Listening to people talk about their careers today reminds me of that Sally Struthers commercial from the 90’s… A listing of career choices thats so long and so varying that people seem almost lost as to what to do next.

With the developing world retiring so many automatable professions of the past and inventing so many new possibilities for earning in the future, its easy to get swept up in the “stuckness epidemic” successfully paralyzing us using the weapon of overwhelming choice. Believing that the answers we seek have got to be somewhere on the internet…  Career satisfaction is possible – we just need to update our perspectives.

Hundreds of thousands of people change jobs several times a year. Millions more are looking while working, constantly ready to move on for something better. Yet we still ask children what they want to be when they grow up as though we expect them to have one specific answer – one career, when the average adult today has 11.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 46.

We should start asking children what they want to be first, so that they grow with the expectation of change and adventure and look at maneuvering through careers as progress, not as the fault of bad choices.

In the midst of all this transiency, every leader is looking for the best people to put on their team, and in today’s opportunity filled world there are leaders and recruiters everywhere.

Everything that can be analyzed, routinized, systemized and codified will eventually be done by machines. Investing in social skills and emotional intelligence, developing people skills and understanding, and providing people solutions is our unique and valuable offering that can’t be automated… yet.

Millions of dollars get spent on recruiting, training and retention, yet these issues persist to be the largest areas of challenge that business’ face today. This challenge is not just a company challenge, it is a people challenge.

For most (if not all of us) we have an abusive relationship with our careers – just due to the natural process of what happens when we grow up.

Progress, progress, progress, promotions, recognition, happiness, more progress, a raise, gained confidence, some success, big expectations for the future, everyone applauds us… until it stops… and we feel loss. Then we imagine we should change jobs or change careers or change everything and doubt ourselves, our choices, our lives, our futures and we get stuck.

We quit jobs because we don’t get enough recognition when the truth is that virtually no job or career can stand up to that type of pressure to keep feeding our egos and needs past the point of growth into adultland….

Our expectations are the problem. Until we recognize that, we can keep job hopping and blaming industries with no hope for changing the future, or we can choose a different way.

To invest in making ourselves happier, to take the pressure off of our careers as the exclusive delivery vehicle for our sense of worth or fulfilment and to actually spend some time learning how to influence our happiness is our responsibility alone.

There are seasons when career advancement takes the reigns yes, but there are also seasons when career advancement does not. We must activate other influencers of happiness in our lives or forever be at the mercy of this one thing, that we do not control.

We didn’t do it wrong. We just grew up in a world that expected us to have the same career our whole lives and for that career to fulfill us. The world has changed – our perspective should too.

This issue must be looked at from both sides. Companies do need to invest in leadership development, employee incentive programs and evolving the workplace to engage their employees in an honest and rewarding way – AND, we need to recognize that finding fulfilment is going to come from living a balanced and fulfilled life.

What does that mean for you? It’s your job to figure that out.