4 Reasons People Don’t Follow Their Career Dreams

Most of us work for a living. Unless of course, you’re the recipient of a large sum of money, you probably get up in the morning, shower, get dressed and get going. Maybe you work from home and commute from the kitchen to the office in a few steps. For others, the morning commute can be an hour or more fighting traffic and honking car horns.

Either way, we work because we have to pay our bills and we have responsibilities that require money. But why do we do what we do? Have we all followed our passions by pursuing the career choice of our dreams? No. Well why not?

For a large majority of us, our choice in careers was based on more than just one thing. In fact, there are several very good reasons why people choose to do what they do and often, passion falls to the bottom of the list. Here are just a few reasons why people don’t follow their career dreams that might surprise you:


Believe it or not, lots of people simply choose to avoid following a career choice because it requires them to leave a comfort zone. There are those of us who thrive on change and risk-taking, but the majority of people prefer safety as an alternative to uncertainty. Leaving a comfort zone can be dauntingand a big reason why people choose to play it safe. After all, with reality television and cinema, it’s easier to live out dreams vicariously through others with a large bucket of popcorn and a large soda snuggled safely on our lap.

Cultural Expectations

Cultural expectations play a role in discouraging people from following their dreams. Whether it’s familial or societal, the expectations placed on people tend to decrease “out of the box” decision making when it comes to choosing a career. In other words, if you’ve made it through the rigorous educational requirements to earn a law degree, it’s simply expected that you would pursue a career in law. Good luck to the recent law school grad who tries to convince a parent that his true aspiration is to cook, or the star athlete who dreams of becoming a celebrity hairstylist. Sometimes it’s not culturally acceptable to pursue a certain occupation. In Eastern cultures, children are often groomed from a very young age to pursue certain jobs. Going against family and societal expectations is discouraged and can have grave consequences.

Stability and Family Concerns

Some people find themselves at a point in their lives where it’s just not a smart strategy to take financial risks. Whether it’s a mortgage that must be paid, small children and a family that depend on a secure source of income or other responsibilities, dreams take a back seat to reality. In cases like this, the risk involved in leaving a steady job to pursue something that isn’t guaranteed is not worth taking. Often, even lateral moves within the same career require a tremendous amount of forethought.

Generational Mores

Baby boomers are a perfect example of how a generational more can influence career decisions. Many folks who are now reaching senior status (age 65 or older) come from a time when jobs were not readily available. They were lucky to get one and wouldn’t dare do anything to jeopardize keeping it. In a way, this is commendable and the work ethic is stellar. But as far as curbing risk taking and diminishing entrepreneurial spirit, the baby boomer generation wins the prize- in some respects. There are certainly many from that generation who have taken risks and been quite successful. But as a rule, the tendency was to work without complaining and be happy to have a job at all.

The newer generation is more willing to flit about from job to job, seeking the perfect fit. They are willing to take a demotion, even a pay decrease in pursuit of happiness and career satisfaction. When it comes to pursuing a dream job, the right choice is the one you make- and the one that makes you happy.

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