“I’m known as a creative person, and am interested in marketing, but also think it might be more responsible to consider law”
I’Ma 29-year-old bored accountant. Yup, I’ve become the stereotype, and it wasn’t by accident. When I started out, I wanted a career that would give me a secure salary. Accounting has given me that, but now I’m burnt out. I know it’s time to make a change, but I’m afraid of making another mistake.
For years, I’ve looked at people who chose creative fields with interest. I’m known as a creative person, and am interested in marketing, but also think it might be more responsible to consider law.
Is there any formula for making the right decision?
Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from psychology class?
No? Well, it’s exactly that — a pyramid of a human’s needs, ranging from meeting the basics (food and shelter) on the bottom, and personal fulfillment all the way on the top. Makes sense, right? If you’re working on finding your next meal, you probably don’t have time to “find yourself.”
I like to apply this concept to careers.
Why do we work? At the basic level, it’s simply a way to pay the bills. For someone who didn’t grow up with financial stability, that concern is even more pressing. At the beginning of your career, you may have been standing at the bottom of the pyramid, just glad to have a roof over your head.
Once that becomes a given, you progress to addressing higher-level needs. On Maslow’s scale, at that stage people start thinking about a sense of belonging. At work that translates into fitting into company culture, and joining a network of mutually beneficial relationships.
Next, you’re free to focus on areas like esteem: earning recognition for accomplishments and finding opportunities for advancement. You work harder and get an award, possibly followed by a promotion.
And then, just when you think you should be satisfied because you’ve made it, suddenly your view changes, because things look different from the top of the pyramid. Now you’re looking for self-actualization. You’re looking for new opportunities to develop yourself and your skills in ways that will bring you meaning. Now you’re aiming for the higher-level goal of deeper fulfillment and personal satisfaction.
All this deserves hearty congratulations! This new problem means you have achieved a level of success. Recognizing that this may be where you are right now may help clarify your current dissatisfaction, as well as answer your question about considering law. Are you only considering it because it seems like another “safe” option? If so, that’s making a decision from the bottom of the pyramid, which will likely result in similar dissatisfaction in the long-term.
At this point, you might want to consider the things that you really enjoy doing. A career that uses your natural talents, embraces your interests, and helps you develop skills that you haven’t been able to afford to cultivate until now, may be more in line with where you are in your life and work path. This time around, you can make a more thoughtful choice that embraces many more aspects of yourself, and create a career that brings you the deeper level of satisfaction you’re searching for.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 944)
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