5 Myths of a Successful Career




Laura Garnett

The success advice that you have heard before no longer applies and the rules are changing. Here are five myths to consider.


Focusing on your career is something that becomes more pronounced in various stages of life — when you graduate from high school or college, get laid off, feel the itch to leave a longtime job, or think about starting a business. Career navigation is a part of navigating life. Given that this is a constant area of focus, it’s important to be able to navigate the world of advice and myths that surround the journey of success.

With that comes conventional wisdom for achieving success, some of which has been passed down from generation to generation. For example, we’re taught that getting a college education is a must for a successful career. However, we all know that there are countless success stories that didn’t begin on college campuses. (Take Richard Branson, for one.)

What, then, are some of the other success myths that continue to be debunked — and should be avoided? Here are five to consider:

Myth #1: You have to learn things that don’t interest you. The people who love what they do maximize their talents and purpose. They don’t waste time doing something that isn’t aligned with who they are.


Myth #2: You have to do what has been done before. Yes, you can find success by following a proven path that others have taken. But countless innovators create success in ways that nobody has thought of before. In our ever-changing marketplace, new ideas and new paths can also lead to success. Don’t be afraid to break the rules — if they don’t work for you. The path to a successful career is as unique as you are.


Myth #3: Someone else knows what’s best for you. This may be true when you are a kid and your parents are in charge of your well-being. However, when it comes to building a successful career, the more you do what is right for you, the more likely you will be more successful. They key is getting connected to your truth and your intuition. This can be challenging in a sea of distractions and outside advice, but when all else fails, trust your gut.


Myth #4: Follow the money. This path can get people into careers that are not right for them. Society will make you feel crazy for leaving a big-bucks job or pursuing one that doesn’t pay as well. They’re often wrong. When Jeff Bezos created Amazon, he left a well-paying job and ignored his mentor and boss, who advised him not start Amazon. Do you think he made the right decision? He didn’t decide based on money — but money often comes when you do what is right for you.


Myth #5: You should care about the opinions of others. Actually, ignoring what others think is often critical for career success. Jennifer Crocker, a psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, ran a study that proved when you make decisions about your life based on what others think, you suffer. She found that college students who made most of their decisions, such as what classes to take and what to wear based on what others thought, had lower grades and higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders — meaning their confidence suffered. Those students that made decisions based on their own internal compasses, in contrast, thrived. If, similar to the students in the study, you are basing your career decisions on what other people think, you will end up achieving anything but real success, living a vision not your own.

Bottom line: The success advice that you have heard before no longer applies. The rules are changing. The best strategy to maximizing your success is to focus on who you are and take the steps that allow you to be your full self. This new approach requires facing fears and potentially going against the grain. And that’s tough. However, most people that create the kind of success they want embrace the fear and move forward anyway. Find some people that have the kind of success you desire and read their stories, get inspired, and don’t be afraid to go for and create the career you want. Soon enough, success will follow.

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