Personal Battles Part 2 – The Dangers of Risk Aversion
Many individuals face personal struggles including Risk Aversion. Here we explore symptoms and how to deal with and overcome these feelings.
Setting yourself goals, especially in the context of your career, can be of great benefit in terms of providing focus and motivation as well as helping to plan educational choices, skills training and development needs. It can help you reach ambitious targets and land the job of your dreams.
However, what happens if you become obsessed with following a particular career path just because you like the sound of the job, having not really explored what is involved before embarking on a very fixed journey to get there? Here we investigate this concept of unexplored goals and the pitfalls that can arise from a blinkered approach.
How many times are children asked ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’. From when we are quite young, we are often asked by parents and teachers what our career aspirations are while only being exposed to the most basic options of high status, well-paid, traditional roles such as Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants etc and then encouraged to ‘pick one’ to aim for.
This is often cemented by school career advisers suggesting you select a path to focus your studies on, and further endorsed by films, TV and books where such careers tend to be glamourised, dazzling many young people with the prospect of success, status, titles and perks associated with these jobs, especially in the case of medicine.
Narrowing your choices at a young age to focus only on a single career path and then sticking to it rigidly tends to define an individual’s educational choices pushing them further down a specific path with no exploration of other options that may better suit their authentic self. For instance, in the case of medicine, often if a student has decided to ‘become a doctor’with no real research of what it takes to study or practise medicine, some may find that the reality is not what they expected and is not a good alignment between the sort of tasks they enjoy doing and what it takes to be a good doctor.
At this point some students may drop out of medical school or for those who stick at it, they may ultimately find that their ‘dream job’ is not what they expected and come to the realisation that achieving your goals does not always result in happiness. This sort of epiphany can cause conflict within ourselves when we have worked hard to reach a goal which we either don’t achieve or don’t enjoy when we arrive, opening up feelings of failure and uncertainty due to a resistance to changing direction or a lack of exploration of alternative career options earlier on.
There are some individuals who feel very driven to follow a set path to a particular career from a young age and this can bring both success and job satisfaction. However, in some cases very stringent career goals which an individual has got fixated on from a young age can stifle creativity and flexibility, meaning that people sometimes stubbornly follow their original career path regardless of whether their interests and skills change over time. Opportunities can also be missed along the way if they don’t fit perfectly with the rigid target, often being automatically disregarded without exploration.
Additionally, a rigid career goal can create a highly pressurised and stressful situation. With ‘all your eggs in one basket’ and no clear alternative, it can feel like you could lose everything if the plan doesn’t work out. This can be exacerbated the further down a particular career path you get as you will have likely invested an increasing amount of time and perhaps also money in the journey.
Finally, rigidity can limit personal growth as people often choose to only engage in activities which further their career ambitions. This can be at the expense of hobbies, social interactions and other varied experiences, leading to missed opportunities to learn new skills or widen your breadth of knowledge.
The importance of self-awareness is key when evaluating if your career goals are too rigid in order to identify and be honest with yourself about whether a certain career might just not be right for you.
While defining clear goals can be very helpful for deciding on your studies and career development, finding a balance between achieving your aspirations and remaining open to alternative options which may still align with your personal passions, values and interests can provide the most satisfying outcomes.
Opening yourself up to what else is out there and researching what the job you are aiming for will actually involve can give you a better chance of truly assessing your situation and deciding if you are heading for a goal which does not really suit you.
If you decide you are on the right path, then achieving your goal is certainly cause for celebration; however, hanging onto a childhood dream because it feels easier than admitting to yourself that you want to change your route may lead to an unfulfilling career. If you can bring yourself to move on from your initial target, you may ultimately find much greater career happiness than you could have imagined initially.
If you’re feeling stuck or uninspired at work or you feel like you’re following a goal that is no longer right for you and want to explore what else you could do, you may want to consider some career coaching. Get in touch with Careers in Depth today and find out how we can help you find a path to job satisfaction.
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