The Best “Worst” Decisions You Can Make in Your Career

February 19, 2015

The Best “Worst Decisions” You Can Make in Your Career

We’ve all been coached in the cardinal rules of getting and keeping a job. We know not to print copies of our resume on the company printer  and forget them in the tray. We know not to get unfathomably wasted at the company holiday party and show our HR director the tattoo on our inner thigh (even if represents, like, super profound symbolism). That said, some rules in life—like not eating cheese past 10 p.m.—are meant to be broken. This is especially true when it comes to cultivating work you love. Check out some commonly perceived career “no-nos” that we think can actually lead to success—and won’t, contrary to what you’ve been told, automatically result in you living under a freeway overpass!

1. Quitting a stable job (if that job makes you wish you could go back in time and prevent your parents from meeting and producing you)

Is your work so distasteful that you’d rather stand in line at the DMV all day and simultaneously fill out taxes while Kenny G plays overhead and fire ants engulf your body? Unless your work’s benefits package also includes unrestricted use of Beyonce and Jay Z’s yacht, it’s not worth the suffering. Remember: you can always just live vicariously through Bey’s Instagram.

2. Accepting a position that doesn’t pay/has no benefits/requires you to organize paper clips by weight

If it’s a field you’re passionate about and have skill in, embrace fetching that triple-shot, upside-down, organic camel-milk latte that your boss demands every morning. It’ll foster humility, teach you grit, and make it that much sweeter when you rise in the ranks.

3. Avoiding fields that forecast growth and egregious wealth

Sure, the life of a banker is basically a living manifestation of a Lil Wayne music video, but if the work doesn’t engage you, bottle service won’t compensate. Obviously it’s good to be aware of an industry’s stats and their implications. If you plunge into a field that promises Bill Gates-like wealth but entails a 90-hour average workweek—while your priority is spending time with family—you might find yourself miserable. But overall, U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Jobs” list shouldn’t guide you as much as your own personal interests.

4. Putting off/avoiding grad school

Before you commit to a few years of grueling paper-writing (and a lifetime of high-interest loans), explore your options. Test out different jobs, find out what you hate, cry in a few work bathrooms, accidentally send your boss an email you meant to send to someone else in which you complain about his/her management style and dumb pants. Just gain experience and wisdom that doesn’t cost $100,000.

5. Starting over in a new field

Shift happens. Remember when your 5-year-old self was convinced that you wanted to grow up to be a surgeon? And then you realized you hate the smell of hospitals and you’re so afraid of the sight of blood, you can’t even get a paper cut without passing out and dialing 911? Sometimes you have to compare your romantic ideals with your core truths and change course. It’ll ultimately prevent you from turning into an old, bitter person who yells “Get off my lawn! What is a Justin Bieber?!?”

For more “bad” decisions that can actually bring you closer to your dream job, check out our new career guide, Roadmap:

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