I’m excited to have a guest post by Dan Miller today about some common career mistakes. Dan is the author of the widely acclaimed 48 Days To The Work You Love and No More Mondays. He writes regularly for many popular magazines and web portals, including CBN.com, Crosswalk.com, In Touch, AARP and Success magazines and the Zig Ziglar newsletter. He has been a guest on CBS’ ‘The Early Show,’ MSNBC’s ‘Hardball with Chris Mathews,’ 700 Club’s Living The Life and Fox Business News with Dave Ramsey Show… to hit some highlights. He hosts a weekly podcast that is consistently ranked #1 under Careers on iTunes. Dan is also a frequent speaker and guest on popular radio programs like Moody Broadcasting, Crown Financial, Janet Parshall’s America, American Family Radio, and Prime Time Chicago.
“Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
This verse has been distorted in two critical ways: 1) To justify cramming spiritual principles onto impressionable children to make certain their theology matches that of their parents; and 2) To force a child to move up academically and socioeconomically from the parents.
A truer reading of the original text might be: “Train up a child in the way that he is bent . . .” The challenge of parenting is to discover how God has uniquely gifted children and how the parent can help each child excel in that area.
It’s high time we recognize that it’s okay for children to make less money than their parents. There will be times when the son of a surgeon will be most gifted as a truck driver or carpenter or musician or missionary. That’s okay! Better than okay, in fact.
Well-intentioned parents, teachers, pastors, and others in positions of influence can easily misdirect an impressionable child if external opportunities are the only criteria for career selection. For example, here are six misguided criteria for choosing a career:
Mistake #1: Choose a career based on demand.
With entire industries becoming obsolete in four to five years, we cannot possibly predict the jobs of the future. Every diploma has a built-in expiration date, we just don’t like to be up front about that.
Mistake #2: Choose a career out of guilt.
Some jobs are perceived as more godly, humanitarian, socially noble, or environmentally responsible careers. While honorable, using these as external criteria can misdirect a person from doing what is a proper “fit.”
Mistake #3: Choose a career that promises job security.
Security is a slippery concept in today’s work environment. Little security is found in any company or job. The only security is in understanding yourself—that will provide a compass for navigating the inevitable changes.
Mistake #4: Choose a career for position, status, and power.
This is likely to be an elusive path, leading to rapid burnout.
Mistake #5: Choose a career that promises the greatest income.
This mistake is similar to #4. If you start by looking for the money, it will likely stay forever just outside your grasp.
Mistake #6: Choose a career based on a job opening.
Advertisements in online job bulletins are probably the worst of all influences. Random job openings cannot match your uniqueness or a proper alignment of your calling.
A better way to build a career
The power of confidence in career choice does not begin by looking to outward opportunities and external factors. It comes from looking inward for the alignment of personal characteristics.
For anyone searching for the best career track, start with these questions instead of the factors listed above:
- What was I born to do?
- What would be my greatest contribution to others?
- What do I really love to do (and when I’m doing it, time just flies by)?
- What are the recurring themes that I find myself drawn to?
- How do I want to be remembered?
Parents, guidance counselors, and life coaches, I realize these questions may not seem as practical as the mistakes I listed above. But when we fail to understand ourselves, when we are not true to our unique God-given characteristics, we lose the power of authenticity, creativity, imagination, and innovation. Our lives become performance-based, setting the stage for compromise in all other areas of our lives.
Even as we focus on the work aspect of our lives, be very aware that getting a job is only one tool for creating a meaningful life.
Read more of Dan’s insight on careers in his book 48 Days to the Work You Love.