What Do You Do for a Living?

Career Guidance in a Changing World

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?” asked Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
—Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Alice in Wonderland

In a recent survey, 64 percent of college seniors expressed serious doubts about their choice of academic major. Another survey of 1.7 million workers by Gallup showed that only approximately 20 percent felt that they used their best strengths every day at work. And probably more than half of all the people you know are involved in work or study which may not be an ideal fit for them. Is this inevitable? How does it happen?

The traditional scenario of the last 50 years or so goes something like this: you choose a college and career path with the help of parents, friends and school career counselors, all of whom usually have some good advice. However, in today’s increasingly diversified and challenging job market, this is simply not enough for such a monumental decision. Concerned parents often stress the need for security over job satisfaction and friends encourage going along with the status quo. And when you try to shut out all the advice for a moment to make an authentic choice, you wonder if you’re not being a total idealist, choosing a job because of a dream instead of a practical plan. Are your passions getting the better of your logic, and how can you find the balance to make the choice that’s right for you?

After all your research has been done, the secret to making a healthy and ultimately fulfilling career choice is self-knowledge. As Jung repeatedly stressed, you are always in the dark about yourself and need others to help you see your motivations and drives. You need others to hold a mirror and reflect yourself back at you. Professional therapists and counselors can help you gain perspective on who you are and uncover which direction to follow for your life path. Astrological vocational profiling is one such mirror which can shine a light on your needs and innate talents. For example, a skilled astrologer is able to see from the natal birth chart the core motivations and needs which guide you toward increased self-knowledge:

  • What talents were you born with? Are you a natural administrator or a leader?
  • Do you shine in sales or are you really a frustrated entertainer?
  • Is altruism high on your list of priorities or are you perhaps studying medicine because one of your parents is a doctor?
  • Does your job need to be portable due to your unstoppable wanderlust?
  • Or do you crave security and need a job which is always in demand?
  • What is your fundamental emotional need—to be appreciated?
  • Or to be in control?
  • Or do you really need to be regarded as socially significant and to make a difference in people’s lives?

Another way of getting in touch with your needs is to work through one of the books recommended below. Nicholas Lore, founder of Rockport Institute, has laid out a thorough and dynamic process which will leave you well-armed with self-knowledge once you’ve completed it. For that is what this search is all about—it is a process of discovery, an outward opening toward the world of work and, simultaneously, an inward movement toward understanding what makes you tick. Neglect the inner work and a career change in mid-life is bound to happen.

If Aristotle was right and “we are what we repeatedly do,” let it be something you were born for, and something which brings a feeling of satisfaction at the end of each day. To be in a job which frustrates your fundamental needs is to build up a backlog of dissatisfaction, eventually leading to dis-ease. What we do defines so much of who we are. What do you do for a living?


This article was first published in the August 2014 edition of Natural Awakenings Magazine, Rockland County, NY. (Visit the magazine and turn to page 19)

© Catherine Goshen. No part of this article may be reproduced without the author’s written permission

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