music than visuals. And there is a lot of pleasure and happiness in being good at something.

But what I did discover about myself was that I’m a creator. I like to make things. Music, writing, creating this blog, and at work, digital campaigns. I work with bright people who share this strength. And that’s what makes me happy and at peace with what I do with my work days.

I’ve heard that the experts say that by choosing a career that corresponds with your personality type, you are more likely to feel passionate about your work. This makes it easier to blend your lifestyle and work commitments.

I’ve thought about learning code and becoming a programmer. It is entirely possible for me to be an B- programmer in about a year and find a place in some company. But that is too far away from my core strengths. It might excite me at first but I’d lose the passion. I like creating art, not assembling other people’s things.

Of course, there are many facets to the personality of each individual. S focus on the dominant parts of your personality when deciding on your career. This means, you cannot expect a job to fulfil every passion and interest that you have, but when you match your job with your passions an interests, career fulfilment is all the more likely.

You can also check out personality testing such as MBTI or psychometric testing and cognitive ability testing can help you articulate your skill set, highlight your strengths, and identify your weaknesses. There are many companies, such as Chandler Macleod, that offer these services. It helps to spend some time thinking about this and planning your direction.

After realizing that I wasn’t going to draw, my Dad said to me. “Well, you might not have to draw a graphic novel. But could you write one? Those books have writers and artists, don’t they?”

I can’t believe I never thought of that. The thought of writing a novel has always bored me a little. But writing a graphic novel would be cool.

And that’s my point: the object rarely matters. It’s the act. I’m a creator and because of that, I can be happy with many different paths so long as they connect in some way with creating.

What is your core strength?

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  1. Great article, thank you.
    Definitely something to think about, as this is a current issue I am struggling with.
    Do you think it’s possible, though, to be quite average at everything?

    1. I know I certainly believe that to be true. There’s nothing out there that I believe I excel at, but neither is there anything I’m particularly bad at. I wonder if it’s a motivational thing, though, and that in reality, most other people are pushing themselves the extra mile that I’m not. What do you think?

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