Have You Ever Had A Career Path?

Basically, we’ve grown up very focused on the institution. The institution tells me what to do. It tells me where to go. It tells me what my career path is, and then I, sort of, attach my own personal desires, my own personal interests. I think we’re living in a time where we’re going to have to change – to put people in the center. ~Michael Mullen

I knew what I wanted to be when I was negative three months old…

There’s an old myth that successful people know exactly what they want to do in life before leaving the womb, work towards this goal throughout their schooling and spring into a six figure career as soon as they graduate… At least, that’s what I was lead to believe as a young monkey just out of high school.

I didn’t prepare for a career, other than having some vague ideas about wanting to be an artist. I wasn’t even ready for that, because no one taught me that art is a business… I wouldn’t be able to sit home and draw whatever I wanted, and have an adoring audience pile money at my feet.

Not knowing what else to do, I started attending college. With a tiny glance towards actually making money one day, I pursued commercial art over studio art. Actually, that isn’t quite true… I switched to commercial art after spending a fair bit of time working towards a degree in studio art.

I drifted along without any defined goals. Sometimes I stumbled upon rewarding work that was in line with my interests, and sometimes I fell into the drudgery of working for money. Even in the jobs that I enjoyed and were art related, I always had a sense of not living up to my potential. I had no plan to align my efforts with, and life seemed random and almost pointless…

I returned to higher education, this time going for a REAL degree… history. My fuzzy idea was to maybe become a teacher. No plan equates to no goals, and I settled on working for the government. Sure, it didn’t pay much but it had a pension and benefits! And the angels sang halleluiah… I was a big boy now.

I was a big boy , and big time unhappy. My random meanderings landed me in a job I hated, doing work that was not in line with my desires. It was time to wake up…

Was the randomness really so random?

I didn’t have a plan mapped out since birth. There was no getting in to a law firm at the age of six for me. I did lots of different jobs in the past, and started thinking about them as a group. No, there isn’t a clearly defined sense of order to my past efforts, but looked at as a whole, they all kind of fit together… Everything I’ve done in the past led to right now, with the skills and desires I’m currently expressing.

I made a list of the past jobs I’ve held. (Here’s my resume I created for this blog, for those who like to read boring stuff). I began looking for common thread in all of the disjointed jobs. Once I had the list compiled, I looked for the talents and skills that were present in most of these positions.

My job list looks like this:

  • Visual display associate for a department store- Setting up product displays and mannequins.
  • Framer/carpenter.- Construction industry. Built framework of houses.
  • Clothing sales- My first job. I was still in school… An upscale mens boutique.
  • Sculptor/artist.- Freelance work.
  • Set builder/ scenic painter- For a company that builds amusement parks rides.
  • Foundryman- Worked in a fine arts bronze foundry as a caster and mold-maker.
  • Boat carpenter- Did interior carpentry for a company that built custom yachts.
  • Compliance officer- Worked for a municipal government. Not creative at all.
Skills And Talents Common In These Positions
  • Building/making.
  • Creating.
  • Creativity.
  • Hands on type of work.
  • Translating ideas/concepts into concrete form.
  • Mostly required technical skill.
Not such a random collection after all.
Why am I always making stuff!?

Why am I always making stuff!?

Looking back, it seems I had an unconscious idea of what I wanted to do, but not a clearly defined path. What looked random at first is actually a haphazard collection of attempts to find what I wanted from life.

I didn’t define what that was at the time though, so my efforts were hit or miss, and ultimately unrewarding. the was always the sense of not being true to myself.

Doug and I have a plan now. Sure, it’s not fully developed yet, but we’re refining it a bit more each day. At least the sense of meaningless drifting is in the past.

We’re monkeys with direction! We spent a lot of years discovering what we didn’t want to do. Now, with a goal in mind, we’re heading down the correct path for us.

We now have life experience to draw from to add richness to our creative efforts. We’re getting back to making stuff, with an added intention of helping others find their happiness…


Make a list of all the jobs and careers you’ve had in the past. Write down everything from your teenage after school job to your current, or last career.

Look over the list and see if there are common threads running through most of the jobs you held. What appears random at first may have actually been guided by the unconscious part of yourself, trying to find contentment on autopilot… What do the common themes tell you about yourself?

What do they tell you about your future desires?

Do you want to continue on with you usual career choices or do you want to start over with something completely different? It’s up to you, and either choice is valid. The key is making a conscious choice. Take control of your path, and keep heading towards contentment. Ask yourself… What career is right for me?

What can you do with your skills?


  1. My Hubs is a compliance officer at a community bank, Guessing your compliance was a headache of federal, state & other laws for the city government?

    1. I enforced municipal codes concerning as property maintenance and business advertising. The worst neighborhoods in the city fell to me, so I mainly condemned crack houses and dealt with the associated issues.

  2. I admire your courage. When I went from meandering through life to a purposeful life, I knew the vehicle that would take me there was teaching. A teacher I became. I would not have been so brave had I not known that I was meant to be, and wanted to be, a teacher. Your journey is inspiring.
    I enjoy your writings. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your kin response. I thought I wanted to be a teacher too… My wife teaches high school English, and I’ve seen enough to convince me teaching isn’t for me. I need to be unconstrained and creative… I know creativity is possible in teaching, but I feel I’m at the point in my life to REALLY become who I want to be… I just have to finish figuring out who that is!

  3. Dearest Monkey, you must be who you are now because you are already that. Or something like that.

    1. Or, I’m already who I am, because that’s what I’ve become…. All I know is a woodchuck would chuck 2.5 cords of wood…

  4. Fellow Gen Xer here. I think many of us are working towards gradually refining and redefining our careers and aspirations.

    1. It seems that way. I hope we all manage to do it successfully. Thanks for reading.

  5. All jobs are different, yet all are related to art and the last one compliance officer was the melting point where you hibernated from art to understand , the art of living. Art is about empathy and creativity, and to feel any issue ..you must have an exposure to systems and people. I think, i maybe wrong ..it was that exposure which may have given you a wake up call 🙂 Alarms are not always noisy, few are below human’s audible level but are heard by monkeys 🙂

    1. Thanks for the insight… I think you may be right. It’s a good thing I have a monkey to hear such alarms,and to help me along.

      1. 🙂 Happy Monkey Day..

  6. Thanks for sharing your ups and downs. I am going to do your little exercise and report back later. Love it.

    1. Thanks- Let me know how it goes for you.

  7. […] accepting a job with The City (All rights reserved. Trademark held by SATAN!), I was a creator. I built things, I altered things, I was doing what made me smile… Somehow, I lost focus, and started doing work […]

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