Authenticity is the quality of being genuine and true to oneself. It means thinking, speaking and acting in a way that aligns with your nature, values, interests, and goals.
Life presents all kinds of obstacles to living an authentic life and the career path we choose is no exception. Indeed, with the job market as it is, it can seem like we have no choice but to follow a career path that is poorly suited to us. A job’s a job, after all.
In addition, there are many other factors that influence our career path, besides what our authentic voice knows to be right, including the opinions and advice of family, friends and other authority figures, the culture and society we live in, and the prospect of high pay and a comfortable or luxurious life.
But can you put a price on authenticity? For many, the cost of ‘selling out’ or ‘selling your soul’ weighs heavy; heavy enough to want to do something about it.
Here’s what you can do to avoid this situation.
Listen to Your Authentic Voice
We all have an authentic voice. It’s that intuitive aspect of ourselves that knows deep down what is best for us and what will allow us to thrive. Each one of us is surely in the best position to know what kind of job will make us glad to wake up in the morning and proceed with the day ahead.
Unfortunately, our authentic voice can become muted and silenced due to the influence of many other voices that we are surrounded by.
Many of us carry around an inner critic in our heads that makes judgements on what we do, including our career choices. This critical inner voice originates with the judgements directed at us when we’re growing up and it continues to be influenced by other voices around us that we come to trust.
However, there are various techniques that can be used to silence the inner critic, allowing your authentic voice to come through and regain its truly authoritative position.
Listen to this voice. Once you do, you may realise that the career path you’re on is completely at odds with your values and principles. We’re not all lucky enough to be in a position to give up a soul-crushing career.
This is why it’s important to make sensible and well-thought-out plans, basing decisions on a realistic assessment of one’s personal finances and circumstances. You want to be authentic in your career path, but you also want to be able to sustain the trajectory you’re on.
Pay special attention to the advice of others
It can be hard to ignore the advice of loved ones, especially when the advice they give comes from a caring place and helpful intentions. But the intention of helping does not automatically mean that the advice in question is the best course of action.
Be mindful of which comments are consistent with your authentic voice and which ones aren’t. Even though your parents have more life experience than you, want the best for you and know what you’re like as a person, this doesn’t necessarily mean their career advice is authoritative.
Often, advice from others about what we should do is a projection of that person’s desires and insecurities, as well as a reflection of wider societal attitudes.
Of course, some voices are trustworthy, such as talented people in your field who inspire you to achieve your personal goals, as well as friends and family who motivate you to act authentically.
Pay special attention to whether the advice from others is in your best interest and make up your own mind. As the lecturer Terence McKenna said: “If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.”
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