by Pete Schulte
It’s a question that many of us were asked as children, as teenagers and again as we work our way through our college careers.
In childhood, we often aim for the dream: the astronaut, the racing driver, the pro sports player, etc. As we get older, we’re trained to believe that only the truly elite get to live that dream, and we can certainly make an effort to achieve it. Perhaps it will still happen for us. However, we should start thinking of something more reasonable just in case we don’t make it.
Now some people at this stage find their passion almost immediately and travel down a path to achieve their more accessible dream job. I have a friend who knew he wanted to be an engineer since he was a teenager. He went to engineering school, did excellent work, and had a job offer from a major engineering firm before he even finished with his degree. If you’re one of those people, kudos to you. I envy you.
The rest of us, however, tend to muddle our way through our college careers doing one of three things: talking ourselves out of pursuing our true passions in life, putting off that passion and focusing on the “safe” major and career choice or trying to find that thing that defines us.
As a 29-year-old non-traditional student who returned to campus life after a seven-year hiatus, I’ve gone down the “safe” path before. I majored in what I like to call “stuff and things” and got an associate degree in said “stuff and things.” With no passion or motivation behind the degree other than to get the piece of paper, it had no purpose for me. I had a steady sales job that paid reasonably well. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. Eventually, however, that sales job started to feel more like a job and less like the career I was hoping it would turn into.
While my experience by no means makes me an expert, I do think I can provide a weighted opinion on settling on the “decent” job versus pursuing something you’re passionate about: Pursue the passion every time.
According to a poll by Gallup, adults in the U.S. employed full-time work an average of 47 hours per week. If you factor in the recommended eight hours of sleep per night, that translates to 42 percent of our time awake is spent working. If you’re to spend nearly half of your life working, I’m of the opinion that you owe it to yourself to find your passion and pursue it. Find something you take pride in and get fulfillment from. Doing anything else is selling yourself short. Too many people settle for the easy road and major in “stuff and things” or prolong the suffering of a job we hate simply because the pay is decent.
It’s time for self-discovery. Really examine your selected major/career path and ask yourself why you’re on that path. Truly consider what it is you enjoy in life and what you’d like to be doing every day, and see how that lines up with the major/career path you’ve chosen.
If it doesn’t line up, don’t you think it’s time to make a change?