5 Career Myths You Need to Throw Out the Window

Horse Blinders
Career myths act like blinders, restricting you to the path you think you should be on and preventing you from developing to your full potential. Once you get these career myths out of the way, you can really focus on building your career.

These are five career myths that you need to let go of:

  1. My job is my career.
  2. A career is a planned, long-term commitment during which you live out your passion and feel fulfilled. A job can be part of your career, but many jobs are just a way to pay the bills. The key difference between a job and a career is motivation. Are you in it for the money or because you want to live out your dreams? Do you feel stuck working because it’s necessary or are you excited to wake up in the morning and tackle new tasks?

  3. The right career is stable and secure.
  4. According to an American Psychological Association survey, almost half of all Americans consider job stability a source of stress and this percentage has been increasing. No matter how stressful change can be, it’s now the norm. Fortunately for you, once you come to accept this fact, you can use it to your advantage. Besides, as John Steinbeck once said: “We spend our time searching for security, and hate it when we get it.

    In the face of insecurity, you have to keep educating yourself, updating your skills and changing with the trends. People with this type of flexibility are the ones who thrive in the modern world. Throwing out the predictable also means that you have the freedom to be proactive and make positive changes in your career — make a case for a raise, ask for flexible scheduling and rewrite your own job description while you’re at it.

    To send this point home, below is a quick interview with philanthropist and entrepreneur Adam Carter on prioritizing your passion over the stability of a “traditional” career path:

    YouTube Preview Image

  5. Everyone’s following the traditional career path.
  6. Researchers from the Norwich Business School in the United Kingdom conducted an extensive review of career research in the last ten years and there’s a clear trend from the traditional, linear and hierarchical career path to a more dynamic work context. In the face of decreased job security, more and more people are demonstrating their resilience and adaptability by creating boundary-less, ever-changing, non-traditional careers for themselves. Change your outlook and be open to the new possibilities that come with this new concept of work.

  7. Career success is all about how talented or intelligent I am.
  8. Yes, these qualities play a role, but guess what’s at least equally important: your network and your networking skills. In an article from the Journal of Applied Psychology published in 2009, researchers from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg conducted a longitudinal study that demonstrated the role of networking in both objective and subjective career success. People who were better at building, maintaining and taking advantage of their contacts had better salaries that generally increased over the two-year study period and were more satisfied with their careers. Put yourself on track to career success by working on your network, building a stellar reputation and developing your personal brand.

  9. I can only have one career.
  10. Marci Alboher is credited with penning the idea of “slash careers.” For example, I’m a freelance writer/editor/translator. Marci is an author/journalist/writing coach/speaker. The idea behind her theory is that you should find and follow your passions, whether or not the careers seem to make sense together. You’ll make them make sense for you!

    If you love what you do, it’s not necessary to draw a line between life and work. It’s also refreshing to finally acknowledge and embrace the human tendency to have varied interests.

Which career myths did you believe before reading this article? Can you think of any other career myths?

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16 Comments

  1. Posted May 22, 2011 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Good points. If I may add a myth: “Collect recommendations.” Nonsense. I am 44, have worked in the U.S. and Japan, for several firms and in several industries – and have yet to be asked for a letter of recommendation.

  2. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Ooh!! =) Great story, Saul! This wouldn’t have been a myth for me if I hadn’t heard it from you! =) Loved it! =)

  3. Vinny T
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Excellent words of wisdom Samantha. A fulfilling career is probably an important goal for most, but regrettably an impossible one for many to realize. They are often condemned to unsatisfying work for a lifetime for reasons both stated and unstated in your article.Jobs simply aren’t available in many professions that individuals would like to pursue and they have t settle for far less than what they aspire to.

  4. Tammy W.
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Great advice, from the Queen of Networking! ;) It’s such a different world, now, than it was for my grandpa, who worked the same job for 30+ years, & earned a pension, which helped support my grandma for 20+ years after he died. It’s hard to get that historic idea of job security out of my head. Thanks for this post!

  5. Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    LOVE the John Steinbeck quote, “We spend our time searching for security, and hate it when we get it.”

    I had job security . . . in a job that I HATED. I had health insurance (really good health insurance) and dependaple (though crappy) paycheck every two weeks. I was unbelievable miserable. Since quitting that job to follow my dreams (and of course, I did this with a plan – I needed to make sure my baby was taken care of), I have worked so much more than I ever did at my JOB, but I LOVE it. I love the freedom. I love that I’m getting paid to do what I love!

    Fabulous article Sam!!!!

  6. Robyn Jackson
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    Loved this and I loved your opening line “Career myths act like blinders, restricting you to the path you think you should be on and preventing you from developing to your full potential.” How true! For years I was devastated because I hated my jobs but figured I’d never have a “real” career. Now I am starting my career as a writer…just starting with baby steps :) Thank you for sharing this with us…posting it on fb for others to read.

  7. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    Solemn words, Vinny, but oh so true! My hope is that people still take those steps to pursue a fulfilling career. Often, it’s the journey that’s most meaningful! =)

  8. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    Tammy, what kind words! I am so honored to hold that title in your mind. =)

    You know what’s funny? Although it’s rapidly changing, in Japan, the lifetime career is often still the norm. I asked for a reference letter from my supervisor there once and he said that he had never written one before because people don’t need reference letters there since they never change jobs!! =P

  9. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Ooh! The perfect personal story to underline the message I wanted to convey, Dayle! Your newfound, refreshing energy shines through your words and it’s so clear that this is the path for you. =) I’m so glad you took the steps to realize what you truly wanted.

    And you bring up a really good point! It’s not about jumping into the inferno and seeing what happens. Planning is important too, especially since a career is long-term!

    Thanks so much for your feedback, Dayle!! =)

  10. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    Me too, Robyn! I didn’t even think about having a “career.” I definitely had my blinders on. =P

    I am so excited about this transition in your life, Robyn, and it sounds like you’re super enthusiastic about it too! I really hope to support you during your journey.

    Thank you so much for supporting *me* by sharing too by sharing my article!! =) Hugs!

  11. Posted May 29, 2011 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    I HAVE job security, great health insurance, and a nice paycheck every two weeks- but my job is definitely not a career. And I’m not happy doing it. It’s just a paycheck. I only do it because I have to. Or do I? Now you’re making me wonder! I think I’ll be printing this article and hanging it up to remind me to keep working towards my dream job(s), and starting my “career”! Thanks Sam!

  12. Susan Dickson
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Great article Sam! I have to admit I easily get in a rut this way. I need to keep this article and remind myself to follow my dreams more often.

  13. Posted May 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for such wonderful tips.

  14. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Sandy, I loved your thought process here. =) Thank you so much for sharing your insights. It seems like the most important part is to start thinking about it because it ignites the fire. =)

  15. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much, Susan! =) The ruts are what life is all about, but I’m glad you’ve chosen to follow your dreams!! =)

  16. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank *you* for commenting, Tere! =) I’m glad this article struck a chord with you!

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