Piggybacking off my last post, I thought I’d expound a little more on the idea of picking one career for our entire lives. This really does seem kinda crazy to me, that we still do this, especially given how our professional lives seem to be growing longer and longer (people living longer, putting off retirement longer, etc.).

I’m a photographer; not by trade, but I am avid hobbyist, and I have done it semi-professionally on the side in the past. When I was first really getting serious about the craft and hooking up with other aspiring photographers to learn, teach, go on photo expeditions together, etc.; one recurring theme I encountered was that many of them dreamt of shaking off their current careers as engineers, accountants, office admins, etc., and embarking on a new career as a professional photographer. Now, of course, many of them would never end up actually doing this for a variety of reasons ($$ being a big one, realistic skill level being another), but it was impressive how many of them had this desire. This told me not just how passionate they were about their newfound love of photography, but how dispassionate they had become about their existing career fields. They were tired of it, but going through the motions because that’s all they knew and that’s what paid the bills.

Is this what we want in a workforce - a batch of workers that are experts, but hate their work and are only continuing to do it for the paycheck? Is that we want for ourselves as people - to trudge off to jobs we hate every day? It seems to me that our system is skewed, that we need to rethink how we educate and train people at early ages. We need some sort of more multi-disciplinary approach that would allow people to move between different career fields more easily, and perhaps even encourage doing so, so that people don’t burn out and end up leaving their careers entirely.

Now, of course, many people do remain passionate about their chosen career field through their entire professional, working lives; I’m not suggesting this is a one-size-fits-all problem or approach. All I’m suggesting is that we need to rethink how we educate and guide people early on, so that for those who do reach a breaking point, we’ve made it an easier slide to another profession, thus keeping the people happy and productive, and the employers and society flush with talent.


p.s. I know I could have made this a better piece with links to well-sourced studies and such, but as I only had about 15-20 minutes to kill on writing this, you just get a straight-up opinion piece. ;-)