There are lots of people who wanted to do one thing but then got "practical" and did something else "first." The idea was that they'd be successful and sock away money doing the practical thing, and after that they could go back to the thing they loved.

Po Bronson's book, "What Should I Do With My Life?" contains 50 profiles of people searching for "their soft spot--their true calling." Bronson was sure that, among the hundreds of people that he interviewed, someone would actually have been successful with this strategy. It sounds so reasonable, after all.

But he encountered exactly zero people who pulled it off. Everyone who tried got sucked into the "practical" career and were never able to extract themselves from it. Too comfortable, too many expectations from friends and family, too easy just to keep doing what you're doing.

What do you think? Is it possible to transition from a career that is perhaps not your first choice to one that is? Have you or someone you know accomplished it? Or is a transition to another career even necessary to achieve happiness and fulfillment?


asked 06 Dec '09, 05:17

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 06 Dec '09, 05:46

Beloved, I for one have been able to achieve the transition. I got an MBA, was fluent in at least 5 major languages and had been offered glamorous (by society's standard) jobs. I held a position for a while at one of our embassies.......... The thing is, I felt empty on the inside. All that so-called glamour, was like eating cardboard. On the other hand when I'd go to pick up my little ones from pre-school, my heart would soar and sing. So, I became a stay at home mom and yes it was financially tough and my husband took it out on me in every way possible (he comes from a long line of working moms and had no respect for a non-earning one) but it didn't matter to me for I realized my true calling is building my family and caring for my own children (we have four.)

There came a time when my husband was out of a job and we hardly had enough money to cover the rent! Even then I didn't give up, I thought to myself, I am doing what I am supposed to do, I am the glue of this family, I give my worries to God to handle them for they are beyond me, even if we turn homeless my family will stick together. A week later, my husband got a job that paid a salary that put us in the top 10% range of earners.

As you see, follow your heart, you'll be challenged, but you have to stick to what you believe is your path.Don't fear, just trust and believe me it'll happen........thanks and blessings, Namaste


answered 08 Sep '10, 15:56

daniele's gravatar image


Good for you Daniele - Great that it all worked out so well for you:)

(08 Sep '10, 17:08) Michaela

@daniele: my only issue with this is that you had to rely on your husbands "practical" job.

(08 Sep '10, 17:13) Back2Basics

Back2Basics you may be surprised to find out that this made my marriage stronger and brought our family closer together. A couple work as a unit, we complement each other. My husband is able to be the successful man he is because he is made to feel 8feet tall and lives up to it. It is the love and faith of a woman behind the man that is the "practical" job.Thanks, namste

(10 Sep '10, 13:46) daniele
showing 2 of 3 show 1 more comments

Could it be that we put so much pressure on ourselves in measuring anything with a finite quantity of measure that either corresponds to the idea "this is right" or "this is wrong". Meanwhile, what happened to all the grey area in between?

In other words, the phenomenon of "the grass is greener on the other side" could be part of the factor of the the feeling "I should be doing something else". But more than this, there is the idea of learning from contrast; that is, the motivation that awakens from dis-harmony. For example, "do you remember learning something by doing it right the first time?".

we learn nothing when no mistakes are made. the strongest memories & often the strongest lessons are from the greatest & embarrassing disasters we go through. isn't it so?

So We learn Much more from a life where we start at a place where we don't want to be. and spend a lifetime getting to where we want to be while constantly overcoming circumstances that seem to push us away from our intended goal.

It's like a sailing trip where the wind is constantly blowing you off course, and if you do noting you will end up not where you want to go and that becomes a lesson. or you can constantly steer against the effects of the wind & you end up where you wanted to go & become a better sailor in the process, which is another lesson. Now which of these lessons is the correct one? it's Neither.


answered 06 Dec '09, 22:05

The%20Traveller's gravatar image

The Traveller

edited 07 Dec '09, 00:02

Interesting point. Reminds me of the person who prayed for patience, so God gave him life circumstances that would exercise his patience.

(06 Dec '09, 22:16) Vesuvius

Great answer! I think that's why our life seemingly goes into turmoil when we begin a spiritual journey - God is presenting us with the opportunities to learn from mistakes that we didn't get the first time around.

(07 Dec '09, 13:03) Michaela

Ideally, we should follow our heart's desires, and this includes using our desires to guide us in what we would like to do. However, we are usually derailed from pursuing these desires because of limiting beliefs about how the world works and what its definition of success is.

So let's say someone loves painting. Unfortunately, growing up, he is always told that it doesn't make money, until the artist dies. And that making ends meet by earning money "practically" is the number one priority or else one would die of starvation or have to sleep in the streets. Hence, he goes and gets a "practical" job somewhere and shelves his hobby for a better day, which may only come in retirement. :D

A lot of this happens because of societal pressures, personal obligations, fear of failure and societal beliefs as a whole about the way things work. That is why many people (me included) do not have such an easy time getting rid of limiting beliefs and trusting the Universe / God enough to provide for us. It takes a lot of courage to step out of the "comfort zone", which ironically is actually a prison of beliefs. :D


answered 07 Dec '09, 01:34

Pat%20W's gravatar image

Pat W

I have a sneaking suspicion from some of your posts that you maybe have a secret yearning to do something different. I know by your posts that you have a very scientific, intellectual mind - maybe your creative child wants to come out and play.

In most cases we let our environment and conditioned upbringing determine what we do in life but when we begin to wake up to who we are, we sometimes become aware that where we are at and what we're doing might not necessarily be what we want. I don't think it is ever too late to transition from one career to another if you really want it - so the key question would be " how badly do you want it?"

If you are not happy doing what you're currently doing then I definitely think you should take steps toward a transition but remember happiness and fulfillment may not necessarily be found in another career as they come from within and are already there. However they may be easier to access if you're doing something you love.


answered 07 Dec '09, 13:18

Michaela's gravatar image


edited 07 Dec '09, 23:54

Vesuvius's gravatar image


Thank you for your thoughts. I very much enjoy what I do for a living, but there are times... My wife says that when I come home I should do something completely different from what I do at work.

(07 Dec '09, 23:53) Vesuvius

You're welcome, I think we all need to break out and do something completely different at times - your wife sounds like a wise woman.

(08 Dec '09, 01:44) Michaela

I think you are asking are there people out there you went after what they loved to do and what made them happy instead of what they had and needed to do to pay the bills and do what the family needs and so therefore put their own needs, wants, and desire on the back burner for practicability.

I would guess and say yes a few have. But mostly most came to the conclusion that they needed to pay the bills first and than later on they would do what they really like. I think a few had that bull dog of I love taking pictures of wild animals and their habitate and I am going to find a way to do it and pay the bills too. But the hard part if that person had a family also you don't want to drag your partner into you dream that might be so far what your partner wanted to do and the children unless this was their dream as well.

So I think it depends on where you are now in your life financially, and family wise and do you really know what you really want to do and what really makes you happy and are you willing to risk it all to achieve it. Maybe using your family in the process and maybe the shirt off of your back as well.

Yeah, some have and some haven't and sometimes a divorce, or a death has cause people to take a re-look at their lives and try to really live what makes them happy a dream they had once lost and forgot about it and something drastic made them think of it once again and this time they are going to do it for life is too short to not enjoy each day even if you live to be 250 years old there is so much to learn and enjoy.

Sometimes an midlife crisis causes them to stop and really take a look at the fact that they might not be happy with what they are doing now.

Some people hold on to that goal from the begining and don't lose focus on it but have to take detours around it for a while.


answered 07 Dec '09, 08:23

flowingwater's gravatar image


Absolutely, why not? Everyone is doing multi-tasking these day. You have to have vision, and some goals, and a plan of actions, as to how you preceived you will accomplish these goals. Seems like a tall order but anything is possible in life, if you are passionate about what you want to do! If you have goals then it is most important that you work towards your goals, and do not loose sight of your goals. You have to stay focused. It is also imperitive that you take action, and do the leg work to get the job done. Of course you will have to use will power, and self determination to stay focused.

You should also prepare yourself for the challenges that lies ahead of you, but the fact is you have to get started to get finished. Life could be a win, win, if you know how to discipline yourself to achieve your goals. There is a saying: a thousand miles starts with just one step. You have to make sacrifices, you have to loose to gain, unless of course you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth.

I once knew someone who wanted to go back to school to complete her high education, and to go to college. Of course, there were a lot of questions that this person had to sort out, about her responsibility, commitment, and her insecurity about continuing her education and being successful in a college program. Well, with lots of help, support, and encouragement she made her decision. She applied herself to her upgrading, and was later accepted into college with 3.01 grade point average, even before she was finished her high school up grading courses.

She was happy about been accepted into college, but she was also afraid of the challenges that lies ahead of her in a college program. Yes, she went through all the emotional baggages, such as questioning her ability to measure up to the challenges of being a college student. But this was something she wanted to do, and she had to find a way to do it, and succeed. Days ran into months, and months ran into years. Finally, she was finished her college courses, and she was on the Dean’s High Honors List with straight A’s and four A’s with distinctions. It was an unbelieveable accomplishment beyond her wildness dream. Finally, she was a college graduate, with a High Honors Degree. What else could she ask for, it was a done deal. But the truth of the matter is she stayed focused, and she finished it beyond her wildest dream.

Although, she was now certified in one field of work, she ended up working in another field of work, which proved to be benifical to her at the time; and she went on to yet another worthy position as manger, and case manger. After many years of being in charge, she became very resourceful in applying herself to other areas of work in her professional field. She has since ventured out into new avenues, and has thus established herself as a professional woman. Basically, the skies is the limit, and she is very conscious of what she can achieve now that the path was made clear to her. This is a real success story. It is a case of ask, and it shall be given unto you!

It has taken this person a period of over fifteen years to make these accomplishments in her life, and it is fifteen years she would not want to trade for anything else. It was worth her time, effort, and the many sacrifices she had to make. But it all paid off in the end, she has became a scholar, and a professional by doing something total out of her field of work; but at the same time making it work for her, while she does what she most enjoy by volunteering her professional services to others.

In my opinion, the people who are successful doing what they want to do by doing something else, are the people who can take the Bull by it’s horn, and run with it. Who does not get discouraged by the daily challenges of life, and can stay focused. You have to be prepared to do what you have to do, inorder to find your own path in life, and make it work for you. You do not have to like what you do necessarily, but you should strive to accept the things you cannot change, and work with it to the best of you ability. And that is what real success is, making it work for you, not against you. Thus, the real magic formula for any kind of success lies within you, but you must know how to harness these gifts to make it work for you. One step at a time, believe you can, and you will!


answered 08 Dec '09, 07:16

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