TED Conversations

Wesley McCabe

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If you could have done any other career what would it have been?

After college many people get a job and stick with that specific genre of life.

Yet many people find their true bliss after they already have a degree and a family.

So now that I have asked you what else you wish you could have done what is it?

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    Jan 12 2012: Currently, I love Web Design and plan on sticking with it as long as possible, but I also enjoy Sociology. I really enjoy studying it and using it to help people see societal problems differently.
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    Jan 11 2012: Since I had no vocation when young, but did have a strong work ethic, I tried out several sectors during weekend and holiday work while at school and college (catering, retail, tourism). After college I went into banking in the mid 1980's - lasted five years before I realised I was a "round peg in a square hole". Got out by taking a gap year to travel. Returned to university and qualified as an ecologist before working in protected landscapes for ten years. SHOCK HORROR - Experience workplace bullying by a Director. This can happen to anyone at any time in their career. I got ill and took out grievances. Won my cases - got paid off. Got very angry. Joined IAWBH (International Association Workplace Bullying and Harassment). Got bored with my self-pity. Had some therapy - got a bit better. Got a dog and an allotment - got a lot better. I'm now a beekeeper. Really happy. Life is odd but wonderful - I can now thank that bully as I'm now living a much more sustainable and interesting life - and I love being self-employed. What I'm trying to relay to you is that your working life is just as unpredictable as any other aspect of your life... Good luck
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    Jan 11 2012: Laywer or mechanical engineer on free standing space structures.
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    Jan 13 2012: i love the water and the beach id have made an attempt at being a Marine Bioligist
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    Jan 13 2012: People today DON'T stick with one career field for life. My parents did - my mother worked for the same company for 35 years. My dad for 20 years - even though he technically was a freelancer and 'owned his own business'.

    That's the past. One thing that people will tell you today is that careers are not linear. You'll do one thing for several years then migrate to something else. The reality is that your college major or even graduate degree really are not that relevant ten years out.

    Degrees are important - but all they say is that you can show up more or less for four years, warm a chair, and keep a desk from flying off into space. But degrees do open doors and employers look for degrees when making hiring decisions.

    If I could do any other career - why is the question hypothetical? I CAN do any other career. Now that I am out of school, its up to me to make that leap and chart my own course.

    My own story - I finished grad school at 22 with a Masters in Health. Worked in Public Health for two years and hated being underpaid and under appreciated. Decided to switch to Healthcare Consulting. Hated being overpaid and under appreciated. I was not playing to my strengths and after five years had the courage to quit.

    I took two suitcases and a one way ticket to Hamburg, Germany to teach English and found that I loved to teach and I was really good at it. A year later, I moved to Copenhagen, Denmark and earned a Coaching certificate. I just started working in Social Media full time in Europe.

    Where is all of this leading? I don't know. Its like weaving a tapestry. As you put in each stitch, you can't really see what you are making. Only after weaving for a few years, you can look at your creation and say, "wow, I am making something great!"
  • Jan 13 2012: I think a more pivotal question is: Would you still do it even if you don't get paid?
    That's what really assesses your true incentive.
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    Jan 12 2012: If I could have done any other career, I would be doing exactly what I do now, which is physical rehabilitation.
    • Jan 13 2012: Two thumbs up! :)
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        Jan 13 2012: Thank you Tishe. There is nothing like it. Human beings are amazing and beautiful!!
        • Jan 13 2012: Yep Jullette, some humans are amazing and beautiful! Wesley has a good question! You are contributing to human kind! You are a good human! You are doing, what you want. It is important! :)
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        Jan 13 2012: Great Q!!

        I definitely recommend completing this before you start having children. You will save much unnecessary grief in the world.

        Do a number of things that intrigue you. Keep in mind there is a learning curve. Also keep in mind anything that is worth something takes effort. Then focus your energy on the subject in which you flow. When you find what you love to do and focus on doing that, you will find yourself with amazing and beautiful people.

        When you find yourself amidst the aggressive, hostile, adversary, or beating someone or yourself, you should stop and ask yourself, Is this what I love to be doing. Is this what I truly want to be?? Is this who I am?? That is when you need to go deep inside yourself and find your own truth.

        When your being and your doing match, you are at your best self. That is bliss.
        • Jan 14 2012: Wow! Good question and good answers! Soooo, Wesley, what say you? :)
  • Jan 12 2012: Hi Wesley! My career, is to keep living. IF, I could wish for another one, it would be to help abused children. That would be bliss! Some how, some way. :)
  • Jan 11 2012: I am a teacher who has lived in Kenya and travels to Africa every year. I would like to study 'development' and work in projects in the developing world.
  • Jan 11 2012: Full-length feature film maker.
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    Jan 11 2012: One thing I wish I had done is to spend several years in the Peace Corps. But had I done that, there are other opportunities I would have needed to forego that I then would have regretted not doing.
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    Jan 15 2012: Hi Wesley,
    I'd do the same thing (teaching) and everything else as a hobby. :D
    I can't limit myself and have just 1 career ... at the moment I'm trying out photography, writing and I'm studying children's psychology. Where am I going? I don't know but I'm sure all this will get me where I want to be: happy. :)
    • Jan 16 2012: Hi Silvia, I am thinking, if you are passionate about children? All three things, will come together! ( does that make sense?) :)
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        Jan 16 2012: Yes, it makes sense ... whoever wants can try and make things happen. :)
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    Jan 14 2012: I'm still studying to become a mechanical engineer, so I guess this question is not directly aimed at me.

    So although I don't necessarily regret not having studied it, medicine is something I find very interesting and challenging.
    In school I chose physics over biology ultimately because it meant learning a lot less by heart.
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    Jan 14 2012: Hi
    Time after time I ask to my self: what Im do now and love I do it? If I answer to myself - NO, I start to think what to do further and I start to search for a new way for self-realization. It is very heavy, sometimes on it leaves about several months.
    I'm from Russian and I see right now that such kind of question arises not only at me and my acquaintances, in my city, my country, but even it is far for some thousand kilometers on other continent at people with other culture.

    I'm working on my speciality for 6 years. After three years I have understood that it not to be pleasant to me and I have started to search for that could be to me interesting that I would like to do. I'm was 26 years old at that moment and I stiil don't know what to do what is my interest???
    As one Russian proverb speaks: "Under a lying stone - water doesn't flow! So, In parallel with my work I have started to go on different courses in search of myself. I have studied: the web-design, has gone to learn English, I study search engine optimization at home. I have started travel in Europe studying culture of these countries and people. I spent for all it all my money and time and whether I have been assured correctly what I do.
    And once, I have understood that to be pleasant to me: English language, programming and travel. After that II try to connect all these directions in a single whole.
    Casually, I have told about it to my schoolmate who lives 4 years in New York. On what she has told to me: well, it is great that you learn English, practise language further, learn Java programming and come to New York or Canada. It will connect all your interests which you have already found: English language, programming and travel. And your life will turn over!!! I have started to search where I could learn Java programming and practise the English!
    So I'm here and I practice right now.

    And I want to tell that always it is necessary to move forward and sometime you will find yourself!
    Good luck!
  • Jan 13 2012: Wesley I abide to the idea that "careers" as we knew them are not anymore. Except those such as medicine, lawyer, accountant. But so many others are kind of changing. More like learning key abilities (math helps a lot, as well as languages and project management).You ask a personal point of view...my self... I am self-trained, they kicked me out of school.. shhhh now run a small company and even gave a lecture to Scientific Community in my country... shhh don't tell them!
  • Jan 13 2012: Health and safety officer. Unsafe work places should not exist.
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    Jan 13 2012: I would have studied diplomacy. Representing my country in different cultures and negotiating with other nations was my calling.
    • Jan 16 2012: That is pretty cool, Mr. Cangas, totally admirable! I mean that!
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    Jan 12 2012: One thing I wished for when I was younger and was starting out my career was for someone to listen to me. I had any friends growing up but they were all busy with their own lives. I think now I would like to travel the world and lend my ear to people that just need someone to listen to them talk about their pain or what ails them. I was in Lebanon a couple months ago and I was at a bus stop. There was this old man that started talking to me. even tho I didn't know what he was saying I could tell all he wanted was someone to listen to him speak. I think we both learned a lot after I got on that bus.
    • Jan 13 2012: Lorenzo, I am of the same mind as you. People want someone to listen to them, to their thoughts and ideas and to their stories, to who they are and who they were and who they might become.
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    Jan 12 2012: Hello from Oregon as well!

    I'm still working on my career: being my own boss, producing/performing music, and helping others! (It's more of a nights and weekends gig right now)
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    Jan 12 2012: space globalization activist
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    Jan 12 2012: I would become a barrister (a.k.a. courtroom advocate).
  • Jan 11 2012: I studied bussines administration, but I realy love graphic desing or photography. There´s so little about my country recorded or preserved in audiovisual media. I hope some day to have the time to do some of this.
  • Jan 11 2012: Either of:
    Tissue and organ engineering
    Computer engineering
    Software engineering
    Illustration artist
    Science reporter
    ...
    :)
  • Jan 11 2012: I'm fairly early in my career life so hope to take advantage of time and experimentation (and multitaskting) to experience multiple careers in my lifetime. So far, I've done corporate marketing, taught community art classes, run a photo portrait business, and made custom art for clients. I hope to be an athletic coach of some sort (I was an avid runner, before having babies - hope to pick that back up in the future) and run a community center focused on creativity, outdoors, athletic activities, or something along those lines. I also hope to own a restaurant or some kind of business that is a local gathering spot at some point.
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    Jan 15 2012: I think the danger can sometimes be that we identify our selves with the vain glory that a certain job title gives us.

    We work for money to aid our quality of life. Intelligence also says that if we learn and study and attain our hearts fulfillment through achieving a certain goal, this also is to our credit and hard work and it also assist others inevitably.

    But in the end we can only imagine what we might otherwise have done in our working lives.

    In my own case, I would have sort more education in my early years, but the ignorance of youth took over and I drifted a while. I am now happy in my present job of eight years, nearing my retirement keeps me happily ensconced without too much concern at this stage for seeking other job satisfaction.

    I recommend seeking an all rounded, balanced, and on going quality education, before worrying too much about what might have been.
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    Jan 14 2012: If a job is an activity that others pay you to do, then a career must be a series of jobs for which others pay you. I wonder what an activity or series of activities for which *no one* wants to pay you is called....

    Is refusing to accept money for what one does mean that the activity or activity stream (career) is a hobby? Is a person who spends his life doing hobbies involved in a career? If someone offers to pay someone doing a hobby, does the hobby then become a career (or if for a shorter time, a job)?

    I spend my time in Second Life doing things.... I don't get paid a linden for the things I do. In fact I spend real life money to stay in my adopted 'nation' (which exists only virtually in who knows how many servers...). Are the cool projects I do there jobs? (I commit to deadlines and work.... exploring alternatives). I have no idea! Some would frown at my lack of 'seriousness'. Some think I shouldn't do things if I'm not going to get paid.

    I'm a backpacker and maybe that influences me..... I've never been paid a dime for backpacking either. It would be really, really strange if someone were to pay me for the mile walked..... Even stranger would be having lots of pieces of paper called money in my backpack. I wouldn't be able to eat them (though perhaps they would be useful for starting fires....). It's kinda cool when you get someplace and offer the little scraps of paper to folks and they *do* give you food, though!

    I think it might be nice to (continue) to write short stories and give them away to friends in Second Life. Now that would be a cool career. And since I'd have to be paid for writing stories to have my writing fall into the category called 'job', maybe I could charge a linden each (that's about 1/250th of a dollar). Or I could skip the hassle and let my writing *not* be a career.

    I think I may start publicizing websites using Twitter... haven't done that yet. I don't think I'll charge, though..
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      Jan 15 2012: Yes hobby's can be careers and those normally make for the best employees because they actually love what they do. I think you should do things even if your not getting paid, life's not all about making money. lol i like your lack of care for money when your backpacking. You see money for what it really is rather than a treasure everyone wants. Being able to turn your hobby into something that does produce money can be fulfilling though. For instance you could be a guide for people who wish to have someone who knows the land with them when their in the woods. Or for instance if you really enjoy just being in nature you could work for a state park or something like that.
  • Jan 14 2012: Airline Pilot !! Currently I m a key account manager in telecom industry but it doesn't interest me anymore so i m gonna get a break and start over ;) I will study being a Pilot.
  • Jan 12 2012: Wesley, Thanks for the thumbs up. Another career I am still considering is crowning myself Empress of All Universes. I know I am qualified because I have a B.A. degree and a fine sense of humor, but I feel I need a bit more experience. Maybe in a week or 2. Also, I have not yet given up on my goal of making full-length feature films. Anything positive is possible I say repeatedly. I hope you get to realize all of your positive ambitions.