Don’t Let Your Major Define Your Career and Life

You might feel that you’ve studied the wrong major and you might even have some regrets about it. You do not necessarily need to work in the same field that you studied. The good news is, that if you have other interests or career goals that you just recently discovered, it is not too late to pursue them, as long as you’re willing to change your mindset. By doing this you will be able to live a life that is more intentional instead of just being passive and let things happen to you.

Perhaps you aren’t particularly interested in the subject you studied in college or university. And you might not be keen on working in a related field.

Many people can’t see beyond their major and risk losing out on many great opportunities in life.

Someone who studied engineering may feel that they are stuck with it for the rest of their life, and can’t imagine themselves being anything else than an engineer.

Someone who studied Business Administration or Marketing may think that their only way forward is to work for a big corporation.

That’s fine, if what you studied matches with the kind of career that you want then it’s all good.

But what if you just realize halfway throughout your studies, or perhaps even after graduation that you don’t want to work in that field particular field?

And that the reason that you studied that major was because right after high school you didn’t have a clear idea about what you wanted to do yet, and so you picked the next thing that kinda made sense to you.

If this sounds anything like you, I hope that after reading this blog post, you will be able to find a newfound sense of freedom.

That you will no longer feel like you’re limited, constrained inside a box just because you studied a certain major.

If you have other interests or career goals that you just recently discovered, it is not too late to pursue them.

In case right now you feel kinda down or frustrated about the fact that you studied a major that you don’t love, here are some examples to show you that you do not necessarily need to work in the same field that you studied.

This is much more common than you think!

I have a friend who studied medicine and also practiced it for a while but then after a few years started doing wedding photography. Now he’s running his own photography business and doing it full-time.

I studied Business Administration and worked in banking for a while but after five years I quit my job and moved into the entertainment industry.

My aunt studied economics but she never worked in that field at all. She never even started there. Instead, she became a children’s book illustrator. 

If you take a closer look at your family, your extended family, your friends, and acquaintances, then you’ll quickly realize that there are so many people out there who studied one thing but ended up working in a totally different field.

Changing lanes is completely possible.

You should never feel like you are stuck with a major that you studied.

I can understand if right now you have this feeling of regret. For four, five or even seven years you studied in a certain program and you put in so much work. 

Throughout your studies, you began to realize that can’t see yourself working in that field. But because you’ve already invested so much time, effort, and money, you feel like you’re forced to stay on that path. To continue on that path so your whole personal story makes sense.

Four or five years is, of course, a lot of time. So it is understandable that one would want to try to stay on that course.

But if you try to look at it from a bird’s eye point of view, then it is not that long.

Let’s say you live until 80, 90 or hopefully even longer. So if you studied for four or five years, that’s only about 5% of your whole life. Even if you’ve studied seven or eight years that’s just ten percent of your life.

Why should you let the activities that you did for five to ten percent of your life dictate your entire life and your career?

Granted, your studies, especially if you are very young, will make up a major portion of your life experiences. But the older you get, the smaller that portion will be. 

Some people say, that not continuing in a job that matches your major is a waste. 

But what about making your entire life depend on that major, isn’t that an even bigger waste? 

Believe me, life is too short for that.

What you need to do is to treat this major and the time spent on it as sunk costs. The cost, the effort, and the time have already been expended.

That was all in the past. 

Now what you need to do is to look forward.

Just because you made a decision that at least you think is wrong in the past, it doesn’t mean that it needs to define your entire future.

And in this case, having a degree in a field in which you don’t want to work in is not a hundred percent sunk cost. It’s not like a concert ticket that you’re not using because you had more awesome plans to go for a weekend trip to an island.

The reason is that there are a lot of things and learnings that you got from getting this degree, that you will still be benefiting from, no matter in which area you work. 

This is especially the case for your first degree. Besides the obvious knowledge and skills you’ve accumulated (of which you might say are area/field-specific), there are a lot of other things you reaped from your studies.

The three major benefits of studying or going to university are: 

  1. You’ve learned how to learn. Of course, you can do that by yourself, not all people need that kind of structure. But for most people going to university can help them to look at things more systematically and scientifically.
  2. After high school, college or university is the first time where you have the experience of socializing with other people in a more professional setting.  And this is something a general skill that will be useful to you in whatever career that you will pursue in the future.
  3. A University degree is a kind of stamp of approval. Ceteris paribus, or all other things remaining constant you’ll always have a better chance in the job market with a degree than without one. A degree, any degree, makes it much much easier for employers to sort out qualified employees. 

I’m not saying that everybody has to have a university degree to succeed in life. There are plenty of people who had success without any kind of degree

But again, it all depends on how you define success, right?

Earning a degree does have some benefits. So even if you’ve earned a degree in a field that you don’t want to work, then the good news is

that not everything is lost and not everything is wasted either.

If you define yourself based on the major that you took you, you might be missing out on a lot in the future.

You’ll still live for such a long time – yes, even in case you reading right now are ‘already’ 60′, chances are you’ll still live another 30 years.

Why would you let one thing that you think was a mistake define the rest of your life?

Of course, it will take additional effort, even money, and time to reroute.

That will all depend on whether or not you need a second degree, perhaps just a certification, or an online course. And also, how high the barriers to entry in your target career are. 

There will be a lot of effort involved in the process and will need to carefully consider the options. But just know that you are not stuck with a major that you first studied.

One of the most challenging things in life is to make the right decisions. Nowadays there are so many choices, so many options. 

And the burden of decision is on us.

It’s worth taking some time to think this through. Explore your options, think about what your real interests and your passions in life are, but also think beyond that.

What is it that you want from a career? 

Different people will want different things from their careers. Not everyone will rank ‘following their passion’ as number one.

For some people, being able to earn a steady or a very high income, could be a priority and that is fine. It’s different for everyone

Try to clarify your thoughts and make a decision as soon as possible because everything is a process and will need time.

By doing this you will be able to live a life that is more intentional instead of just being passive and let things happen to you.

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