Career Thoughts

There seems to be quite a bit of propagandizing around the idea of a career. I remember being fed this idea in college as well as running across it on the internet in several blogs, but it seems I did not question it enough. After all, why should we seek a career?

So, what's the big deal? The big deal is that there are certain connotations around the words "career" and "job." No one calls working as a gas station clerk a career, and no one calls being CEO of wonderful companies like Pfizer a job. No, a career is made out to be a life goal (generally with better pay), whereas a job is painted as a deadend. Now, one's opinion on this is dependent on their principles, but the general persuasion of mainstream thought paints that picture, and it is so painfully parroted that it comes across as a truism.

Careers serve as surrogate activities, jobs do not. Some people get entangled with climbing whatever ladder there is at their career and can easily miss out on the things in life that do matter. No one will remember some corporate "rising star," but if that same person put the same effort into their family life or something else that actually mattered they would find that the only reason we should work is for money to support that family. A good career-man is nothing compared to a good man.

Jobs are not surrogate activities, because most people that claim to have a job also claim they do it for the money. Sure, not all jobs are as glamorous as some career, but they are certainly more honest in regard to money. Do this, get paid. Simple. The problem with the career is that it makes itself out to be something it isn't: fulfillment. Fulfillment is of course very different for everyone, but I doubt most people seek work for fulfillment rather than money. The career is an attempt to get the career-man emotionally involved in his work so that he will be a better employee. Effectively, the career mindset tries to put our skin in the game.

The good news is that whether the work is called a career or a job makes no difference; the difference is in the perception of the work, and I think it would be better for us to keep our ambition as well as our emotions out of our work, because at the end of the day, the company offering a "career" doesn't care about the person as much as it does about the service offered by the person. Contrast this idea against the family: while there is a large service component in the family unit, you can't just swap out one father or mother for another even if they have equal ability.

With all this said, we should not be apathetic about our work, but we also should not get sucked into it like some game. A career sucks us in, trying to make itself a more important part of our life than it really is. In conclusion, job or career, work is about money for actual life.

To simplify, "work to live, not live to work."