Career Choice Dilemma: What Do I Choose That Will Make Me Happy AND Successful?

Posted: March 6, 2018

Making the right career choice is a big step for young adults; more so today as there is a plethora of choices out there. What can make you both happy and successful?

Recently, I came across a post on a social media forum by a young girl, indicating her confusion with regard to her career. The post sounds something like below:

“Hi all, I am a B. Tech student. However, I don’t want to pursue tech jobs. Can anyone please advise me what should I do?”




Due to having a keen interest on the concept of career, I stopped by.

Such a situation is not very uncommon in today’s world. I am sure, many of you (including me) have also experienced a similar situation in different phases of our life – either with our own selves, or with our near & dear ones, or with our acquaintances.

I was about to attempt to analyze what can be done to make a course correction. But, then I paused. I always feel that before coming to any solution, a root cause analysis is a very essential approach to uproot the problem. Otherwise, only symptoms will be resolved, and that too, on a temporary basis.

On this journey of root cause analysis, it became clear that there could be many reasons for taking up a study stream or profession which may turn out later to be not so interesting.

Why do we make a wrong career choice?

So, why do we take up study in careers that we find ourselves bored of at a later point?

Social and occupational prestige

Some professions are under some social spotlight like medicine, engineering, law, army, navy, etc. However, there are thousands of other professions too, which can be chosen as a career, and people do become successful in those arenas. Are we aware of their existence?

Peer pressure

We often select something by being impulsive when we see that most of our friends, or our cousins, or our family members, or someone from the previous generation has chosen some specific profession. We feel that those professions are in our blood and we will be successful in it, without an iota of doubt. But, is that the case always?

Imposition of parents’ ambition

In many cases, we get burdened by our parents’ ambition. I can recall that my niece wanted to become a nurse. When I asked her the reason, she mentioned that it is her mother’s wish which she wants to fulfill.

Fulfilling parents’ wish is not a bad thing at all. But are our wishes & strengths also aligned with our parents’ wishes? Do we have the competence to take that ahead? Are we leveraging our strengths by doing that? Is there any uniqueness in me being neglected by doing so? Questions to ask self.

Parents’ awareness

Our preparation for a career starts at a very early age, even before we properly realize and understand that. The first step towards it is when we choose our educational stream / specialization after our / our children’s study on general subjects. But how much awareness do we have, as a parent, about the career options available for our beloved children?

Unavailability of facilities in the neighbourhood

It is possible that the colleges at our nearby area do not offer the subjects we wish to study and pursue as a career in future.

Marks of the entrance exam become selection criteria

It is not uncommon that we are chosen for a subject of study or a stream rather than we choose them. When we apply for further studies in colleges, different aptitude tests play a great role. And, there our proficiency becomes the criteria to be chosen.

There are many other reasons. But, above are the more prominent ones.

So, to win over, we – both the students and the parents – really need to be aware and make adequate preparations. A fulfilling and successful career is a journey by itself, with strategic planning and apt execution honoring the time line. Ignorance can kill our aspiration at the very budding stage.

Questions to ask yourself before choosing a career

A very clear conception on below questions, I feel, can give a good head start:

  1. What does a ‘career’ mean to me?
  2. What is the definition of ‘success’ as per my values, priorities and preferences?
  3. What do I really enjoy doing?
  4. Am I good at what I enjoy doing?
  5. If the answer of the fourth question is ‘yes’, how good am I on a scale of 1 to 10? Is there any scope of further improvement?
  6. If the answer is ‘no’ to the fourth question, how do I bridge the gap to become competent of what I enjoy doing?
  7. Is what I enjoy doing viable as a career? Is there market demand for the profession I love – both the present as well as the future demand. To answer this, one might need to seek help from the experts.
  8. Have you ever thought of / dreamt of having your own business instead of getting into a job?

Taking some time out and pondering over these thoughts can really give valuable insights.

These questions are even equally important to those, who are looking for a transition from one profession to others – A foundation of a successful and happy career.

Do we want to become successful without being happy? Or, would we be able to become successful when we are unhappy? To me, the answer is a big ‘no’. Therefore, it’s time to take a step to be happy and to be successful, together!

Published here earlier.

Image source: By Shivam Jain Kakadia – Clicked on own, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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Jayati is a Corporate professional, working as a Manager – Human Resources with a leading German

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