It’s common for people, when discerning a career path, to only consider the following:
- What am I good at?
- Can I make good money doing it? (Hence an over-focus on STEM fields today)
But when you only ask these two questions, you can easily end up doing work you don’t love, living far away from extended family and roots, and struggling to fit your work into a healthy, happy life.
An improved formula is to instead ask these questions:
- What talents have I been given? (What am I good at?)
- What are the needs around me? (Is there a “market” for this work?)
- What am I passionate about? (Will I truly love this work?)
- What is most important in my life?
Question #4 (What is most important in my life?) is most important and, unfortunately, the least considered. Indeed, the answer to #4 may override the answers to all the other questions! After all, if something’s important enough, it may not matter if I enjoy doing it, or if I get paid much, or if I’m even that good at it.
More importantly, implied within question #4 are so many other key questions that should ultimately determine what type of work we are called to do. Questions like:
- Does this work allow me to put my faith at the center of my life? And leave room for leisure?
- Is this work good for my children? My spouse?
- Does this work allow me to generously and personally care for my neighbor (the one next-door)?
- Will this work allow me to fully participate in my community?
- Will this work allow me to live close to my extended family and roots?
- Is this work conducive to spending lots of time with my family?
- Can I do this work with my family? (i.e. Can I learn it from a parent and/or can I pass it on to my kids? This is a powerful way to not only spend more time together, but to pass on wisdom and build generational bonds.)
- Will this job make me a holier person? (Are you going where you won’t be tempted?)
- Most of all, of course, is this what God is calling me to? (The answer to this question can even contradict our answers to the other questions above—though that would be rare.)
Bottom line: If you want happiness (for you or for your children), it won’t come only from a job you’re good at that pays well (as anyone who’s attained such can attest). So make sure you ask the right questions (and help your children do the same) in discerning your work. It may end up taking you down a very different path.