Life / Can Do

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You Can Do Anything … Or Can You?

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The other day my wife and I watched an episode of Saturday Night Live which had a skit that was a hilarious take on a topic that had been on my mind lately – unrealistic self expectations. See the skit at: You Can Do Anything

This current generation was raised in a culture that promoted that idea that a person could be or do anything they wanted to be as long as they believed in themselves. We’ve all been told to do what we love. Whether you like philosophy, basket weaving or Victorian glove making then you should have a career that lets you do that. There’s a problem with that line of advice and college graduates soon find themselves with no marketable skills.

In the computer programming field I’ve worked with people who had once aspired to be something else. Below is a short list of broken dreams I’ve heard:

musician, elementary school teacher, physicist, librarian, guidance counselor, music therapist, poet, park ranger, video game designer, artist

Now these are all viable careers to some extent but each of them required a level of sacrifice that the dreamers were not willing to make. At some point the need to earn a living overrides the be-anything-you-want-to-be attitude. If they really and truly wanted to have these jobs, they wouldn’t be working 9 to 5 in a corporate office.

I’ve wanted to be a computer programmer since high school so I lucked out. I am doing what I love and getting paid well for it. There were times when I considered alternate paths. For a few years I wanted to be martial arts instructor and later a fiction writer. Fortunately, I had something practical to fall back on as I soon learned the odds of making a good living from those careers were slim to none.

When my nephew was first contemplating what major to take in college this is the advice I gave him- “You can be anything you want to be … once you are able to support yourself and pay for your dream job.” He majored in business, graduated and is now doing very well for himself. He is still young and now he has the financial stability to consider other careers if he decides to do so. As it stands now, he is very happy doing what he does.

Rather than “Doing What you Love”, we should strive to love what we do. My wife has a job where she has to do deal with finances for a medium sized company. I guess she’s like an accountant or something, I don’t get it. I remember when she chose to switch jobs to do this. There was no financial incentive for her to do so as her previous job paid well and had potential for even greater opportunities. But she saw an opportunity to do something that she enjoyed while still contributing to the household.

I guess my wife and I were too poor when we entered the business world to afford to “do what we love”. We had to settle for doing whatever put food on the table and kept the lights on. Now years later, with the financial stability we’ve work hard for, we are very happy and fulfilled doing what we do.

Any career can be rewarding if you put your heart and soul into it.

As a disclaimer I will admit that I am only talking from my experience and observations. I accept that I could be wrong and would be open to hearing opinions to the contrary. As I’ve said in the beginning this is a topic I’ve only started to contemplate. I had yet to find any worthwhile references that would support my observations.

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Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

January 26, 2012 at 9:07 pm

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