Choosing A Career Or Vocation
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
"No two persons are born alike but each differs from the other in individual endowments, one being suited for one thing and another for another, and all things will be provided in superior quality and quantity and with greatest ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts." Plato (427-347 B. C.).
The choice of a vocation is undoubtedly one of the most important questions you will ever be called upon to consider. Few acts are fraught with more unhappiness and regret than that of stumbling into an occupation instead of making a careful and deliberate choice, based upon a painstaking study of the aspirations and qualities within you and the opportunities all around you. The life work you choose will be your deepest source of happiness or of sorrow, depending upon whether or not it fills a need you really feel, and, moreover, upon whether or not your natural aptitudes, as well as your training and economic situation, fit you to realize that need. Real success and happiness demand a perfect adjustment between the requirements of the occupation and the personal gifts of the worker.
The right choice of an occupation was never more important than it is today. This is the age of specialization, and the man who goes farthest along the road to success is the one who is trained to do some one thing well. But, more than that, in order to meet the crushing competition that even the specialist must encounter, the successful man must have all that enthusiasm and energy which he can get only from doing the work that nature intended him to do.
Everyone has decided likes and dislikes. There are those things which interest us and those which do not. No man, for instance, who has not the urge to spread the word of God and instill His love in the hearts and minds of mankind would ever choose, of his own volition, the pulpit or the missionary field. Yet, there are thousands upon thousands of persons who not only feel no urge for the work in which they engage, but actually hate that work. These people have never succeeded in making the most of their opportunities, and never will succeed. Their own lives and the lives of those dependent on them are made miserable through financial difficulties and through mental and moral dissatisfaction and discontent. The reason why many a man's life is wasted in seeking out the worthless pleasures of the world is because he has not found happiness within the bounds of his work. The world is already too full of these misfits, for whom the careful choice of an occupation might have meant all the difference between success and failure, happiness and wretchedness.
More than a natural leaning toward certain interests is, how-ever, necessary to success. Just as the man without the urge of God within him should never take the pulpit, so no man, no matter how greatly he loved music, should choose the vocation of a composer unless nature had granted him one of her greatest gifts—inborn musical talent. Nor should a man with a frail body choose the military service no matter how much the work appealed to him.
So, in choosing a career, it may be said that there are two primal requisites. In the first place, every man should under-stand himself. He should know his own natural aptitudes, interests, ambitions, abilities, resources and limitations; and, second, he must know the requirements of a certain occupation, and the conditions under which success may be won in that field. He must know what the duties, advantages, disadvantages, compensations and opportunities for advancement are in that particular occupation, and he must know its social standing, its peculiar demands, and the probable cost of preparation.
One of the most deplorable things in the world is the fact that so many young people expect to drift into a career instead of choosing one deliberately. After all, there is nothing hap-hazard in the whole universe; every one of God's creations is capable of serving a definite purpose, and it should be one's aim to find out and serve that purpose.
Ask a group of young men—"Why did you choose this occupation?"—and the answers will be:
"Because that was what the other boys did."
"Because I happened to get a job at that trade."
"Because I could make more money at that than at anything else."
Many could not answer this question at all, for the simple reason that they have never chosen a career, but just happened into it, and were without any definite purpose in following it. The impossibility of good results under such circumstances is self-evident. And the great pity of it is that so many people fail to realize that this haphazard choosing may be avoided. There is not a person of ordinary intelligence who cannot ex-amine and question his physical and mental endowments and tell his tendencies of temperament and imagination as well as judge his natural intellectual powers. In short, he can examine everything which goes to make for ultimate success or failure in a particular line of work. He merely needs to be shown how.
Often a man is diverted from his true pursuit by chance, or by the desire or need for immediate financial return. Every man who allows himself to be so turned away must lay aside all hope for future greatness. It is not putting it too strongly to say that it is every man's duty to get into the right place, no matter what the sacrifice in the beginning. He owes it to himself, to his Maker and to those dependent on him to get into the line of work for which nature intended him, and to get there as quickly as possible.