How to make wise career choices

When I went to college, choosing a major wasn’t too difficult for me. I’ve known what I wanted to do ever since I plagiarized a book I’d read in order to write my first story. (The book was called Ginny Gordon and the Mystery of the Missing Candlesticks. My “original” short story was called “Daisy Sundown and the Mystery of the Missing Tiles.”)

When I was 12, I had a story I wrote (all mine this time) published in American Girl magazine. In the little author interview, I said that I wanted to be a writer someday because I wanted to paint pictures with words.

Painting pictures with words has always been my goal. But even on the way to being a writer, I’ve had to think through career decisions — even though I’ve known what I want to do, I’ve had to be discerning and wise about my choices.

For example, in college I chose to major in journalism instead of English. I would rather have studied English because it would’ve allowed for a creative writing emphasis. I would have been able to do the kind of writing I wanted to do. However I majored in journalism because I got more variety. A journalism degree would teach me how to write articles — and I could expand my style after I knew the basics.

A journalism degree also probably allowed for more variety in job choices. I could edit, I could write, I could work for a newspaper or a magazine. Although I would’ve enjoyed the English degree, I thought it would limit my job opportunities to teaching. (Of course, that may not be true for everyone, but it was part of my thought process as I chose what to do with my college career.)

After college, I knew that I didn’t want to write for a newspaper — it didn’t allow me to be as creative as I wanted to be. But I still applied for newspaper jobs. I was qualified for them, and they would help me pay bills. I didn’t end up working for a newspaper — the Lord blessed me with my job at TrueU, but it is good to know that I have the skills for a variety of writing jobs if and when I need to move on to something else.

The point, I guess, is that I believe it’s important to think through options when looking at college classes or job opportunities. Sometimes you may choose something you’re not as “passionate” about because it’s a more practical choice. Reality hits in the form of rent and car payments and it’s good to have made career choices that will help pay those bills.

If possible, find something you enjoy doing, but if you need to tweak it a bit for a time, that’s OK. Life is long — we have lots of seasons — and most of us will do lots of different things over time. If you find yourself in a job you don’t love at the moment, take it for what it’s worth. Learn what you can, and eventually you can move on.

So, let’s discuss. Do you enjoy your job? Are you happy with your career choices? What can you do to get where you want to be?

Copyright 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.