Why aiming for a career is terrible advice for life

“Machines have become as much like people as people have become like machines. They pulsate with life while we become robots”.

E.F. Schumacher

Be quiet in class and you will get good grades.

If you get good grades you will get into the right school.

If you get into the right school you will get a good job.

If you get a good job you will have a good career…and if you have a good career your life will be perfect.

The end.

But, I’ll question the value of having a career and I’d challenge the sense in telling our young people to strive for something that makes the majority of the adult population tired, frustrated, indebted and miserable.

Most people with a career aren’t very happy. That is a fact. Careers require us to become highly specialised in some trivial thing. So we are brilliant in one minute range of knowledge or skill but absolutely rubbish at everything else. We can’t fix our own cars. We don’t know how to produce our own music. We rely on others to care for our children or look after our money.

The career is an empty promise. It is striving and suffering for future wealth and happiness. Trouble is people aren’t getting particularly happy or wealthy from their labours.  Years ago a single adult’s earnings supported the entire family. Now two adults working two jobs each can’t pay an average families bills and our jobs are not secure. They can disappear at any instant leaving us in the lurch.

Far from being an outlet for our creativity and intelligence our careers are becoming mechanistic and dull. The machine and digitisation has not been our salvation from drudgerous jobs unfit for men and women. But worst, our careers do little to enhance our wellbeing or bring the riches for a life of leisure and pleasure. Far from freeing us our machines mean that the office follows us everywhere we go.

I reject the notion of a career. I do not believe that we were born to work our lives away as corporate drones in a system designed only to benefit an obscenely wealthy few.

Humanity is rich and brilliant in spite of our careers not because of them. Our greatest achievements are by passionate and poorly paid teachers, scientists, musicians, artists, writers, programmers and philosophers.

Perhaps we need money yes, but there are more spiritually uplifting and satisfying means to generate what we need to live a good life. And this only becomes easier as we become thriftier.



4 thoughts on “Why aiming for a career is terrible advice for life

  1. You say “I reject the notion of a career.”

    Then you say “there are more spiritually uplifting and satisfying means to generate what we need to live a good life” without naming any of those methods.

    Make me a concrete suggestion, please.

    • Sure thing JCC – I’m actually writing a few posts on exactly this topic because you read any threads on simple living and all that people are asking about are ‘what jobs are compatible with simple living?’ then there are a bunch more discussions of why it’s good to be a teacher or something. Will post very soon.

  2. Terrible advice..
    It’s possible to balance work and life. Like anything in life, as long as we practice moderation and draw a clear line separating the two, a career is a great thing. Also, having a career can be very rewarding and often times add different spices to life to make it more interesting.

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