In this article I am going to discuss the the proverb: “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I am going to argue that though what it says is apparently very true and is very attractive to hear, it is extremely difficult to put into practice and is not pragmatic in today’s changing times. Is it always possible to follow such an ideal goal in the choice of a career? Is it suited to the temperament of a modern day youngster? Will it help in choosing a career path that will win the pecuniary benefits, which after all are at the root of choosing any career? I am going to deal with all these questions.
I think the one fact most of us would agree upon is the profound truth behind the statement. There are any number of apt analogies. A brilliant singer, a talented sculptor, a mathematician or a scientist are just a few examples that come to the mind immediately. When will a singer who sings melodiously, a sculptor who brings forms to life out of stone realistically or for that matter a mathematician or a scientist be successful in their careers? The answer is simple. They will be successful if they love what they do.
Now comes the all important question. What are the prerequisites to love what you do? First and foremost is that one has to be to be good at what one does or in other words one has to have talent for it. If a person has to struggle hard to do something well and has limited talent, then it is only natural that the person will not enjoy it. So far so good. I assume all of us are in concurrence at least with this one point. We will not have to work a day in our lives if we find something we love to do.
Let us now consider the other factors involved, which go to show that such a simplistic argument may not suffice to make the basis of choosing one’s career. Though it might sound pessimistic, one does have to consider the practical aspects of a career. Enjoying doing something is one thing but to be successful and make a career out of what one loves to do is another. Questions like how paying a career path is, what are the opportunities for shining in the chosen profession, how competitive the field is and a number of sundry other things come into the picture. These are very valid and pertinent questions. Simply saying I love what I do; so I will do it is not enough.
Above all else a person has to be able to pinpoint and find the one thing that he or she is good at. This is easy for some and very difficult for others. I have seen several people who are phenomenally talented in most things they attempt to do. On the other hand there are those of us who have very limited skills and do not have such a wide range of choice. I don’t mean to sound harsh but mother nature realized that variety is the spice of life. She made each person differently.
Not all of us possess skills which make us stupendous in one particular thing. There are those of us who are brilliant, those who are above average, those who are just average and those who are below average. And it stands to reason that all of us have to survive and make a living. And even if we are too good at something and we are also fortunate enough to discover what that one thing is, it may not be a suitable choice for a career.
Take sports for example. A sport like cricket is a religion in our country. Even if someone is very good at cricket it is extremely hard to break into the top rung because at the very top there is room for only eleven players.
Not only cricket, the story is the same in many other sports. At the top there is only space for a phenomenally talented few. I am not saying one should not chase one’s dreams. All I am saying is, it is necessary to observe a modicum of pragmatism also while choosing a career. Schooling being what it is, it is not always practical to adamantly refuse opportunities and mindlessly get obsessed with one particular thing. If one does that there is always a chance one may succeed. But the repercussions of failure when one chases something without a second rung to fall upon are terrible.
We hear of several prominent youngsters who have talent in Cricket, Hockey, music and any number of things. They chase careers in these fields and get obsessed with the ideas of making it to the top. If for some reason their dreams do not come true and they are left with no options, it leads to depression and other related problems. And apart from shining in a particular field one also has to consider the monetary benefits of a career. Not all jobs are paying and all said and done we work primarily to make a living.
No point in going after a career which at the end of the day is not going to help you make ends meet. Then comes temperament. One may be very good at something. But to single-mindedly chase that one thing and to make a successful career out of it, one also needs the mental makeup. Sometimes the field in which one has talent may be a field in which there is extreme competition. Consider for example the amount of competition in the music industry today.
The television channels are teeming with reality music shows. Musicians and singers are cropping up everywhere. It is not like the olden days when there were fewer singers and a talented person had better chances. In this competitive music industry sometimes parents push children to completely neglect academics and chase music.
Same is the case in sports and the film industry. I have read numerous accounts of men and women who work as extras in Hollywood and Bollywood for a lifetime. They start off for Hollywood or Mumbai, starry eyed and eager to make a mark in the glitzy world of the film industry. They neglect their families and education and devote themselves single-mindedly to a career in the movies. There are many who made a mark. We hear of many rags to the riches stories of how a carpenter or a door to door sales man makes it big in the film world.
But for each such success story there are thousands who face rejection and this leads to a complete breakdown of their lives. Nothing succeeds like success but a lifetime of failure can break a person completely.
And when one is unable to make a mark in the chosen field it results in disastrous consequences. It leads to extreme depression, ill health and a score of other related problems. I am not saying one should not chase a dream. As someone rightly said if you don’t chase your dreams you do not live life fully. All I am saying is, have a second rung in the ladder to fall upon. If you are not able to make it a success in what you love and like to do, have something that will stand you in￼ ￼￼good stead ￼and prevent your life from nose-diving into a ￼deep abyss from which you cannot recover. This article might seem to be striking a negative note to many, but prudence is essential especially in today’s highly competitive and fast paced world.