As I continue to progress through my career, I have uncovered that there are a few things we have been taught about climbing up the corporate ladder or building a career that simply aren’t true.
Let’s get myth-busting!
Career Myth 1: You NEED to absolutely love your job
One defining factor here is the fact that job ≠ career. These concepts are often used interchangeably but are actually not the same. The main difference is that a job is something we do for money whilst a career is a long-term endeavour that is made up of a combination of factors that may sometimes include a job.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.– Confucius
I am sure we have all heard this quote or something similar before.
It sounds all well and good in theory but is this achievable or should we even be aiming for this? I don’t think so.
This common career myth caused me endless trouble. While the notion of loving what you do to the point of it never feeling like work is nice, how achievable is this? As people – post-pandemic – come to terms with the fact that we are SO much more than our jobs it stands to reason that we have also realised that a job is just one facet of a diverse and long list of things that bring us contentment, joy and a career we love.
If we break jobs down to the crux of it all, why do we work? We work to support ourselves and find meaning. We can trace this right back to our “hunter-gatherer” beginnings. Whilst we should find a job we enjoy, it really doesn’t have to give us butterflies as we walk through the doors and if getting up and going to work feels like work, that’s okay too.
Finding a job that you love is not impossible but it’s difficult and the obsession with being in a job you simply adore can lead to lots of missed opportunities in other areas of your career.
I enjoy my job immensely, but I do not love it, and walking into the office each day does feel like a chore – especially on Mondays. Having said that, this job allows me to pursue other things I love and expand my career. I am able to pursue a Master’s degree, mentor students, and write for this blog. All these factors together lead to a career that I love and find fulfilling.
You really don’t have to love your job, you simply must like it and allow it to be a platform for you to pursue things that you do love.
Career Myth 2: Good things come to those who wait
If you wait around in a company, going through the motions for 20 years, you might just become CEO.
If you wait around, you will eventually get a good enough increase.
But why wait 20 years?
Don’t get me wrong, experience is vital but gone are the days where CEOs or Partners to the firm were 50-something-year-old greying men. Executive management and partnership opportunities are presenting themselves earlier and earlier and you really don’t have to prove your worth by hanging around for 15 + years to be eligible.
Grab the opportunities that come your way even if you’re feeling a bit wet behind the ears. Something I learned quickly in my career was that when presented with an opportunity that I seemed inexperienced for, was just to jump in the deep end and figure it out as I went along.
There is no right age to ascend the various rungs of the corporate ladder. If you need proof, have a look at this year’s SAICA Top 35’s Under 35 or Forbes Top 30 Under 30. There’s also no right time to be earning in the income bracket you think you should be in. Ask and, often, thy shall receive.
Good things don’t come to those to wait, good things come to those who go out and get them.
Career Myth 3: What we do in private will be rewarded in public
For the longest time, I had assumed that my co-workers and bosses could see that I was working hard and smashing KPI’s right out the boundary; that the late nights and early mornings were getting noticed. The truth is, they often don’t.
Sometimes, you’ve got to toot your own horn.
Walking the fine line between pride and arrogance is tough but learning to walk it is imperative for success.
Worked a gazillion hours for a big presentation that went well? Let the powers that be know that you did (in a tactful manner of course).
Did a cool short course? Update that LinkedIn profile!
Found a more efficient way to do something? Great, let the team know instead of leaving it in that work paper to go unnoticed.
Often, if we don’t let people know how hard we are working in some way, the effort can go unnoticed. When performance appraisal season dawns upon us we wonder why people haven’t noticed our hard work.
Be proud of your achievements – publicly.
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