In both coaching and psychotherapy I am always fascinated by the reasons people choose certain career paths or lines of work. It is also interesting to see how career paths develop and change because of personal choices and how people’s personalities interact within organisations and changes in the job market.
These explorations can be vital to our personal fulfilment and sense of satisfaction, after all most of us spend a significant amount of our lives in work.
For instance, a surgeon may have chosen to go into medicine because this was what was expected of them. However, on further exploration it turns out that the demands of being a medical doctor in a public hospital, combined with the repeated reward of saving lives and a certain clinical detachment are very all significant factors in further exploring this choice of career.
Working hours and shift patterns, type of work, setting and level of responsibility, employment status (self-employed, employed, or unemployed), relationship to work, etc can generally be traced back to the weight of status and education in the family, sibling hierarchy, types of relationship, life-changing or traumatic events, gender and sexuality, level of family support, parent’s line of work, and family expectations, just to name a few.
There are other environmental and biological factors as well such as migration, displacement, political and societal influences, personality traits, life circumstances and opportunities, etc.
The role of psychotherapy and coaching can be helpful and exploring one’s motivations and drivers for following a career path, realising when that path no longer suits or making necessary changes to one’s work life. For instance, gaining more self-confidence to take more risks or becoming more aware of one’s personal desires and wishes, rather than following the path that was expected by others.
I see this as a maturing process, a way of becoming more in touch with oneself and making choices that are more in line with who one is rather than being restricted by self-limiting beliefs. To live according to our beliefs and values is a great thing to do, if we know what they are in the first place.
Sam Jahara is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist, Superviser and Tavistock Certified Executive Coach.
Further reading by Sam Jahara –