Dropping The Idea of a “Soul-Career”

soul-job

Soul Mates.  The romantic idea of one person made just for you.  No others could ever bring love and joy and fulfillment.  Just him.  Just her.  Is this romantic notion fact or fiction?  Some hold to this concept like a religion and spend their life searching for and holding onto the one person who completes them.  Others scoff at the idea of there only being one in a sea of billions.

Whether or not you hold to the idea of soul mates, most of us do hold to the idea of “soul-careers.”  And I think it hurts some of us.  Let me explain.

I used to think I must have a soul-career: one tangible career that would lead me into my 50s or 60s happily and successfully.  This idea terrified me.  How was I going to choose THE ONE?  What if I regretted my choice and wanted to breakup from my career?  Would the 45 year old me still be into it?

The Boyfriend and I were talking about how amazing it is to work for ourselves in creative fields while living in various countries throughout the globe, but we both wondered if this was something we’d want to do forever.  If not, what do we do then?!

But I remembered something: life is full of weird twists and turns you could never expect.  Our careers may be like that too.  And even though the core of who we are may stay the same, we are still evolving and changing creatures.  Yet, we sometimes tie our hands by thinking we must have the same career at 22 that we do at 42 and 62.

It goes like this:

We got to school as children.  Then the government suddenly tells us we are adults, and we are to choose a college major that will guide the rest of our lives down the path of our soul-career.  We are supposed to spend 40 hours a week for the next 40 years in this one and only job.  Then we retire and do all the things we’ve always wanted to do.

There are 3 massive problems with this “Soul-Career” concept:

  1. At 18 or 19 or 20 years old, most people still don’t know enough about themselves to confidently choose one career for the rest of their lives.
  2. People change throughout the years.  The person I was 5 years ago is not the exact same person I am today.  The person I’ll be in 20 years – I can’t even imagine who she’ll be!
  3. Hating what you do everyday and praying that retirement comes quickly sounds like a good way to miss out on way too many years of your life.

This is why I think we should drop the concept of the soul-career.  Instead, we should embrace the idea that there may be more fish in the career sea!  Sure, there are some lucky folks who grow up knowing exactly what they want to do for their entire lives.  They confidently choose their major, soar through their careers, and feel sad to leave at retirement.

Then there is the rest of us.  Maybe we don’t know what are passions are, or maybe we have so many passions we don’t know how to choose, or maybe our passions and interests change a lot.  How do we choose our college majors and careers?  What if we’ve already chosen, but want to change our minds?

If you are one of these people, like I am, maybe we aren’t soul-career-ers.  And that is perfectly okay. Here’s the deal for us:

  • You only need to take the next right career step at at time.  Take step 1, then step 2, and don’t try to jump to step 312.  You’re not there yet.  You won’t be there for years. What is going to pay the bills and nicely support you and your family?  What are you good at and interested in right now?  Do those things.
  • If you end up hating the college major or career path you’ve chosen, don’t stay stuck. Get creative.  How can you combine your the education or experience you do have with the path you’d rather go down now?  Maybe you’ve studied medicine for years and hate it, and you want to be a writer.  You could easily write for health companies and market health and medicine as your niche.
  • Sometimes you just yell “Plot Twist!” and change your career: As long as you’re taking care of your responsibilities, the world is yours.  Why feel obligated to stick to one idea? Yes, it will take some hard work and extra time, probably some extra learning and dedication too.  But you are not bound to any one career forever.  For inspiration, here’s a list of 13 awesome people who did a huge career change.

So my friends –

If you are currently making the college major choice with fear in your eyes.  BREATHE.

If you are starting a new job and have no idea if you can make it into your career.  BREATHE.

If you are a few years in and like it, but wonder if there is something else out there.  BREATHE.

If you flat-out hate your career and want to switch.  BREATHE.

If you’re a parent who wants to dump the career to be a full-time parent. BREATHE.

Then remember –

There are seasons in life.  Winter doesn’t have to look the same as spring.

You. Are. Not. Stuck.  Be bold and be brave.  And lose the idea of a “Soul-Career” – there are so many other fish in the career sea.

P.S. – I love writing.  I thought I would write 80% of the time and edit 20% of the time.  That’s changing.  I’m finding that I like the balance of about 60% editing work and 40% writing work.  Also, someday I may teach.  Also, someday I’d like to be an activist.  Also, someday……..

soul_career

41 thoughts on “Dropping The Idea of a “Soul-Career”

  • January 7, 2016 at 6:43 am
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    I had to laugh as I envisioned myself running out the door of a job yelling “plot twist” the same way people used to yell “par core!”. Haha. Great post. Very true.

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:30 pm
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      LOL – Now I have that vision in my head too :) Love it!

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  • January 7, 2016 at 8:48 am
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    i grew in the age of hearing about a soul career but I have learned over time a person changes. What I thought I wanted in my 20’s is definitely changed in my 30’s and now 40’s. I agree in today’s world your not stuck there are so many options out there.

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:30 pm
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      I couldn’t agree with you more :)

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  • January 7, 2016 at 9:39 am
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    So true coming from someone who just left 20 years in chiropractic practice to health and fitness blog full time. Thanks for writing this.

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:31 pm
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      I love that you did that!!! Good for you!

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  • January 7, 2016 at 9:48 am
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    Thank you for writing about this topic. My husband and I are both in our 30s and have been discussing the idea of doing ‘our life’s work’ and realized that we still don’t know what that is yet. Thankfully, we’ve had fulfilling careers, but I think there is always room for growth and transition!

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm
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      Yes! So true! When we step out of this notion that there is only one job out there for us and we must know by 20 years old, we open ourselves up to the fullness the world has to offer!

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm
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      Thanks so much, Angie. Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more :)

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  • January 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm
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    I agree. After years in the Corporate America where money was great and I could buy whatever I wanted, I realized that now I work from home and doing something to appeal to the vast senses I am now more happy than ever. :)

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm
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      That’s amazing! Love your story :)

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  • January 7, 2016 at 2:39 pm
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    I definitely agree with this – I didn’t know what I wanted to be until this last year. I worked super hard and just got hired on at a company that I know is going to bring me happiness and joy. I wanted to be an art historian at the age of 18 and followed that path for long enough to realize that there is NO money in that career. I grew out of the mindset that I had to do that ONE thing to be happy.

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:33 pm
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      Yes. It is so easy to get caught in that mindset of searching for the one magical thing that’s going to make us happy. Love your story!

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  • January 7, 2016 at 3:44 pm
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    I LOVE this post! Which I will share with everyone I know! I’ve been very fortunate enough to find a few different soul-careers, each of which I’ve found unexpectedly through my own plot twists. And through my own “jumping off the cliff into the unknown” experiences, I wish more of our society realized how beautiful & beneficial soul-careers are. I’m convinced that individuals would be much happier if they followed their passions :)

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm
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      You are so sweet Colleen!! Big hugs!

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  • January 7, 2016 at 3:45 pm
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    This is one of my favorite posts that I have read in awhile! I totally agree with everything you said. I have always hated the fact that we have to choose at a young age what we want to do with the rest of our lives! I have a Bachelor’s degree and a Post-Bac. because I switched fields in my late twenties. I am 44 and onto what I am trying to make into a new career – blogging. It is my favorite thing that I have done so far, but have yet to make money. Doing what I love is the most important thing to me, and if it changes again, I’m okay with that!

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm
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      Thank you so much! I love that, Willow! Doing what you love (which can totally change throughout our lives) is so very important!

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  • January 7, 2016 at 5:08 pm
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    This is SO great! I have so many friends in their 20s who are wrestling with this same idea. They started a job post-college that pays the bills but that they aren’t super passionate about and they wrestle a lot with if they’re doing the right thing. This is such a great reminder that transitioning jobs throughout life is totally normal and can actually be a way to live a life that is more fulfilling and joyful in different seasons! Great post, Taylor!

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:36 pm
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      Thank you so much Lauren! I have so many friends in the same boat. Sometimes it’s like we need a permission slip to change our minds. We don’t actually need it, but we feel like we do. It’s amazing how much the world opens up when you’re willing to embrace that life is full of different seasons!

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  • January 7, 2016 at 7:39 pm
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    I’ve got two or three friends who have switched their careers in their late 30s and 40s. Definitely, what you do at 20, might not be what you do at 30 or 40. It’s all about what’s right for you at that time that can also help you get by. Great post.

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:36 pm
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      Completely agree with you :) Thank you!

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  • January 7, 2016 at 11:07 pm
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    I completely agree with you so much of yourself changes and evolves and so does your career and what you love. I believe your must do work that feeds your soul as much as you can do it will change every couple of years

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:36 pm
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      So true, Lindi!

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  • January 8, 2016 at 10:43 am
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    GREAT post! I am currently making the decision to change careers, it is freaking scary. But I know it needs to be done, being miserable is not worth it. We shouldn’t have to spend our days hating what we do.

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:36 pm
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      Thanks, Mae! I know you’re going to rock it :)

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  • January 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm
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    As someone who has changed careers multiple times in my adult life, i agree 100% with this idea. Both of my parents worked the same job out of school until retirement, so i always felt like a failure that i hadn’t found my “calling” yet. Now that i am finally pursuing my true passion with my business in my 30’s, i still have a 2nd job that is fulfilling and pays the bills in the meantime. It is an ever-changing pursuit.

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:38 pm
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      I love reading your story. I’ve been surrounded by people who have had one solid career from an early age too. So when I had all these ideas and wanted to change my mind and even anticipated career changes, I felt like maybe I was doing something wrong. Not at all! It is an “ever-changing pursuit” as you said!

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  • January 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm
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    This is so great and I couldn’t agree more- while some people are lucky and do have a “soul-career” and remain passionate about the same thing throughout their careers, I have certainly changed so much already and know I will continue to change throughout my life! I can’t imagine doing the same career forever. This post reminded me a little of a ted talk I watched recently about people who change passions often, called “multipotentialites.” I think you might like it!

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:38 pm
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      Oh I’m so glad you brought that up!! I’ve been meaning to watch it!

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  • January 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm
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    I love this so much! I have been struggling lately with this exact thing – what will be the right next step to take me to where I want to be in 5, 10 years? But I think I need to take your advice and just choose what’s right for me right now, and trust that life will guide me in each stage.

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    • January 9, 2016 at 8:39 pm
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      Yes!!! While we can be aware that the future will come, we can never truly plan for it. It will come when it comes. Thank you so much for this comment!

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  • January 15, 2016 at 12:45 pm
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    I’m with you on this! I hate the idea of a 40 hour a week job that sucks my soul out of me. I’m almost 30 and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up!

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    • January 18, 2016 at 11:28 am
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      You and me both, my friend 😉

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  • April 28, 2016 at 11:13 am
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    Well if this isn’t just one of my all time favorite things I’ve ever read, ever in my life. And to have read it right now – um, perfect timing. Thank you, friend!!

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    • April 28, 2016 at 6:18 pm
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      Thanks, my sweet friend.

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  • April 28, 2016 at 11:58 am
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    This is SO great!

    I remember EVERYONE in high school was obsessed with finding that one magical career they would have for 40 years but for me I saw it differently thanks to my family since they’ve had MANY different careers in their 35 year work history so for me I just planned my 5 year career. So far I’m on year 3 of my 5 year career and I don’t love it but I don’t hate it either so time will tell if I need to move on(like any good relationship!)

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    • April 28, 2016 at 6:19 pm
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      Yes – I love just planning for the 5 years. That is a great balance of wisely planning, but being open to possibilities! Awesome!

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  • April 28, 2016 at 2:31 pm
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    This was so me two years ago. For the first 3/4 of my twenties I thought being the most awesome Executive Assistant was the thing for me, until it wasn’t. Then I picked up my entire life to move to a whole new state (I was terrified). Now, I’m married to a wonderful man and back in school pursuing a degree for a totally different career path. Sometimes you need to take that risk to make yourself happy.

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    • April 28, 2016 at 6:19 pm
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      I love love love this! “Sometimes you need to take that risk to make yourself happy” = preach, girl!

      Reply
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