The Fit Student – Learning for the Right Career?

Our educational pursuits will eventually lead to a career. But, what if the career you are pursuing is a bad fit?

Karl Pillemer’s book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans interviews over a thousand seniors on various life topics. We will look in depth at one of those topics: your eventual career.

Pursue Passion?Not Money
According to Pillemer’s book, you should do what you love, even if it pays less. So study what you love.

When I worked in market research, I could hardly wait to start the day, and the pay seemed okay. Compare that to years later, when I worked in a genetics lab: I trudged daily to work in a state of anxiety?even though the job paid well. To pass the days, I did mindless, repetitive work. My employer stopped funding our training initiatives and even warned against me reading books on the job?books that covered skills I needed. My need to learn and grow was squelched.

Ever since that job, I suffered workplace anxiety. Now, the thought of commuting to an office terrifies me.

So, what are the alternatives to a soul-sucking job? One solution is to work part-time, according to Pillemer’s book. That way, you free up time to do the things you love, such as hobbies, volunteer work, or family activities. The senior citizens Pillemer interviewed say that no amount of money can make up for time lost on jobs you hate.

Another solution, says Pillemer’s seniors, involves leaving your career to pursue work you love, even if it pays less. I want to teach at an online university. But, if I were to secure a teaching position, it would likely not pay enough. But I get comfort in knowing I would do what I love with next-to-no anxiety: online teaching.

So, study subjects you feel passionate about. Don’t just chase the top dollar profession.

What If You Hate Your Job?
Sometimes we get an education and take up a career we hate. For instance, one former Starbucks barista spoke blandly about his accounting degree. More than halfway through his program, he realized he throve in marketing but languished in accounting.

So, what do you do if you find yourself stuck in a job you hate? Well, Pillemer’s seniors say to learn all you can from the job. For instance, when I worked at the genetics lab, I read many books on how to overcome anxiety. I also read countless books on how to find happiness in the workplace. I even read Buddhist books on how to treat the workplace mindfully.

The Buddhist books said to find gratefulness in everything you receive. So, during the long commutes to the lab, I thought about how grateful I should be for my job. I thought about how grateful I should be toward the bus driver and toward the construction crew who paved the roads I traveled. I thought of how grateful I should be for the smile I received from a fellow commuter, for the life of the dead bee on the bus’s windowpane, for central heating. I even convinced myself that I held a dream job.

So, I learned a great deal about overcoming anxiety and about Buddhist workplace philosophy. In a job that sucks your soul, learn everything you can about anything you can.

Your education should continue for the entirety of time in school?and out of school.

Learn Social Skills to Make the Most of a Career
To thrive with your professors?and with your career?develop interpersonal skills.

Sometimes people act in ways you don’t agree with or understand. Yet, you should try to understand their actions from their point-of-view, says the seniors in Pillemer’s book. One woman I care about lacks basic compassion. When someone went into the hospital due to a heart attack, this woman raged in anger against the heart attack victim. She did this because the thought of someone not taking care of health issues early-on enraged her. So, whether I like it or not, I try to empathize with her emotions.

And I’m sure you and I behave in ways other people find difficult to understand. For instance, I don’t read people’s body language well, so I fret over even well-meaning facial expressions. My lack of insight on body-language leaves me hiding in online environments.

According to Pillemer’s book, if you don’t understand someone’s behavior, probe them so that you can better empathize. And don’t judge. Don’t criticize. Don’t scold.

But, I’ve also learned how to soothe myself based on the advice from Avy Joseph in his book Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Thanks to Avy, I tell myself that, regardless of how bad a circumstance is, things could always be much worse?always. Also based on the book, I tell myself that things don’t always have to go my way. And I also reassure myself that, as long as I’m still breathing, I can tolerate anything. A stress-free mindset.

If you fail a test, in other words, life will continue, and you will eventually reset to your current level of happiness.

In his book, Pillemer’s seniors also say to devalue yourself relative to others. See others as more skilled. Yet, Pillemer’s book also says to try not compare yourself with others. I spent most of my life devaluing myself relative to others, and now that I stand up for myself more, I can tell you that seeing others as more significant than you are doesn’t aid your cause. But I do agree with Pillemer’s book that we shouldn’t compare ourselves with others. After all, everyone holds magnificence of some sort; also, everyone lacks in areas. Our life’s paths challenge us to grow in a journey no-one else could fully fathom. So, why compare?

And, finally: The Real Solution to Career Woes
Become the boss, says Pillemer’s seniors.

Now that you know what the wisest seniors say about careers, you have permission to study your passion?with a smile.

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