Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

All our lives we search high and low for what we consider to be a good job or career, and the ability to balance what we love to do at work with what we love outside of it. But, as Larry Smith notes in his TED Talk “Why You Will Fail to have a Great Career,” we are all going to do just that: fail.   Why? As Smith notes, it’s because good jobs are disappearing and are being replaced with high-stress, high-anxiety, work-obsessed careers – the kind of soul-sucking jobs that leave little to no room for pursuing your greatest interests and passions.

Unfortunately, these types of jobs are taking over, and there is no happy medium.   So, why are you going to fail to attain your dream job? The one that gives you hope and allows you to spread your wings like the high-flying, go-getting butterfly you know you can be? Excuses, excuses. You’re using your creativity in a self-sabotaging way by constructing excuses for not taking the necessary steps towards having a great career.

A short list of some of these excuses might help you better understand how you are impairing your own ability to take those steps and have a great career.

Excuse 1: Good jobs and careers, for the greater majority, are happened upon by luck. There’s no need to try because I’ll get lucky by standing around and waiting for a good career to fall into my lap. But, as Smith points out, “A good career is an impossibility, so that’s not going to work.”

Excuse 2: I don’t have a quirky niche to obsess over, and people with great careers have strong passions to consume them. If I’m too “normal,” I can’t have a desirable career.   Quirkiness goes hand in hand with being a genius. Geniuses are of a “weird” type, so if you’re not a genius, you will always fail to have a great career.

Excuse 3: Mommy and Daddy told me that if I work hard enough, I will succeed in having a great career. So, even though I’m unwilling to be lucky or change my entire personality, I will still have a shot! I’ll tell myself that I will work extremely hard, and end up living the life.

You know what? If you do want to work as hard as you possibly can, the world will give you that opportunity. Well, you know what else? You will still fail. Because having the opportunity to work REALLY hard has no bearing on having a great career.

Hard work with little payoff: the idea of the American Dream. Trying to obtain it is as realistic as having a great career. You can live to work, but if you’re not working to live you will never find satisfaction. Here is the dilemma that causes the excuses. The desire to have a great career while having the ability to balance it with the rest of your life.

The part of your life where the excuses come from, the part that tells you that because you value human relationships so much, you couldn’t possibly pull yourself away from them to go after the career you want.   But you tell yourself, despite all of the excuses, you have interests!   Sure, you have plenty of them.

Great, you’ve found one that you like more than the others. But is that enough to get you off the ground and into that great career of which you’ve been dreaming? The one you’re so interested in pursuing? No, because having an interest in something doesn’t compare to the passion you need to obtain the job that will sustain that interest. Passion, as Smith notes, is your greatest love. The love for the one interest that surpasses all others.

The one that engages you and inspires you to actually, finally, stop making excuses as to why you will fail to have a good job.   The reason you will never have a good job is because you’ve settled for the excuses you’ve made to stop you from reaching your goals. You’ve settled for having an interest rather than pursuing a passion. And, for those lucky ones who have found their passion and thought about running with it, guess what? You will still fail to have a great career.

You will fail because you will have come up with yet another excuse to deny yourself that great job you so desperately crave. All because you’ve let yourself fall into the trap of “unless.” The trap that triggers the fear of pursuing your passion, of trying and failing. You could have had a great career, if only you had stopped making excuses and pursued your passions. But you didn’t, and you won’t. Unless there is no “unless,” you will always fail to have a great career.