Since I grew up before the digital era fully kicked in, I learned throughout school that a good career path is one that is linear and looks a little something like this: Choose an ideal job, then get qualified in it, then get an entry-level position, then get promoted and then retire.
I, like many others, believed that a career must follow an upward movement path, but what paths in life have ever gone straight up? Life takes many twists and turns, so isn’t it possible that our career paths can take similar fluid routes, too?
The technology boom that we’ve experienced in the 21st century has indeed made the traditional method of finding a career look limited and outdated. We now have so much more freedom to work from anywhere and with anyone, and technology makes it possible to create everything from a blogging empire to building a software development company if you wish. For so many of us, one critical thing has become clear: Work is not only about work. We are all looking for careers that fulfill us on a personal and professional level, enabling us to use our skills in areas we feel deeply passionate. That’s why today, I wanted to write about why it’s more than okay to have a fluid career path, even if you’re 10 or 20 years into working but still haven’t figured out what it is you want to do.
Retrain at Any Age
It’s a bit shocking to look back on it all, but there used to be so many barriers to people who wanted to change careers midway through and retrain in a different field. Age was one of the main factors that kept people working in jobs that didn’t fulfill them, even if those jobs didn’t offer much in promotion or progression. Luckily today, it’s possible to retrain at any age, allowing us to explore new opportunities in industries and fields that we may not have experienced during our education.
The late David Zurak (sadly, he passed away from brain cancer in 2017) was a dancer for the world-famous Martha Graham Dance Company, but he didn’t take his first dance class until the age of 23 — which isn’t far off retirement age for some classical dancers. Zurak didn’t even come from an artistic background, having majored in electrical engineering in university, but once he found what he wanted to do, nothing could prevent him from honing his talents and achieving his new career dream.
Being True to You
Fluid careers can be a much more honest and authentic representation of who you are as an individual, especially if you happen to try many different types of careers but still can’t find the one that clicks with you. Ramón Colillas’ story is one that is especially inspirational if you’re thinking about retraining or stuck wondering how to go about changing careers. In his 31 years on the planet, Colillas has been a professional footballer, an engineer and a personal trainer before finally discovering the career that he is most passionate: professional poker.
Playing cards professionally may not be the thing that ignites your imagination, but you can take comfort in the fact that there are thousands of people in the world like Colillas. If you’re one of them, see his story as encouragement to keep trying new things until you find the one that sticks.
No matter where you currently are in your life and career, even if you’re stepping back into the world of work after taking time out to be a parent or care for your family, it’s crucial to realize that you aren’t the only one out there experiencing a fluid career path. It takes a lot of courage to be able to step outside the norm and do something different or make a fresh start in a whole new line of work, but it’s a critical step to make that will only lead to a richer and more fulfilling life.