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Career Paths and Your Lifestyle

Your career path is a series of stepping stones. Over time, they take you where you want to go in terms of work. But it’s important to think of your work in the context of your life and lifestyle. These days, work and life often overlap because of:

  • Technology. People in many jobs can work from anywhere now. Remote access to computers at the office, wireless internet, video-conferencing, and instant messaging makes this possible.
  • Connected world economies (globalization). Companies can operate all over the world and around the clock. Goods, services, and money move around easily.
  • A culture focused on work. People feel pressure to perform and produce now more than ever.

It might help to think of a career path as a career/work/life path. The goal is to choose a career that lets you have the life you want.

A generation or two ago, when you finished work, you came home and entered another world. There were no mobile devices, the Internet, or telecommuting. Your job stayed where you left it. You didn’t bring it home.

The lines between work, workplaces, and workers themselves are getting blurrier all the time. For example, here are some workplace trends:

  • Mobile devices and laptops mean workers can be on call 24/7.
  • Some people work a number of 12-hour days, then get several days off in a row.
  • Others work from home, job share, or work flex-time.
  • Some people work different hours to deal with people in different countries.

Imagine your lifestyle

Communication technology, globalization, and an aging population will continue to shape the way Canadians live, work, and raise their families.

What does all of that have to do with you and your career path?

Because of factors like these, what you do for work can influence your lifestyle—and vice versa.  For example, depending on your job, you might be able to:

  • Run an errand in the afternoon, then make up the time in the evening.
  • Go to work early so you can take a child to the dentist later in the day.
  • Work a compressed week and take every Friday off.

Some people love blending work into their lives. They like the flexibility and don’t mind when the two mix. Other people would rather leave work at work. When they’re off, they want to be completely off. What about you?

Consider the trade-offs

Remember that in your career, to get one thing, you may need to give up another. For example, you may picture yourself making a high salary in a profession.

But many professionals:

  • May work long days
  • May have to work on weekends
  • May not get paid for overtime
  • May not have as much time as they’d like for exercise or hobbies

Maybe you picture yourself running your own business. The freedom can seem appealing. But people who are self-employed tend to work very hard and put in long hours.

Or maybe you’d rather do shift work. Usually when you leave shift work, you don’t have to think about it again until you return. Your free time is all yours.

On the other hand you:

  • May not always like the hours
  • May have little control over your hours
  • May wish you had more flexibility to fit personal things into your day

Make your own decision

There’s no answer that suits everyone. The key is to know what would make you happiest. Here are some things to think about when you’re trying to picture a career path:

  • Hours and income. You can earn a lot of money in some occupations. But you might not have as much time or energy for other things, like sports, arts, or volunteering. What are your priorities?
  • Workplace setting. If you love being outside, could you be happy working in an office?  Take this 10-minute quiz to help you figure out what your ideal working conditions are.
  • Travel. Some jobs require frequent travel, sometimes overseas. Or you may have to move or travel to pursue some kinds of work, to study, or to take a job. Would that make you feel mostly excited or mostly stressed?

When you imagine your ideal future, try to consider the many aspects of your possible lifestyle. There are bound to be trade-offs. The key is to know what’s most important for you.

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