Projective exaggeration – A career mirage?

If I were to take you back to your childhood days, do you remember watching that one character on TV or in a movie and wanting to be just like him or her? As a child, my first thought of ambition was to be a pilot. This was in the late ’90s, and I was truly inspired by Top Gun’s Lt Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and his charisma. Little did I know that eighteen years down the line, I would be managing assets as part of a private bank.

It is of utmost importance to understand the psyche of families nowadays.
Take for example your parents; your dad comes home late at night, excited about something he heard during the day at his seminar. He meets his son at home and discusses his day with him, “Artificial Intelligence and Fin-tech is the future, my son” he says. Fourteen-year-old Jared is amused by these fascinating phrases and wants to know more, with his dad giving him a brief explanation accompanied by examples about payments and suggestive applications on his own phone. He also mentions as to how several people working within this domain are very successful and extremely rich.

Fourteen-year-old Jared pauses his work and tries to understand these complicated and captivating domains as he is met by several news articles and websites, trumpeting the success stories of various ideas and associated individuals who have made a living out of this space.
An opinion begins to form in his mind and he chooses to pursue these domains, albeit with an incomplete understanding of the realities of this industry.

Similarly, majority of millennials quickly form opinions about prospective career paths at a very early stage, falling into what we could refer to as a “career mirage”.

What are the effects of a career mirage?

  • Personally, I feel that it leads to tunneled vision, analogous to glaucoma when choosing future career paths. This is a direct consequence resulting from a lack of exploration of the various options and industries. Only 30% of global workers earn a living from their childhood dream job or related field.
  • Unhappy employees – A major percentage of unhappy employees aren’t necessarily unhappy because of their working environment, but also because they didn’t choose to pursue what they love to pursue, or alternatively, could not figure where their passions lie. Apparently work is a source of frustration rather than fulfillment for 90% of the world’s workers.
  • You may form a strong belief in the projective exaggeration of your current or future career, which means that people will start to believe that their career paths are far more satisfactory and superior than they really are, especially in comparison to divergent career paths and industries.
  • It may cause a stagnating career curve during the twilight years of your career, a causal effect of being straitjacketed by the market, due to a lack of career growth and diversity over the years. Wages for 40+-year-old remain stagnant unless induced effort/skill causes daily wages to rise.

In recent times, with career trends changing faster than ever, young individuals and experienced employees alike, have started succumbing to the trap. Education systems and university bodies should aim to help students explore diverse industries, take informed career decisions that are based on active practical experience. They should look forward to being more resilient towards preconceived perceptions about career choices based on trends, remuneration and other factors.

Needless to say, an informed and researched career choice could lead you from falling for a career mirage to discovering an oasis of relevant career opportunities.

Painting by Michael Corr


Link for the first point

link for the second point

link for 4th point


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