I've been running a series of Wednesday Mid Week At Work posts recently that are career oriented, rather than featuring a photo of some work in the past or the like. The last one was this one:
Lex Anteinternet: Mid Week At Work: So is that work what you expected?: Jerome Facher : I f I were you I'd make it a point in that lunch hour I'd find a place that's quiet and peaceful and I...
On this, one thing that occurs to me is that the constant happy thought that people can leap from one career to another is really common, to include some fields that require a massive investment of time, labor, and yes cash, to even get into. As I've noted before, law schools propagate this absurd myth regarding the career their young charges are studying for. That's complete baloney.
After I started this thread, the thought that the reason that this claim is made so often for lawyers may be because so many end up abandoning their careers for something else. It isn't that being a lawyer prepared them to be lawyers, its that desperation or disappointment after become a lawyer prepared them to make a pretty significant move. The post we recently posted on involved a lawyer in Anchorage Alaska who became a cloistered nun, less of a move, intellectually, than many might suspect. Indeed, the nature of being a cloistered nun, for people who entered the law as introspective, might frankly be closer to their original expectations than people outside the law might suppose.
Which leads me to this. Even if a career field isn't what people expected it to be when they were young, I suspect that most people who enter any one field and find long lasting work in it stay in it. Another factor is that even if it isn't what they initially expected they may become so acclimated to it that they are adapted by their work, rather than the other way around. A couple of examples, both from the same people, might illustrate that.
I had a partner who died in his early 80s who, when I was first practicing law, I went to Denver with for work. As we were driving towards the city we passed a large farm implement dealer and he commented on how his brother in law had farm implement dealerships and had tried to set him up in that, and that he always regretted not doing it. He stated that he wished he had and he though that he would have been happier as an implement dealer.
That was a bit of a shock to me at the time and highly awkward as well. Everyone always regarded this individual as the consummate lawyer, but he was telling me he'd rather have been an implement dealer. What do you say to a thing like that?
Well, whatever he thought on that he kept working until he died, in his 80s. What's that mean? He didn't need to, he just did.
In between, of course, he'd raised a family and the like. At some point, if he'd ever have been serious about being an implement dealer, the thought of moving and setting up a new endeavor made that impossible.
Another late partner of mine, who recently died in his 90s, told me that he wanted to be a doctor but World War Two had taken him out of school for years and when he came back he didn't feel he had the time to invest in that career, so he became a lawyer instead. Again, what do you do with that information? He was regarded as a fierce litigator and he worked in the office next to mine until he was in his 90s. He always seemed a pretty happy lawyer so things must have worked out okay. Be that as it may, he also told me how he'd been a city judge early and had thought about the judiciary but the amount it paid wasn't sufficient for his growing family, so he didn't do it.
My own father became a dentist. As I knew him as my father, a man with broad interests and a very active mind, I never really particularly associated him with his career. He was very loved by his patients and was very good at his profession, but I know that as he grew older (he died at age 62) he was looking forward towards retirement and was getting tired of it. He never spoke much about his career as a career, but later in his life he did express that he wished he'd stayed in the Air Force, where he first practiced, as he could have retired younger and have been spared the agony of office operation, which is indeed a much bigger endeavor than people imagine. Indeed, on that, I've heard quite a few people who had service time express regrets about not staying in as they could have taken advantage of the early retirement, which is interesting in that it expresses a career goal in terms of quitting it, rather than anything else. Anyhow, he had entered Dentistry much the same way that I entered the Law, in a roundabout fashion.
I'm not sure what the point of this entry on this running thread is, but I guess what it may be is that lots of careers, maybe most of them, aren't all that grand and glamorous to the people who do them, but they're done because at some point the people who do them have little other choice and they know how to do them. If that's correct, and I suspect it is, all that advice about "find something you love" and "you'll be a success if you love your work" may just be claptrap. There are likely a lot of highly skilled people who do really outstanding work everyday but who would have rather have been implement dealers.