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Your Main Job Is Discovering Who You Are—My Career Story

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Is picking the wrong field of study the end of the world? How to prepare yourself mentally for a career change? And why is Marcus Aurelius the best career expert ever? Read on to find out!

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Not In Love With Law

Imagine being with someone for 6 years only to find out one day that it was a mistake right from the start. Well, this is the story of me and my career in law. The moment I found out that the two of us weren’t made for each other was when things became really serious—I started working at a law firm.

Sorry, my law, it’s not you, it’s me…

You may ask why I didn’t quit law school earlier. You know, it was simply one of those situationships that are not bad enough just to end but are good enough to continue. I was effortlessly receiving good grades, and many subjects genuinely interested me. 

I had a soft spot, especially for philosophy and aviation law. For a brief moment, I even thought that aviation law was what would let me smoothly take off into a career in law. So I did a postgraduate degree in aviation law only to find out what I really liked were…planes.

So once that became plane… I mean, plain and simple, did it mean that all these years spent studying and working in law were for nothing?

a funny meme about how it is not fun to study law

Fortunately, I can’t relate to the meme above. If I hadn’t decided to study law, I’d have never met my best friend! Plus, knowing how the law works makes everyday life easier. Not to mention that even my time working at that law firm had brighter moments. I liked chatting with my boss about life and philosophy, plus my coworkers were nice, too. Even the darkest clouds have silver linings, right?

All in all, my law story proves that even the not-so-good career moves offer you value that you can benefit from. I’ve learned one important lesson: until you know who you are, finding the best career for you can be quite tricky.

So, if you picked the wrong major and ended up desiring a totally unrelated career, don’t feel bad. After all, your brain doesn’t finish maturing and developing until your mid to late twenties. Plus, your prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making skills, making plans, and choosing priorities, is one of the last parts to mature!

Let these words of Theodore Roosevelt comfort you:

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Life’s Too Short to Work at a Job You Don’t Like

So, I finally gave up on law (not love ;)). Once I did, many people told me that quitting a law career was a really brave move after all these years I’ve invested in studying what is often viewed as one of the most difficult domains.

For me, it wasn’t about courage—it was about not wasting my precious time in this life. Maybe it was even about survival, since working at a law firm, I sometimes felt like I was trapped. There was simply not enough space for creativity in this line of work.

But leaving your career behind can be especially tricky if it pays well or if your professional title is viewed by society as something precious and prestigious. It can also be difficult if your childhood dream job is not what you’ve thought it would be. So, how can you motivate yourself to make such a big change?

For starters, you can read “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware, who, when working as a terminal caregiver, had plenty of opportunities to hear first-hand what people truly regret at the end of their lives.

You can also try to imagine what will happen if you stay at a job you don’t like for another 5, 10, or 15 years. Hint: it won’t be fun.

Expert Tip: As a career expert, I firmly believe that you shouldn’t stay at a job you don’t like just because you’ve invested time and money. It’s always better to do what’s in your power to change careers, than spend the rest of your regretting that you haven’t even tried.

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When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and our resume checker will tell you exactly how to make it better.

What a Roman Emperor Can Teach You About Career Development and Life?

Before we travel back in time to ancient Rome, let’s embark on a much shorter time travel—to the next plot twist of my career.

After saying goodbye to law, I went full-time into copywriting, which I had already dabbled in during university. Finally, I could do what I love, work remotely, and get quality sleep every night. But before I finally found a perfect career for me, I worked for a bit at an IT startup. I even tried learning Python, but I quickly realized IT wasn’t IT for me either.

Looking back on my career now, I can see how intricately its development was connected to my personal development. Once I started believing in myself and gained more control over my impostor syndrome, I managed to sign bigger clients, and my career sped up like never before. 

Yes, I believe that the most important job you’ll ever have is discovering who you are and trusting the process.

But—it can be even more difficult if you’re a Renaissance man, aka a generalist. However, according to David Epstein in his bestselling book “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”, it’s people with diverse interests who are more likely to succeed, although they do find their path later in life.

That’s why I’m confident that investing in yourself, your passions and your mindset is the best career advice I could ever give you.

Plus, one of my biggest sources of inspiration, Marcus Aurelius, seems to agree:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Marcus Aurelius was not only a Roman emperor but also a Stoic philosopher. And believe me when I tell you: implementic the wisdom of the Stoics in your life really does make it easier. Quite recently, I had a perfect opportunity to test it again—this time during the Certified Professional Résumé Writer Exam.

Taking an exam verifying your qualifications is a circumstance that can induce stress. But, keeping a healthy, Stoic distance towards what’s happening around you has, in my experience, always significantly increased the chances of events going your way.

So yes, I wrote a perfect resume and a killer cover letter, and I passed the exam with flying colors. My secret? Instead of stressing about the result, I simply focused on the task, entered the flow state, and gave my all.

I was so satisfied with my creation that I shamelessly boasted about it to my close friends and family. Many of them told me I’ll have to write their resumes the next time they search for a new job. Well, such a scenario has already become my colleague’s experience. Maciej has written 3 tailored resumes for his wife, and lo and behold, each resume resulted in her being offered a job!

But, taking a holistic approach to intentionally shaping your career is not only about making an excellent resume. It’s also about believing in yourself and not being afraid to discover and follow your dreams. Gaining control over your mind and ego will make all the other career advice work even better! I recommend you start a meditation practice—I’m an avid meditator myself!

Meditation will help you a lot, also in terms of crafting a strategy on how to handle stress and pressure before a job interview. If you need a really good one, look no further than another bit of wisdom from my favorite Stoic:

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it, and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

And remember:

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Yup, I wasn’t kidding about having a soft spot for philosophy! If you’re like me, you can read more words of wisdom in Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations.”

What I Can Teach You About Changing Careers

Do you feel like you need a new beginning in your professional life? 

Moving on to a different career can be exciting but also pretty daunting. That’s why I’ve prepared some tips that will make embarking on a new career path much easier for you:

So now, you can go ahead and write that career-change resume!

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you and your career, and in case you’d like to read some of my career advice articles, check these out:

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Thanks for reading my article and bearing with all the puns! If you’d like to know more about me or what I’ve learned over the years of my career development, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below!

About Zety’s Editorial Process

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team to make sure it follows Zety's editorial guidelines. We’re committed to sharing our expertise and giving you trustworthy career advice tailored to your needs. High-quality content is what brings over 40 million readers to our site every year. But we don't stop there. Our team conducts original research to understand the job market better, and we pride ourselves on being quoted by top universities and prime media outlets from around the world.

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Danuta Detyna, CPRW
Danuta Detyna is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and career advisor writer who specializes in everything related to crafting resumes and cover letters. She has extensive experience in the field and is dedicated to providing practical and effective advice to help you advance your career. Drawing on her legal background, she places great emphasis on thorough research and accuracy when creating career guidance articles. Her ultimate goal is to equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to achieve greater professional satisfaction.
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