We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Worrying about choosing a career is a First World Problem, isn't it? All that most people need and want is a job in which they can succeed and survive. Extra money is even better and many people prefer that even if the responsibility is onerous and stressful.
Another problem with the "career" idea is that it implies a lifelong occupation with some sort of upward trajectory. Today, however, many if not most people change jobs, or careers, during their lives. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not.
Work that "does good for others"? All compensated work does good for others or it would have no monetary value, but the work which does the most "good for others" is work that creates jobs. It makes sense to claim that it is the entrepreneur and the inventor who do the most good for others and for society as a whole.
Want to do good for society and for others? First thing: be independent and self-sufficient. Second thing: support your family and raise them well, if you have one. Those are the most valuable things a person can ever do.
What about the idea of a "calling" or a mission? Interesting idea but usually only applied to religious or medical paths and most people would like to be writers, artists, or musicians if they could. I have never heard anyone claim a calling to software sales, but far more people build interesting, fulfilling, and useful lives doing the latter than the former.
Many are called but few are chosen. Missions and passions make for good hobbies if they do not seem to work as income-producing jobs. Everybody needs cool hobbies and sports, and a stimulating social life, to round out a life so it's a good idea to make time for one's passionate pursuits too.
I never did figure out what I really wanted to do. After dropping out of college, I joined the military in desperation. After 20 years in the military I starting working in the IT field because the opening was there, and my other skills weren't marketable. After 10 years working in the IT field I just want to retire someday with financial security.
I believe it was P J O'Rourke who said the best way to help the poor is to not be one of them. I've always said Sam Walton did more to help the poor than anything anybody in Washington's ever done. But I don't know that I really agree with Mike Rowe - there's a trade-off between doing something you enjoy more for less money and doing something you enjoy less for more money. The trick is to find a way to make money doing something you enjoy doing. Sure, you're probably never going to make it as a movie star or a musician or a writer, but there are plenty of jobs on the periphery that provide a good income and an opening for a shot at giving it a try if the opportunity crops up.
This is the kind of realization that comes to one late in life--if at all.
The question of how we are to live our one and only lives has spawned a publishing empire. I fell for the "follow your bliss," literature and consequently went nowhere. What I understand now is that just about any worthwhile work feeds the need to be productive.
Agreed. In order to succeed at work one must identify and exploit the 'good opportunity' when it comes along. Usually does not happen right away. Personally I got an opportunity in real estate appraisal (after doing and failing at other things) and 18 years later am very good at my job and am self employed.
Actually, back in the day, it wasn't so much as "career" vs "job", it was more did you take apprenticeship training up on "The Hill" for a job (as opposed to being just a labourer, and it was the rare family who sought that out for their kids), or did you head to the nearest University for a degree, so you could come back at work as an engineer at the same "plant". Knew also of a family who - faced with a bright child - was prepared to re-mortgage the home to give said child a University education. Fortunately for them, said child got really good scholarships, but the family was ready to make a big sacrifice.
I think what Mike Rowe usually suggests is choosing a career. If you don't want to do something that requires a college degree, then learn a trade and become good at it. You'll make decent-to-good money and have a marketable skill. If you want to make a lot of money, then use the trade you learned to start your own business.
Advice that I was not smart enough to follow when I was young.
I agree with the approach of chasing opportunity. It's nice to think of getting paid for something I happen to enjoy doing, but it's more likely to happen if I concentrate on choosing among the things that people want to get done enough to create big incentives for them. Chasing a dream in a dying area is a good way to confuse the categories of "hobby" and "gainful employment." Training yourself to master a hot area means having bargaining power, because you're in high demand.
Kaczynski says that Man needs a Challenge, to make life worth living.
But the challenge can't be too easy to accomplish, because that's not satisfying. The challenge can't be impossible to achieve, because that would be frustrating. It has to be just right, so you get that warm fuzzy feeling of having succeeded at something.