The Highlands Company Blog

5 Common Career Myths

We all grow up with certain myths about our careers based on what we observed growing up in our family of origin, and our own goals.


1. The more money I make, the happier I will be.

Two years ago Jason came to see me. He had gone to law school to “make money and not have his own children go through a tough life like he did with his father being a janitor.” Jason hated law school and hated practicing law even more. People who make a lot of money are not necessarily happy. Finding a career that is satisfying is more important. Knowing your abilities, skills, values and interests will help you make a good choice. When we find a career we like, we are inwardly satisfied, want to do better and are more motivated. Todd May, a writer from the NY Times argues that to have a meaningful life one must feel worthwhile.

2. There is a perfect job out there.

There is no perfect job for anyone! When we look for aspects we want from a job like good salary, job satisfaction, great boss, lots of vacation time, great hours-It won’t happen! We have to decide three of the most important things we need. The position could offer great benefits, salary and a short commute but have a boss from hell… not worth it.

3. The better school I go to – the more successful I will be.

Going to a prestigious school like Yale will give you contacts and a good job initially-but it is still up to individual performance. Last year I coached a women who went to a local state college in marketing. However, her strong determination to make a difference, develop contacts and arrange fabulous internships landed her a great job with an outstanding company. Having to pay for her own education highly motivated her to be successful. Going to a prestigious school can often make people lazy as they assume they are entitled to better positions.

4. If I go back to school for more education after my bachelors’ degree, I will find a great job.

Nowadays, there is no guarantee that any further education will assure a job. Most self-made millionaires or entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates claim they started their businesses because of their passions in a certain area.

In returning to school, the most important things to look for:

  • Does the degree match my values and passions?
  • Will it offer me positions that I could see myself working in for the next 10-20 years?
  • Does the economy have a need for my new skills or knowledge gained?

5. If I go into a profession such as social work or counseling, I will likely be poor the rest of my life.

When people are motivated by wanting to make a difference they will work hard and can have a lot of self satisfaction. It can also be a stepping stone to other careers. Often people who work at higher paying jobs and have high social status often feel imprisoned in hierarchical bureaucracies.

Finding a suitable career or making a career change is a challenge and takes lots of work. Persistence and motivation can never be stressed enough to go forward in life.