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It’s Time to Give Up on a Career Path That’s a Straight Line

Topics: Career Advice

In the past, career plans were often simple. You decided what you wanted to be when you grew up, pursued education and training in that field, and then began climbing the rungs of that particular ladder to see how high you could ascend before retirement. But, things are changing. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the reasons why a zigzagging career path might be more realistic than one that follows a straight line.

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Image Credit: Unsplash/Pexels
  1. It’s better to pursue your interests and passions than a specific job title.

We’ve learned something over the course of the last couple of decades about asking kids what they want to be when they grow up. More and more, we’re encouraging young people to explore their passions rather than focus on an end-game career goal or even a specific job title. Today’s workers want to feel connected to what they do, and they want to be excited by their jobs and the role they play in their organizations. Pursuing passions rather than a certain career path is a good way to go about keeping our eyes on the real prize – fulfillment.

  1. The world is changing so quickly…

It’s essential to keep in mind that many of the jobs and industries that exist today weren’t around 10 years ago. So, the same will be true 10 years from now, probably to an even greater degree, because the world is changing faster than ever. Given this fact, it would be limiting to commit to a straight and narrow career path, when you don’t know what kinds of opportunities the future might have in store for you.

  1. Most people don’t have linear careers anymore.

The fact of the matter is that careers just don’t look like they used to. Most of us will not retire from the organization we linked up with right after college. Actually, the new normal is for millennials to change jobs four times in the first decade after obtaining their undergraduate degrees. In many cases, these young workers are changing industries, not just jobs.

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“A college degree used to slot you into a 40-year career,” economist Guy Berger told CNN Money. “Now it’s just an entry-level point to your first job.”

According to this study, the most common industry for job-hoppers is media and entertainment, with professional services, government, education, and non-profits following closely behind. But, whether you’re in one of these fields or not, a fluid non-linear career path is a more acceptable and normalized route to follow today than it has been in the past.

If you’re considering making a change, check out PayScale’s Career Path Explorer. It provides some fascinating information about common career trajectories. Have fun considering your options and your interests; we’re lucky to live in a time where we don’t have to limit our futures because of our pasts in quite the same way as the generations that came before us. We would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t consider thinking (and maybe working) outside the box.

Tell Us What You Think

Has your career path been a straight line or has it zigzagged a bit? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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