The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Career Choice

Some tips on how to decide between several careers.























(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio) 

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Female:           This is the third time this year that you�ve been sent to the office. We need to find a better outlet.

Male:               Maybe we could if you�d let me go out for sports.

Female:           Honey, you know why we can�t do that.

Male:               But I promise I�ll slow up. I�ll only be the best by a tiny bit.

Female:           You are an incredibly competitive boy and a bit of a show off.

Male:               You always say, �Do your best,� but you don�t really mean it. Why can�t do I do the best I can do? Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of. Our powers made us special.

Female:           Everyone is special Dash.

Male:               Which is another way of saying no one is.


Dr. Kenner:      And Dash is right � that�s from The Incredibles. And when everyone is special, no one is. And that whole movement of, �Oh, all my children are the same or all my students are the same or all my employees are the same,� is a lie. A total lie. Because we all differentiate. You�ve got three kids. You ask them if they�ll rake the leaves, that�s their chore and they get some money for doing it. One of the kids rakes the leaves beautifully and comes up with a new method, maybe learns how to use a leaf blower. Another kid is adequate, he rakes them and does a good job, and the third one does nothing and runs around and jumps in the other kids� piles, messes up the leaves again so the kids have to do it again. Who do you reward? Do you say, �Oh, you�re all equal and I have $6 and we�ll give you each $2.� That is a total injustice. So do you give one child $4, the other child $2, the one that did the most $4 and the other one $2 so he can learn to do things better, maybe learn from his brother or sister, and then third one gets nothing. Maybe gets penalized. Maybe has to forgo something of his own. You need to judge. You need to judge people and we�ll be talking about that coming up in the next segment, with Dr. Andy Bernstein. So stay tuned for that.


Right now, I have a quick comment, right before the break we spoke with Mike whose son had some incestuous material on his computer, or his Playstation mobile device, and what do you do about that? He�s 16-years-old. You need to actually bring your son in and figure out what�s going on. Let him talk. He is going to be mortified and embarrassed or he may be defiant � how dare you look at my computer � but that�s really just covering up the fact that it is very embarrassing material and stuff that he should feel embarrassment about. You ask him, �Tell me what�s going on. This is what we found. This is why we found it, and tell me what�s going on.� He may say, �How dare you do it?� and you say, �That�s not the topic right now. Give it some thought. Tonight I would like to talk about or right after dinner we�re going to sit down and talk about what�s going on. Just be direct with us. Mom and I are very concerned about this.� And you need to then figure out, you don�t want to ruin his sex drive for life, so you say that it�s important that you�re feeling these feelings. You want it to be age appropriate and you obviously don�t want to rush into things and that�s a whole other show.


I�m Dr. Ellen Kenner and my show is The Rational Basis of Happiness. I�m a clinical psychologist. You can give me your calls with any questions you have concerning yourself, your kids. My number is toll-free, 1-877-DR-KENNER.


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Male:               I just never got in for that psychological mumbo-jumbo.


Dr. Kenner:      Here�s a question I received from Brian about having a purpose in life, a central purpose. �Hi Dr. Kenner. I never have enough time for all I want to do. I have many interests and projects but I don�t feel that I have a keenly focused life. I don�t have a central purpose in my life. So when I need to make decisions on how to spend my time or my resources or my energy or my money, I feel like I don�t make the best decision. My life feels somewhat scattered rather than aimed in a focused direction. I don�t have time for everything. How do I identify what I love most in life? How do I identify a central purpose in my life? I want to make sure that I don�t just choose something just based on gut feelings. Naming what I want most would help me to make the hard choices of how best to spend my time.� Then he has two questions � �What methods are there for discovering and stating explicitly what you love in life, a central purpose?� This means a career. �What happens if I shift my purpose as I gain more knowledge or as a major life change occurs.� You�d use the same methods or similar methods.


Let me go through the methods. When you�re trying to find out, �What do I want to do with my life? How do I want to spend my life?� Many people just look at the range of the moment and they say, �Oh, you know what? There�s a job down at the grocery store. Maybe I�ll get that. Or Dad�s got this business and I don�t like it, but you know what? I�ll go into it.� This is your life! Those types of decisions, unless you�re desperate for money or there�s some extenuating circumstances, if you have the option to look at alternatives and to find out what you love in life, go for it! 


So how do you do that? You want to start tracking, what do I like in life? What have I ever liked in life. If I had another life to live over again � I love ideas � so I�d probably go do the same thing I�m doing now, which is a good signal. But I love rational ideas. I love promoting those. But I also love dance. I love dance and I would have taken more dance as a young kid. I can�t do that now, but I can enjoy dance now. But dance is secondary to my career. So my central purpose is that I�m a psychologist and I have things that integrate around that � a practice and a talk show and a book. So things coordinate. That�s integration. That�s what you want in your life. 


So Brian, you want to ask yourself, what do you love in life? What�s your current career? Are you in the ballpark? If you�re doing something, let�s say that you love journalism and you�ve always loved journalism but you also love skiing and you would love to own your own ski resort and have a business at the ski resort, those are going to be hard to meld. Some careers are easier to meld. You�re going to try to figure out which do I love most? One of the hard lessons I�ve learned in life is, I, Ellen, can�t have all my values. I can�t spend all my time dancing. I can�t spend all my time writing a book. I can�t spend all my time with my hubby or my kids. You want to get what is almost trite nowadays, a balance, but that�s true. But the central purpose is the key career focus that you�ll have or if you�re in retirement, your career hobby, your career interest that you have. Interest is more accurate there. So, number one, list all the things you enjoy doing or have ever enjoyed doing and still are candidates. And it may only be a list of five things, or it may be a list of 20 things.


Then ask yourself a series of questions � what has held my interest over the years? All of us have been in activities that we like at some point in our life. Maybe I liked bowling once and I don�t like bowling now, but it changes. I wouldn�t want to own a bowling alley. What do you like best about each of these activities? Identify the component parts, the factors, in each of the activities that you enjoy. I like dance because emotionally it�s so incredibly liberating and you can get to express all sorts of emotions from an elegant Viennese waltz to a tango, an angry tango, to a fun cha-cha, sexy cha-cha, or a playful swing. So I know what I like. You want to be able � I�m talking about a hobby now � but if you�re talking about your career, you want that same ability to name what do I like in this? 


What are the difficulties? If the difficulties are that you need to know statistics and you don�t like statistics, maybe that isn�t the career for you. Ask yourself questions like, �Under what conditions do I like to work? Do I like to work under deadlines?� If you do, journalism may be a good career for you. If you like journalism. Would you prefer administrative work? Do you like working alone or with other people? There are lots of wonderful questions to ask. What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? And you want to think long-range. What would be a career that I could enjoy, not only in the short-range building it, but long-range too? What brings me satisfaction?


The next step is to get experience. You want to talk with people who are in the careers, possibly do some volunteer work. I volunteered at a psychiatric hospital to get some experience to become a psychologist. Maybe part-time work in that career. You want to narrow it down. You want to find out what type of training you need and you want to make sure that you�re willing to put in the effort for the long range. There is a resource, the Occupational Guides, in the library. Used to be Occupational Outlook Handbook that still may exist. I wish you a lot of success with that. A central purpose is your career. It is the main purpose. Everything else is secondary. You don�t feel good about yourself if you�re married with kids and you have no job or career. I mean, in a temporary situation that�s fine, but if you�re doing that for life, that doesn�t work.