A More Realistic Career Path

I have found flux to be an interesting concept and one that took me quite a while to get used to. The idea that things are always shifting and nothing is truly fixed. Many people understand this about general life, but it also applies just as readily to your career. Students and even professionals often think of career paths in a linear way, which makes sense. It helps people plan ahead and can give you a sense of security. Although this may make sense in the short-term, it is often much more difficult to apply to the long-term. It is simply too difficult to predict as much as we want it to be. Flux isn’t a new concept, we see this all the time with the long-term unpredictability of weather and stocks. The farther out in time you go, the more unpredictable the path becomes.

Learning to be comfortable with flux is difficult to do. Even I struggle with this at times. Being more knowledgable about the idea of flux somewhat helps, but certainly doesn’t break years of linear thinking. From organized activities as a child, having a set schedule in high school, a 4-year degree plan mapping out your college classes, to learning to set 5/10/15 year professional goals for yourself; we are compounded with structure and finite paths for most of our lives and we try our best to get our adult lives to reflect those same patterns. Then when we are suddenly hit with the unpredictable, we don’t know how to handle it. Not getting into the graduate program you’ve been targeting for years, learning about an exciting potential opportunity that veers away from your original goals, thoughts of pursuing a different career path, or LIFE in general hitting you like a bus speeding down a freeway.

The possibility of a different path, a path you had not planned for, can be scary to think about. How does one handle that? I think that remolding how you think about flux can make it easier for when change does happen. Not if, but when. A good place to start is by trying to be open-minded to change and understand that change is bound to happen. Being afraid of potential change that may or may not happen does nothing to help you. This will only serve to increase your anxiety about unknowns and could even cause you to hesitate during a time where you need to make a critical decision. When change does happen, it also helps to know that life does not have to be a linear path to be a good one. Just because we feel more comfortable with a planned path, does not mean that other paths are not worth exploring and finding out about.

Think about all the changes that have happened before you reached this point in your life or career. Many of you may not have even imagined yourselves in this exact position in your life and career just 5 or 10 years ago. There was a time when I considered becoming a 3D CAD Engineer after high school, I instead decided to learn more about what makes people and society tick through public administration and sociology. Aiming to become a nonprofit administrator, I instead found myself gravitating toward my work as a tutor at the local high school talking to students about how to get to college. Applying for a master’s teacher certification program, I instead realized I couldn’t see myself doing that long-term on a day-to-day basis. The education, knowledge, and skills I had gained were meaningful and useful experiences, and I am confident that there will be new ones in the future.

Things change and pretty often at that, no matter how much I seem to plan otherwise. How have you seen flux at work within your own path?

By Rohit Prasad
Rohit Prasad Career Consultant, Denton Campus