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21 March 2013updated 11 Sep 2021 9:22am

“Most people don’t put much thought into chosing a career.”

Matthew Jennings, author of The Career Bible, explains why this is ridiculous.

By Matthew Jennings

Finding your dream career is a lot of bother. 84 per cent of people are dissatisfied with their choice of career (CBS News 2012). That figure is ridiculous. It was ridiculous when it was 80 per cent in 2010 (Deloitte) and ridiculous when it was 41 per cent in 2005 (Wall Street Journal). Do you know that most people spend 50,000 hours of their lives at work? That is a lot of hours. I find that most people don’t put an enormous amount of thought or effort into choosing their careers.

“Why are you a quantity surveyor?”

“I had a summer job when I was 16 – with a friend of my dad’s – and sort of fell into it from there.”

I took more trouble choosing a breadmaker… To really be happy at work, your career choice needs to match your values. If you are driven by “spirituality, creativity, wisdom, generosity and compassion” you are unlikely to be happy in banking. If your deep drivers are “ambition, wealth, success, respect and leadership’” you probably shouldn’t be a social worker. Simplistic, I know, but true.

The other thing that astounds me is that when people do know what they want to do, when they know exactly what their passion is, they don’t know how to achieve it. They can’t write a decent C.V, or find a job that isn’t being advertised. They don’t know how to prepare for and perform at interview.

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I have seen the “perfect” candidate fail to get their dream job so many times, because at some point during the recruitment process they cocked up.

It is easy to fix job hunting skills and tools. If someone is prepared to put the hours in, it’s quite simple to move through the recruitment steps successfully. The hard bit is identifying your passion and being honest with yourself about what you want – and what you are prepared to give up to get it . If you really want to be head of a global company you will be unlikely to be at your child’s sports day or the nativity play or anything outside of work (at least until you are at the top). If you want to be a musician you will be lucky to also live in a big, fancy house.

I spent some time looking at what makes top sportspeople different to us. It boils down to the ability to focus and a driving ambition to succeed. They put the extra hours in, sacrifice loads of things and will push on when everything looks to have gone wrong. The reason they do this is that they have found their passion and know that nothing else will do. They don’t see it as work. They love it.

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Power to the people

In order to succeed in finding our dream careers we need to put the same effort in as professional sports people. We need to find our passion and then get a job/ career in that industry. For 50,000 hours spent at work, I think it’s worth it, This isn’t a new way of thinking.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Confucius (551 – 479 BC)

The Career Bible is written by Matthew Jennings and Shaun Van Wyk and combines in depth career coaching skills, recruitment know how, top level sports psychology and experience in climbing the corporate ladder. The Career Bible is available at all good bookstores. More details at www.thecareerbible.com