7 Dangerous Decisions That Ruin Careers Before They Begin

Posted on February 27, 2015

In life, whether it’s your career, your marriage or a litany of other situations, often times it’s not the decisions you make after the fact that can destroy you. It’s the decisions that you make before entering into situations that can destroy you.

Here are seven dangerous decisions that ruin careers before they even begin.

1. Choosing the wrong degree:
If you’ve graduated from college and have chosen a degree and a field of study based on a career that no longer exists when you graduate or you didn’t thoroughly research the career your degree is based in, you could be in for a world of trouble.

2. Pursuing your passion:
No one is a bigger advocate for pursuing their passion than I am. In fact, sometimes I think I over-index and over-emphasize the importance of pursuing your passion. The fact of the matter is that passion rarely pays the bills, because most people are passionate about things that don’t have a strong correlation to income opportunity. That being said, be sure that before you pursue your passion, you understand your income opportunity. It’s great to want to ‘help people’ by becoming a therapist, a nurse or a social worker, but those fields may not pay you enough to live the lifestyle you desire.

3. Chasing cash:
I love money. Who doesn’t? Everybody wants more of it. However, earning a high salary comes with tremendous sacrifices. Your stress-levels will increase, you’ll lose personal time and in the end you have to ask yourself is it worth it? For some people it is and that’s ok. Just know what you’re getting yourself into.

4. Choosing the wrong career:
Uh oh. You chose the wrong career. This decision is a great ‘catch-all’ as it sums up the bigger picture problem. Perhaps you didn’t research your career thoroughly and now you’re knee-deep in it and you absolutely hate it.

5. Ignoring your aptitude:
Your aptitude is critical in determining the career you should pursue. However, no one ever thinks about this. It’s never discussed in grade school or in college. Instead, teachers, professors and guidance counselors ask students “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What are you interested in? Those are the dumbest questions anyone could ever ask themselves as it pertains to making the biggest decision of their life, which is choosing their career. When you’re a child you have no idea how many different career options are truly available and as far as choosing your career based on what you’re interested in, that could change by the second. If you focus on your aptitude, you’ll choose a career based on your natural gifts. It’s a great starting point for determining a career field that will best suit your natural talents, gifts and abilities.

6. Outlandish expectations:
So many people go into their careers with outlandish expectations. I blame this on the fairy tale that’s presented by high school and college guidance counselors. Psych majors and nurses know about this fairy tale all too well, as they’re told how incredible it will feel to help people and change or save their lives. That sounds great and it is, but eventually the ‘feel good syndrome’ wears off and what’s left is long hours and low wages. If you’re ok with that, then that’s fine, but what happens if you’re not?

7. Silly salary demands:
Lawyers are intimately familiar with this issue. It’s not their fault though. At least not entirely. Over the past few years law school students and alumni have been suing their colleges left and right for misleading them about the salary expectations of their field. While a tremendous amount of blame can and should be placed on the universities who mislead these students, that doesn’t negate the responsibility of the individual who should be conducting their own independent research.

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