11 Biggest Myths About Choosing a Career (That Could Cost You a Lifetime of Money)

Whether you're looking to choose your career or change it, you can throw these myths away.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Starting a profession — or choosing a new one — can be both daunting and exciting.

Despite career experience and collective knowledge dating back hundreds if not thousands of years, myths persist. And some of those misconceptions could cost you a lot of money.

Whether you are looking to choose your career or change it, here are some of the biggest myths to avoid if you hope to find a fulfilling profession that helps you get ahead financially.

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There is only one perfect career

sorapop/Adobe man searching for job using stylus

There is no single career for you — especially if you are just getting started. Many of us explore a variety of careers throughout our working lifetime.

What you consider perfect now may not be so down the road. Searching for something “perfect” wastes time better spent boosting your bank account.

Changing careers is a sign of failure

fizkes/Adobe businessman frustrated by business failure

Experts suggest that workers should be prepared to change careers somewhere in the ballpark of three to seven times during their lives. The reasons for making the switch can be anything from economic to logistical to personal.

So do not let needless shame stop you from leaving one career and jumping into another that might be a better fit.

Changing jobs too often is bad for my career

olly/Adobe man portraying different job roles

Every job is a potential stepping stone. If you see something that looks and feels like the right move, there is no reason not to take it. You never know what it might lead to.

By the same token, if you have a terrible job, it is time to move on.

If you jump around from job to job, you will be in good company. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that workers born between 1957 and 1964 had 12.4 jobs between the ages of 18 and 54.

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I can’t quit a job with a steady income

Svitlana/Adobe man waving goodbye to colleagues

Sure, a secure, full-time job offers stability. But staying in a comfortable role — especially if you are unhappy or unfulfilled — can lead to stagnation. Sometimes, it’s OK to step outside your comfort zone to find change.

This doesn’t mean you should always jump ship. Leaving a job entails risks, and there is no way to know how things will turn out. But risk often has its rewards, including adding more skills to your toolbox and the potential for a higher salary.

College will decide my career

peampath/Adobe students doing study together using laptop

Your academic background is not the only factor in your life that shapes your career. Work experience and skills also play a large role in whether you succeed in your career.

So remember that your degree does not dictate your path. Plenty of people shift careers after they graduate. Employers are often more interested in experience and skills than specific majors (except in highly specialized fields).

College has nothing to do with my career

Gorodenkoff/Adobe multi ethnic students attending lecture

While your academic background is not the only factor that determines career success, it does have an impact on your career path.

The right degree, skills, and studies all influence how likely an employer is to hire you. Don’t be afraid to use what you’ve learned to get hired.

It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond

mdyn/Adobe business woman posing outdoor with telephone

There is nothing wrong with starting — or even continuing — your career in a small town. But working in a small town can have drawbacks.

For example, even though it is typically cheaper to live in a rural town than a major metropolis, you may face more limitations on your salary.

I can do anything

hitdelight/Adobe confident woman pointing finger at mirror

This might sting, but the truth is that you probably face limitations regarding what you can do with your career.

The basic requirements to become an astronaut, for example, are extremely strict. And it’s possible that you don’t have the skills or even the drive to explore that career path.

Instead of getting bummed out that you probably will never set foot on Mars, set realistic goals and take measured steps to get to where you want to be.

My dream job won’t feel like work at all

fizkes/Adobe cheerful woman using laptop

Your “dream job” might not feel like work — at least at first. But over time, every job has highs and lows. There will be things you like about the job and things you don’t.

Work is work. Loving your job is a big plus, but it’s unlikely that you will constantly feel like your job is not work at all.

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Passion is the most important thing

Odua Images/Adobe excited man using computer

Passion is a wonderful thing. It is part of what keeps us going. Unfortunately, it will not put food on the table.

Balancing passion and practicality in career choices is a challenge. Start by seeing if there is a market for the skills you are passionate about. If so, develop a plan to turn those skills into a career.

Getting paid to do what you love sometimes takes time. Don’t be afraid to start with a fulfilling but sustainable career choice and let your career evolve from there.

I have to give up my passion for my career

Viacheslav Yakobchuk/Adobe employees working together using laptop

You do not have to give up a passion or hobby in favor of your career. You can balance the things you love with your career.

In fact, having hobbies, passions, and even fulfilling side gigs outside your career is an excellent way to maintain your emotional and mental health.

Bottom line

Freedomz/Adobe business men having interview with candidate

Myths can hold you back from making career choices that truly benefit you. Being more realistic helps you make decisions that can lead to fulfilling jobs that help you move beyond living paycheck to paycheck.

Do not let myths get in your way of developing a deeply satisfying career path.

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Author Details

Will Vitka

Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.