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Thread: Choosing One's Path in Life

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    Default Choosing One's Path in Life

    I feel like in life we are often forced with the idea that we need to follow the standard procedure like everyone else that to succeed and enjoy life we must finish high school, get a post-secondary education and a standard job. Work our way up to a promotion until we reach a secure future, etc... This idea is pounded into our brains when we are children and when we are teenagers because our minds are soft and susceptible to manipulation. I'm not saying that this is bad for everyone as this standard route is good for a certain group of people because it suits their mindset, learning style, etc... However, I think for a good amount of other people, it's a terrible way to live life and they should simply find another way to achieve success, but most importantly find meaning and happiness in their lives. This video illustrates this concept well:





    Then the question remains on how one achieves such a goal. We still need to make a living regardless and chasing idealistic dreams is highly risky, though could turn out to work out for a lucky determined few. Should one seek out their dream goal regardless of the risks involved? Perhaps, having a backup plan that is more modest while chasing one's true goals is a safe yet desirable option. Then there is the option that is championed by many, but only achieved by few to attain a career that is in demand and pays well. Those who seek to achieve that societal goal that are not suitable for it end up in major disappointment at one point or another and those that do achieve it find out sooner or later that money is attained at the cost of time. The truth is we all end up going through the maze of life that society has made for us and we end up in random spots in adulthood based on our circumstances and the decisions we make when we're young and naive. This other, but similar concept is illustrated in this video:





    Anyways, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this issue based on your own experiences through the game of life.
    Last edited by Raver; 08-06-2013 at 10:40 PM. Reason: typo
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    Well first of all I am not 100% sure that this concept is pounded into everyone's brain - I'm sure there are people whose parents are kind of scatterbrained and have strange jobs or own a shop or don't necessarily work in corporations.

    But anyway, I think people just want you not to "starve" or have troubles in your life, and they thus try to direct you towards "secure" stuff.

    I do agree with your final conclusion that we end up in a fairly random spot, at least plenty of us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Well first of all I am not 100% sure that this concept is pounded into everyone's brain - I'm sure there are people whose parents are kind of scatterbrained and have strange jobs or own a shop or don't necessarily work in corporations.

    But anyway, I think people just want you not to "starve" or have troubles in your life, and they thus try to direct you towards "secure" stuff.

    I do agree with your final conclusion that we end up in a fairly random spot, at least plenty of us.
    That's true in that everyone has different parents and upbrinings and end up being directed to varying paths. Secure career choices like you stated make sense in terms of survival, however the more ambitious ones could turn out to be a waste of money and time for those that are not suitable for it imo.
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    I've watched the school systems push hard for going to a 4 year college as a stepping stone to getting a higher degree. In fact, in my daughter's old high school, the seniors could not graduate unless they gave a presentation of their after-highschool plans that included a higher than BS/BA degree. They would not accept teens who planned for technical degree plans, or even those who had already been working in their chosen fields (like agriculture wherein their families have been doing it for years). If the student wanted to graduate from highschool, the presented plan had to include the extended education...and debt.

    It's hard to see this happening, especially when there are so many degree holding people that have the massive debts to pay off...but are stuck with minimum wage jobs..and feeling lucky for getting even that.

    As a parent, I am happy my daughter is setting on her path as a baker/pastry chef. Her training and degrees won't lead to massive debts to pay off. It's a relatively stable career. And she has a variety of ways to branch as she increases her abilities as a pastry chef/baker. And, she enjoys it.

    Being happy, enjoying what you do, and being paid to do what you love...to me that is success.
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    Two quotes come to mind:

    "If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same...
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!"
    -- Rudyard Kipling, If

    "Find full reward
    Of doing right in right! Let right deeds be
    Thy motive, not the fruit which comes from them.

    And live in action! Labour! Make thine acts
    Thy piety, casting all self aside,
    Contemning gain and merit; equable
    In good or evil: equability
    Is Yog, is piety!"
    -- Bhagavad Gita (tr. Edwin Arnold)

    I think the idea that one needs to have this overarching dream or vision for one's life causes a lot of people a great deal of suffering. It also blinds them to all the possibilities available to them in any given moment. People lock themselves into goals to such an extent they don't really listen to what their lives are telling them, or even their own bodies are telling them. I think having goals is fine, but having interests and general guiding principles that draw out the best, most enthusiastic, most alive and vital parts of yourself is better. Those values can be mediated or informed by what other people in your life value or are affected by, also. For instance, I have a friend in bioengineering. His decision to go into that field was informed by the death of his father from cancer about ten years ago. He wanted to go into a field that would have some hope of impact in medicine. He's extremely passionate about his work because he has a personal connection with the field, but it also matches his temperament and analytical faculties (he is probably one of the most intelligent people I've ever met). Another friend is in law school and wants to specialize in immigration law. She is a second-generation immigrant, and her decision was informed by her experience growing up, but also by the fact that she loves writing and is a gifted speaker.

    The happiest people I know are those who can manage to live the words of the Gita above: it's not so much the "path" itself, but that the moment-to-moment choices they make are based on what turns them on. The very act of getting up in the morning and doing what they do speaks to a very deep part of them and their history. It just happens that they work in fields that are also highly ambitious, but that ambition is fueled by genuine passion and interest. They couldn't have sustained their enthusiasm through years of school (and the day-to-day frustrations that come with any field, really) without that passion.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    Quote Originally Posted by anndelise View Post
    I've watched the school systems push hard for going to a 4 year college as a stepping stone to getting a higher degree. In fact, in my daughter's old high school, the seniors could not graduate unless they gave a presentation of their after-highschool plans that included a higher than BS/BA degree. They would not accept teens who planned for technical degree plans, or even those who had already been working in their chosen fields (like agriculture wherein their families have been doing it for years). If the student wanted to graduate from highschool, the presented plan had to include the extended education...and debt.

    It's hard to see this happening, especially when there are so many degree holding people that have the massive debts to pay off...but are stuck with minimum wage jobs..and feeling lucky for getting even that.

    As a parent, I am happy my daughter is setting on her path as a baker/pastry chef. Her training and degrees won't lead to massive debts to pay off. It's a relatively stable career. And she has a variety of ways to branch as she increases her abilities as a pastry chef/baker. And, she enjoys it.

    Being happy, enjoying what you do, and being paid to do what you love...to me that is success.
    Agreed, careers that don't require a 4 year degree university are often not promoted as viable by parents and the school system. However, for a lot of people this is the best path for them especially if it suits their dream goals and their mindset. It's unfortunate that many people end up with massive debts with completed or uncompleted degrees that they did not enjoy to pursue careers that were pushed upon them because they were deemed as prestigious and ended up suffering during the process.

    Quote Originally Posted by Animal View Post
    Two quotes come to mind:

    "If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same...
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!"
    -- Rudyard Kipling, If

    "Find full reward
    Of doing right in right! Let right deeds be
    Thy motive, not the fruit which comes from them.

    And live in action! Labour! Make thine acts
    Thy piety, casting all self aside,
    Contemning gain and merit; equable
    In good or evil: equability
    Is Yog, is piety!"
    -- Bhagavad Gita (tr. Edwin Arnold)

    I think the idea that one needs to have this overarching dream or vision for one's life causes a lot of people a great deal of suffering. It also blinds them to all the possibilities available to them in any given moment. People lock themselves into goals to such an extent they don't really listen to what their lives are telling them, or even their own bodies are telling them. I think having goals is fine, but having interests and general guiding principles that draw out the best, most enthusiastic, most alive and vital parts of yourself is better. Those values can be mediated or informed by what other people in your life value or are affected by, also. For instance, I have a friend in bioengineering. His decision to go into that field was informed by the death of his father from cancer about ten years ago. He wanted to go into a field that would have some hope of impact in medicine. He's extremely passionate about his work because he has a personal connection with the field, but it also matches his temperament and analytical faculties (he is probably one of the most intelligent people I've ever met). Another friend is in law school and wants to specialize in immigration law. She is a second-generation immigrant, and her decision was informed by her experience growing up, but also by the fact that she loves writing and is a gifted speaker.

    The happiest people I know are those who can manage to live the words of the Gita above: it's not so much the "path" itself, but that the moment-to-moment choices they make are based on what turns them on. The very act of getting up in the morning and doing what they do speaks to a very deep part of them and their history. It just happens that they work in fields that are also highly ambitious, but that ambition is fueled by genuine passion and interest. They couldn't have sustained their enthusiasm through years of school (and the day-to-day frustrations that come with any field, really) without that passion.
    You hit the nail on the head by stating that not only one must have a deep passion if they are seeking an ambitious goal, but they also must have the talent for it simultaneously. For some people, this may be a conventional goal like becoming a lawyer or doctor. For others, it will be something more obscure like a musician, poet, etc... Then they'll like have to find a suitable profession they can tolerate to survive while they chase their dream or plunge head first into their dream goal if they are motivated enough and prefer to live life on the edge. Anyways, I feel this song kind of illustrates the fact that we must make ourselves if we wish to succeed and be happy in life and not be thrust upon goals that are deemed acceptable by society, parents and others that influence us:

    "Nothing happens until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raver View Post
    You hit the nail on the head by stating that not only one must have a deep passion if they are seeking an ambitious goal, but they also must have the talent for it simultaneously. For some people, this may be a conventional goal like becoming a lawyer or doctor. For others, it will be something more obscure like a musician, poet, etc... Then they'll like have to find a suitable profession they can tolerate to survive while they chase their dream or plunge head first into their dream goal if they are motivated enough and prefer to live life on the edge. Anyways, I feel this song kind of illustrates the fact that we must make ourselves if we wish to succeed and be happy in life and not be thrust upon goals that are deemed acceptable by society, parents and others that influence us:
    Yeah, I definitely think it's important to extricate what really gives you happiness from the desires that others may have for you. One big point to remember, though, is the issue of careerism and career-focused living. We will spend a lot of time at work over the course of our lives, but I think the importance of a career has been overemphasized to the point where we're basically conditioning ourselves for suffering. The specific career you're in is not so important, IME, so much as what your work brings out of you. For example, someone I know from high school went to school to be an opera singer. Over the last few years, however, he's discovered how little work there actually is for singers. This has led him to think of alternative careers. He basically had to ask himself what was it about singing that made him happy, and what other fields would satisfy those needs. For him it was the ability to convey an inner vision, public recognition (as any honest soul in the performing arts will tell you, you don't go into it unless you crave attention, lol), and something that wasn't the 9-5 grind. He's now actually a set and lighting designer for shows in Las Vegas. Another example is my writing professor: he originally had his hopes set on medical school... but, like many other applicants, he didn't get in. He applied two more times... nothing. Eventually, he found his way into science journalism. He found that he got the chance stay in his field, but also work with people face-to-face, which is what he really loved.

    I think a lot of people get fixated on having this or that career, when those are really subject to the tides of the zeitgeist. Times change. Careers appear and disappear with demand. Professions like music, writing, and art are really being transformed in the internet age, and I think a lot of people are still operating under the model that was relevant 20 years ago. That might still work for a lucky few, but the majority will need to really find their niche over and over again in this rapidly changing market. And the only way to do so without going completely insane or growing bitter as fuck is to find the general thread that underlies your passions and not get caught up on the specifics of a career.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    The magic is not to choose the path, but never to reject it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal View Post
    Yeah, I definitely think it's important to extricate what really gives you happiness from the desires that others may have for you. One big point to remember, though, is the issue of careerism and career-focused living. We will spend a lot of time at work over the course of our lives, but I think the importance of a career has been overemphasized to the point where we're basically conditioning ourselves for suffering. The specific career you're in is not so important, IME, so much as what your work brings out of you. For example, someone I know from high school went to school to be an opera singer. Over the last few years, however, he's discovered how little work there actually is for singers. This has led him to think of alternative careers. He basically had to ask himself what was it about singing that made him happy, and what other fields would satisfy those needs. For him it was the ability to convey an inner vision, public recognition (as any honest soul in the performing arts will tell you, you don't go into it unless you crave attention, lol), and something that wasn't the 9-5 grind. He's now actually a set and lighting designer for shows in Las Vegas. Another example is my writing professor: he originally had his hopes set on medical school... but, like many other applicants, he didn't get in. He applied two more times... nothing. Eventually, he found his way into science journalism. He found that he got the chance stay in his field, but also work with people face-to-face, which is what he really loved.

    I think a lot of people get fixated on having this or that career, when those are really subject to the tides of the zeitgeist. Times change. Careers appear and disappear with demand. Professions like music, writing, and art are really being transformed in the internet age, and I think a lot of people are still operating under the model that was relevant 20 years ago. That might still work for a lucky few, but the majority will need to really find their niche over and over again in this rapidly changing market. And the only way to do so without going completely insane or growing bitter as fuck is to find the general thread that underlies your passions and not get caught up on the specifics of a career.
    Very good advice that I'll be sure to heed for myself. In the end, there are multiple careers that we are all capable of doing with enjoyment, but we will only have the chance to do a select few of them and we need to seize the opportunity if it ever becomes available to us. Like you mentioned when one door closes, another door opens so one shouldn't suffer and beat their heads over not being able to get into one specific career that they desired. I found an article by the way that you might find interesting that relates to what you've mentioned, which states that giving up on unattainable goals and pursuing newer attainable goals is actually more healthy and beneficial:

    http://psych-your-mind.blogspot.ca/2...bad-motto.html
    Last edited by Raver; 08-07-2013 at 10:33 AM.
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