Empowerment, Following Your Dreams, Inspiration for Change, success Starting Out – Should You Pursue What You Love Even If It’s Much Harder To Get? Written by: Kathy Caprino

I received a question on my Forbes blog Career Bliss today that struck a real chord with me, and I wanted to share it with you.  The question was in response to my post 5 Ways To Tell If You Need Career A Change.

Kiran asks:

Hi Kathy. Thank you so much for the article. What about people who are starting their career? I had decided to make my career in mechanical design and R&D. The opportunities however are far fewer in this field. Where as opportunities are more in, say, the field of supply chain, production, maintenance, marketing. I twice got selected for technical marketing but decided not to join. What should an individual do when starting off? What to do when lot of opportunities knock on door but not from the field one is looking for. Should a fresher accept these opportunities and think about career change afterward OR should he wait no matter how much time is required?

Here was my response:

Hi Kiran – Thanks for your great question. I can’t advise you directly without knowing more about your situation (for that we’d need a coaching session), but I’d offer this. To me, your question is a bit like when a child comes to his mother and asks, “Mom, I really adore soccer and that’s what I want to play next year, but there are only a few spots on the team. Should I do what I can to get on the soccer team, or just go out for basketball which is easy to get on?”

What I’m getting at here is this – I’ve found that people are a thousand times happier, more fulfilled and successful when they’re doing work they love, generating outcomes they care deeply about, using their natural talents and gifts, and not sacrificing their spirits and souls for “security.”

Here are some questions to ponder:
1) Are there steps you can take now that plant the seeds for growing more desirable and in demand in the highly competitive field you love?
2) If you take another path, and years later wake up to the fact that the industry has changed and there ARE positions in the field you originally wanted, will you have regrets about going down this other path?
3) Can you gain employment now that pays the bills but ALSO prepares you well for the work you really want to do?
4) Finally, are you sure that mechanical design and R&D ARE what you want? How do you know, exactly? Did you “try on” this direction thoroughly to know that this is professional identity you want?

In the end, career change can be much harder than starting off doing what you want and planting the seeds for that all along the way. As I career changer myself, I know this to be true. I’d recommend figuring out what you want NOW (this survey will help you do that) and going for it with all you’ve got.


I’m working on my second book right now, and in it, I’m discussing the critical steps we need to take if we want to build happy, rewarding and successful careers that buoy us through the hard times in life.

An important thing to realize is that you will probably dedicate more hours to working than to anything else in your entire life.  Knowing that, do you want to settle, right out of the gate? Do you want to sacrifice your spirit, your natural talents and gifts and feeling enlivened every day, for what you think will bring you “security?”

The sad reality that I’ve seen in my own life and with thousands of other midlife career professionals is that they have gone the route of sacrificing joy, fulfillment and excitement in their work, only to wake up years later to find that the unsatisfying work they settled work was stripped away from them due to the recession.  I’ve seen that they only thing that is secure in your life is YOU – your spirit, heart, your talents, and gifts, and passions, your unique perspective. Pushing past your comfort zone and going for what you care about deeply is what keeps you stretching, growing and thriving. (Here’s more about how moving out of your comfort zone is critical to your success and happiness.)

My advice is to go with what you care most about, even if it’s much harder.  Pursuing work that makes you feel alive, valuable and of use is a life-changing experience that generates many rewards.  That said, you must take the right steps to remain employable and marketable, and to be highly valued in the workforce. It’s not enough to pursue your passion without doing what’s required to be great at your work, and to contribute in meaningful ways in your field.

But once you do that, you’ll have married up two of the most important ingredients of a life well-lived – joyfully giving of yourself and your amazing talents every day in the world, and nurturing and supporting yourself and your loved ones in ways that make you proud and happy.

Are you facing an important decision between pursuing work you love and doing what you think is the “secure” thing? What will you do?

(To build a happier, more rewarding career, visit kathycaprino.com and The Amazing Career Project.)

9 thoughts on “Starting Out – Should You Pursue What You Love Even If It’s Much Harder To Get?”

  1. Thanks so much, Diane, for your feedback. I’m glad the article resonated, and so happy to hear that you’ve found the “trying on” phase helpful to you as well. You’re right – we have to carve out time for honoring our passions and pursuing more career fulfillment (whether that’s true career change or another direction.) Time won’t just fall in our laps, and there’s never a “perfect” time, but there is a RIGHT time, and that time is now. Thanks again.

  2. Hey Zara – Thanks for sharing. Sounds like it’s a sign, yes? Time to plan your next act, and make it exactly as you want it. All best!

  3. Kathy, Terrific piece. I have met many young people who have their hearts set on their “passion” careers but often that’s a job they have never really done…or lived yet. It’s so important to talk to people who are living your ‘dream life’ and ask them the basics of ‘What is a typical day like?’ What’s your biggest joy…and worst disappointment?” “Is this something you could have grown into at a later age or is it key to start as a ‘fresher’ (as your writer said)?” All this helps us try our jobs on, as you wisely recommend. I learned that my passions changed over my career and I have fallen in and out of love with my work, only to find my favorite career (so far!) later in life. I feel that the skills I picked up in different careers along the way are making it possible to accelerate success in my ‘passion field’ now. Thanks for your great advice! Mary Lou

  4. Thanks so much for your tips and suggestions, Mary Lou. You’re right on there – many folks project their beliefs and (misguided) assumptions onto a new career direction thinking it will be the panacea for all their ills, but when they land in the job or career, it’s not at all what they dreamed of. That’s why “trying it on” in many ways is essential. My video on how to avoid “The Pendulum Effect” talks about that! I resonate closely too with your comment that everything you’ve ever done in prior careers is being put to great use now, in your new, “passion” career. This is how it works – NOTHING is ever wasted. The happiest careers marry up all that we are and have been, and love. Thanks so much, and so happy your new career is bliss!

  5. Hi Zviko – Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your story. So glad to hear that you made the leap to study what you love. That takes courage and commitment. All best wishes to you upon graduation. Keep us posted!

  6. Dear Kathy and community,
    From across the waters (Denmark) – in line with Kathy’s great 5 steps: Step Back, Let go, Say yes, Explore and Create – my experience is, that the real breakthrough lies in letting go. The reason many of us are at all in doubt about our carreer paths is hidden in what we have to let go of. Sometimes what we have to let go of is not visible to ourselves and that is where it is important to seek and get the right help.
    May I supplement the 5 steps by asking you: What is your daily practice? and how does that practice contribute to your life? If you haven’t got a daily practice, consider to commit yourself to a daily practice that in some way contibute positively to your joyfull living. QiGong, my daily ½ hour practice, secures my energy flow and a healthy relation to my body, mind and spirit. Essiential for journeys of exploration of carreer paths. Happy exploration for everyone, Anne

  7. Thanks for your input, Anne. I love your suggestion – of a daily practice that enlivens and enriches your body, mind and spirit. I’d love to add that a daily practice of access more happiness in your life can also be a life-changer. Often, we think that our happiness level is out of control and that we can’t shape it. Research tells us the opposite, and there are simple steps to open your pathway to more happiness. Here’s more about daily practices that can do that. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hi Kathy and community of dreamers and doers,

    I am grateful for all of the articles that you put out into the cyber universe, Kathy. I am beginning to live my passion but I have discovered that every thing I have done to date has been preparation for what I do now. I have also learned that sometimes your passion finds you. When you consistently seek to know what it is and how to find it. Your words are always so timely….Thank you Kathy!

  9. Hi Alicia – Thanks so much for writing. I agree 100% – so often, your passion finds you, and grabs you by the collar and won’t let go. That happened to me – a passion for and commitment to getting to the bottom of women’s unhappiness and disempowerment in their professional lives and careers, and coming up with real-life solutions that help. People has asked me, “How can I find my calling?” I think that a calling finds you, but you need to very open, flexible and expansive in your thinking so that passion knocks, you open the door to it. Thanks so much!

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