In Pursuit Of Happiness

One of the things I think some people take for granted is the freedom with which we can make change to our work lives in this country. If you’re not happy on the job, feel you could be making more money, or have more control over the work, you are free to leave your job and look for another.  If the type of work you’ve been doing no longer interests you, you are free to pursue other avenues of employment totally unrelated to your previous endeavors.  This freedom to find fulfillment from our work, is one of those things we do in the pursuit of happiness.
In the pursuit of that happiness, there will certainly be obstacles when making these dramatic kinds of life changes.  Leaving the security of a job, one that you already know how to do – even if you’re not always comfortable doing it – is quite daunting.  Perhaps you’ll have no regular income while you go after a new vocation.  It may be necessary for you to qualify for new certifications, take classes or build new skills before embarking on a different employment objective. Or maybe you will just dive in and try something totally new with a positive can-do attitude and little concern for the hurdles that need to be overcome.  These are choices we can freely make.
But in my travels and networking over the years, I’ve learned to appreciate how lucky we are in these United States to be able to pursue our dream jobs, or to change the work we choose to do.  In many other countries, a lifelong commitment to a single profession is the norm.  Whereas in this country, it is likely that we will change careers at least 5 times or more in the course of our working lives.  Hopefully, those changes will be by personal choice, not imposition!
It is sad to think about it, actually, that in other parts of the world there is a lack of objectivity or acceptance that an individual might want to go after a new career, or that one can successfully reapply existing skills to new and different work environments.  Yet in many countries you are encouraged and expected to follow a singular career path for your entire life, and attempts to make a substantial change in vocational direction are met with disdain, disrespect and harsh criticism.
During the course of hiring here in the U.S., employers routinely look deeply at applicants’ work histories to determine if a candidate is a proper fit.  Human resources professionals will often look broadly at the diversity of an applicant’s background and experience to aid in their analysis of a candidate’s suitability to a particular position.  And career development professionals and other vocational advisors stress the importance that applicants convey their most relevant attributes to the needs of the positions they apply for, regardless of what they’ve done in the past.  Just because the last job didn’t have the same title as the new job, doesn’t mean the applicant doesn’t have the necessary or relevant and transferable skills needed for success.
That freedom to pursue the vocational objective of one’s choice is one of the primary reasons many workers come to the U.S. from other countries.  I’ve encountered many folks who were no longer interested in continuing the old path laid out for them in the land of their birth, who came to the States, and vigorously chased after new career opportunities and professional interests that would have been discouraged had they stayed put.  These intrepid souls faced many of the same impediments as those who were born here, and many additional ones, yet they persevered in their pursuit of that American dream of happiness.
On these shores we all have the right to pursue our dreams for work and life in general. It’s not easy!  For anyone!  Yet, if we make smart decisions that take into consideration the challenges we’ll face, do the research and planning that needs to be done, and ask for help with the tasks we can’t do alone, we stand a pretty good chance of success.  And whatever your definition of success, the Pursuit of Happiness is available to all, it just takes a lot of work to get it.
For more tips, ideas and opinions on job search, interviewing, networking and other career development topics, please search this blog and visit: