How to Commit to a Career (and Stay Committed)

How to Commit to a Career (and Stay Committed)

Do you suck at making decisions?

Maybe you’re the type of person who can never choose which groceries to buy, or what to watch on TV.

When you hate commitment, everyday decisions can feel overwhelming.

And when it comes to the big things, like choosing a career?

You tend to procrastinate. For months, or even years.

To make matters worse, you’re surrounded by people who had no problem finding a job they love.

It sounds impossible. But with a little time and effort, you can do it too.

Here are four tips to get you started.

1) Be OK with failure

As a new graduate, your first priority is to succeed.

After all, it’s what your parents, friends, and professors expect you to do. You worked for years to get a degree, and now it’s time to put that education to good use.

But what if it just isn’t happening?

What if you’ve tried everything you could think of, and you still can’t find a job you enjoy (or are even good at)?

When you hate your job, it’s easy to start staying in, ordering delivery, and generally doing anything you can to avoid answering questions about your career

You may start feeling isolated and alone, like you’re the only one in the world who can’t get it together.

But the truth is, it’s not very likely that you’ll excel at, or even like, the first job you take out of school. The average American worker now spends a measly four years at a job before hopping onto the next.

With this in mind, doing poorly in one position really isn’t the end of your career, since you’ll probably switch jobs multiple times anyway.

The trick is to think of your career as a story, rather than a set of bullet points on LinkedIn.  Learn how to make your resume work for you, and the various positions you’ve held (yes, even the ones you’ve been fired from) will naturally look like they’re connected.

2) Don’t be a perfectionist

Leo Tolstoy once said that if you look for perfection, you’ll never be happy.

Striving for perfection makes it even harder to commit to a career. Because once you set unrealistic expectations for success, you’re bound to be disappointed.

In case you’re wondering what a perfectionist looks like, here’s a quick list.

A perfectionist:

  • takes shorter breaks
  • stays late at work
  • is overly critical of their own work
  • is sensitive to the suggestions/criticisms of others
  • is focused on the end result, rather than the process

Perfectionists take an all-or-nothing approach to work, meaning they either succeed at a task, or they fail. And when a perfectionist fails, it’s hard for them to get back on their feet and try again, which is why they have such a hard time committing to a job.

There are plenty of other downsides to perfectionism, like more doctor visits and a shorter life span.

But if you’re a perfectionist, you already know the crippling toll it can take on your health.

What you’re looking for is a way to get past it, because it’s impossible to choose a career if you’re always afraid of not doing it well enough.

So here’s a little something to keep in mind: the most successful people in the world don’t always have all their ducks in a row. They lead messy lives and have to make concessions, like giving up paying off their student loans while they raise a family.

The secret is that these people have mastered the ability to see things through. They don’t worry that things aren’t just-so, because they know that done is better than perfect.

Learn how to accept things as they are (even when they’re messy!), and committing to a career will become much easier.

3) Make yourself accountable

Final exams are one of the leading causes of anxiety among undergrads.

But they’re also super effective teaching tools, and it’s easy to see why.

Exams have numerous, tangible consequences for students. Forget to study, and you risk getting a bad grade. Sleep in late, and you miss the exam altogether.

Out in the real world, there’s no professor looking over your shoulder, ready to dock marks for spelling mistakes or unsolved equations.

Instead, you’re in charge of your own success. And this is dangerous ground for the commitment-phobic because without accountability, it’s far less likely you’ll stick to something (like a career).

To practice being more accountable, try setting concrete goals you know you can reach, like sending off ten resumes per week. Consider using a calendar to create deadlines for yourself, or a productivity app like HabitRPG.

And above all else, it’s important to work those social networks. Confiding in others about your career plans is hard, but it’s also surprisingly therapeutic.

4) Remember that a career isn’t everything

These days, we’re conditioned to believe that having a great career is one of the keys to happiness.

We marvel at the glamorous, star-studded life of Mark Zuckerberg. We yearn for the confidence to “lean in” like Sheryl Sandberg.

And when our own careers don’t turn out just as well, we’re inevitably disappointed.

The truth is, only a small percentage of the world can become CEOs, or famous athletes, or A-list actors.

And that’s OK. Because despite what it says in magazines or on TV, having a career isn’t everything.Marilyn Monroe

There are easy ways to help you remember this, like spending quality time with family or friends.

But if you’re feeling stuck, just try repeating these wise words:

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” -Marilyn Monroe

Take the plunge– don’t be afraid of commitment

Imagine you’re standing on a tall diving board.

Your feet curl around the board’s edge and you look down at your reflection, wondering whether you should jump.

You’re worried about how high up you are. You wonder if the water’s too cold.

But you jump anyway, and it feels great. The temperature’s just right and you’re so glad you had the nerve to finally get in.

Committing to a career is like taking that dive. You can make a big splash, or you can belly flop. But once you’re in the water, the hard part is over.

All you need to do is stay afloat.


Image Source: Pixabay; Wikimedia Commons

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4 thoughts on “How to Commit to a Career (and Stay Committed)

  1. Pingback: How to find your passion after you graduate | Lost and Learned | Tips and Tricks for Students in the Real World

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