Like many of you, I watched the Netflix series "Love is Blind" in a stupor. The show features new couples dating, sharing conversations, and eventually getting engaged, all without seeing their partner. The new couples meet face to face after their engagement, and then begin the work of navigating family expectations, personal values, physical intimacy, and wedding planning (some are more successful than others... no spoilers here!). The premise made me think of how sometimes we can fall in love with a career goal, sight unseen, with similarly mixed results!
As a career counselor, I sometimes hear my clients express strongly held beliefs about certain careers - sometimes without proof or evidence. These unshakable beliefs are often called "cherished assumptions." Examples I have heard include "I'll only be happy if I can go to medical school," "I'll never make any money in human services," and "If I could just get that promotion to VP, things would be so much better." These assumptions can be a powerful force in our career goals and action steps, and may lead us to not give enough consideration to all of our options. Similarly to our "Love is Blind" couples, making a big life decision with limited information can lead to less than satisfactory results!
How can you tell if your career goal is a reasoned, well-considered goal or driven my a cherished assumption? Here are three steps to check your assumptions:
1) Examine your thoughts. Reflect on your thoughts and feelings about a certain career choice. Where did those thoughts come from? Advice you received? Influential people in your life? Culture and media? Intuition or "gut" feeling? Get to know the origins of your thoughts and whether you need to fill in any information gaps.
2) Question. Become relentlessly curious about your career goal, with an open mind and without defensiveness. Seek out others with direct experience, and be willing to consider both positive and negative feedback you receive. Become comfortable with various experiences and opinions, not just the ones that are congruent with your current thoughts.
3) Gather evidence. There is no shortage of reliable, trustworthy resources to learn about career options, including checking out occupational profiles from Bureau of Labor Statistics, watching videos on Career Onestop, engaging with professional associations, and reading reviews of employers on Glassdoor and Vault. Use these tools to review not just careers of interest, but other relevant careers that you may not have previously considered.
Whether you chose to proceed along your original path or change your goal, by following these steps, you'll take your next step empowered with new information and avoid going into a career sight unseen. Love may be blind for reality TV couples, but career changers and job seekers should check their assumptions at the door!