It’s not always easy to know what vocation to choose. Sometimes it’s easier to choose by elimination. When you don’t know what you want, you often know what you don’t want. Here are three recommendations from Cal Newport’s book “So good, they can’t ignore you”
The job offers few opportunities to set yourself apart by developing relevant (rare and valuable) skills
Since professional life is a competition, it is important to have the keys to be able to stand out. A job, to be attractive according to Cal Newport, should provide the opportunity to develop rare and valuable skills that give you the opportunity to be recognized as an expert.
The problem is that there are a significant number of professions that are not based on real expertise, by which I mean a hard skill, but rather a network of knowledge or know-how. If of course these two aspects of a profession are not to be neglected, it can be perilous to base your strategy only on them while omitting the need to develop a real competence in the field that concerns you. If you don’t have something tangible to propose and develop, you expose yourself to two pitfalls. The first is to be at the mercy of those who dominate the profession and who of course arrived before you. The second is that you may not feel a sense of progression throughout your career, which can lead to disappointment. Job satisfaction is intimately linked to the mastery you have developed. It is the result of a conscious effort and the assimilation of knowledge that requires constant questioning. If your job is based on a form of rent (by transmission or succession), it is unlikely to bring you the satisfaction and happiness that one might expect. To be somewhat jubilant, a vocation must be associated with the idea of merit, itself conditioned by expertise and conscientious effort.
Useless or harmful depending on your values
There is nothing worse than doing work that is useless or even harmful to the world. This was clearly put forward by David Graeber in his book “Bullshit jobs”. The search for meaning is the main motivation of existence. If our work does not occupy the whole of our life, it nevertheless takes up a substantial part of it. If it is a third of our daily time, it is often more than half of our waking time. It therefore seems madness to dedicate oneself body and soul to an occupation that does not represent our values and even works to destroy what we believe to be precious. To choose a vocation, one must have a long-term vision, which implies working for a group, a company or one’s own business that respects certain moral principles. If you don’t make this choice at the beginning of your career, you will sooner or later, but the disillusionment could be great as you will have taken a path that will have taken you away from your initial aspirations. To make the right choice, you must give yourself time to reflect.
The various dimensions of the individual
An individual can be defined according to several successive layers of concepts. The most central concept is composed of your values and principles, what is most sacred in you. From this core emanate other more superficial concepts. In your mind, what defines you in the most intimate way is your knowledge, that is to say what you have retained from your experiences, you may have developed a certain wisdom from them. Then there are your skills and your knowledge.
When we are young, we are not always careful about the choices we make from a value point of view. What motivates most often is ambition or greed. The more experiences you accumulate, the more you increase your knowledge. This knowledge can be put into perspective with respect to a set of values. In essence, the older you get, the more opportunity you have to become sensitive to the moral significance of your choices. This is why it is better to have formalized your values at a young age because you can significantly shape your life trajectory.
A job that puts you in contact with people you despise or dislike
It is also not pleasant to work with people who are malicious or who do not share our values. Operating in a hostile work environment can lead to wearing a mask for much of the day. Beyond the unpleasantness of the situation, there is also the risk of gradually turning into someone you previously despised. Some jobs develop bad tendencies such as lying, hypocrisy or greed. These workplace habits can permeate a personality until they become second nature if left unchecked. Over time, one can suffer from repeated contact with toxic temperaments. This is why it is more than necessary to observe the types of people who make up a line of work. There are several ways to do this. The first would be to ask for advice from people around you, ideally from people who have been in close contact with this world. Immersing yourself in the field via an internship, for example, could be an option, but it implies that you are already committed to a career, which you want to avoid if you want to change direction later on. Another relevant option would be to present yourself as a potential client or visitor when possible. This would give you a first impression of the type of people who work there, which is always a good way to learn.