Where’d My Career Go?

In these tough economic times, many people are finding that there are fewer choices for them to make regarding their careers. Some fields that were very much open years ago are now either much more limited or completely closed. People are finding that instead of a career, they now have simply a job to make ends meet. They are working at anything they can find that will generate some income, whether or not it is what they would like to do.

One dictionary source defines a career as a “course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life”). The same dictionary defines a job as a “task to be performed.” There is a great difference between “progress” in life and a “task to be performed,” when it comes to any positive feelings derived from the two. A career carries the implication, I think, of growth and development, where a job implies something that must be tolerated. Financial remuneration is made for both, but greater reward is assumed for a career.

At the beginning of our work lives, most of us like to think that we will find a place for ourselves that is not only financially rewarding, but emotionally rewarding, as well. The feeling of gratification cannot be overstated when we feel that our work is both necessary and appreciated. Growth that comes in incremental steps in our career provides us with mental stimulation and compensation.

Sometimes when we cannot find an opening in the career marketplace that suits our needs and qualifications, we turn to getting what we consider second best: a job. This is what we do until we find an opening in a field we have more of an affinity for. It is something to be tolerated because it pays the bills and partially restores our sense of self-esteem.

Free will is a term that may be defined as “the ability of someone to make choices free of constraints.” In today’s economy, a good number of us feel that we have few, if any, choices regarding where we work and what we work at. Not only are we unable, perhaps, to work at our chosen career, we are unable to find a job that we would find remotely tolerable. This saps our self-esteem.

Currently, many feel that they have no choices free from “constraint.” They do what they must do for financial survival. In the meantime, they wait for better times, times when there are more choices to be had as more opportunities re-open. Until that time, they will work at jobs and put their careers on hold, doing the temporary task while waiting for the more permanent course. They utilize free will to endure what they need until a greater selection comes about, a selection that will offer career satisfaction in their lives.

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