Ask Ethan #68: Choosing your (professional) life (Synopsis)

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” -Wayne Dyer

We all can think back to that moment that happened where we knew our lives would be forever different, right? To that one moment in our past where we suddenly knew what it was that we wanted to be, what we wanted to do, what that special career move defining us would wind up becoming.

Image credit: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 1 Episode 23. Image credit: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 1 Episode 23.

You know, that moment where you figure out what your special talent/passion is.

Only, that isn't how real life works! It's actually a harmful fiction, and it's why the question I got for this week's Ask Ethan:

I’m not really good at astronomy or stuff though I love reading about it. But my question would be, what made you to decide that it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life? Is it because of you got awestruck by a wonderful night sky?

desperately needs an honest answer.

Image credit: IronRodArt — Royce Bair (“Star Shooter”), via flickr at Image credit: IronRodArt — Royce Bair (“Star Shooter”), via flickr at

Go read the whole story.


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My passion was music.

My talent was math.

I ended up a programmer and miserable until i retired and went back to music.

Now i'm poor but happy plunking strings and warbling wails.


By The Peak Oil Poet (not verified) on 26 Dec 2014 #permalink

Growing up I wanted to be a scientist....a physicist....went to college....switched to psychology.....dropped out.....went back and got an engineering degree....became a computer I'm a's all good!

By Kenny A. Chaffin (not verified) on 26 Dec 2014 #permalink

I had been hooked in seventh grade reading a book called "Music of the Spheres" about astro. Later one Fred Hoyles descriptitions of stellar evolution and modeling, I wanted to model stars.

And high school phsyics, told me I had something special, for a lifelong physics teacher I was his once-in-a-lifetime superstudent. But I went to a midwestern state University, which allowed a talented student to blast through in three years (If I had it to do over again, I'd take five -so as to be super prepared in applied math. That underpreparation and personality issues meant that my my grad student career could best be described as a trainwreck.

I did end up with a very successful career in supercomputing however. In many ways one's career is a random walk through not very predictable opportunities. But I occasionally miss not having become an astrophysicist.

By Omega Centauri (not verified) on 27 Dec 2014 #permalink

During high school, I became acutely aware of three things that should form no part of my future career. Little did I know that my chosen career path would lead me to combine all three in my work. People can become very good at doing things that they initially dislike or have no interest in. Self-motivation was the key to my success, not choosing the 'right' career.

Every job, even a hobby, will include tasks that we do not enjoy performing. How we feel about our work depends on our outlook: whether our work is our passion or we have passion for our work. The former outlook perhaps corresponds to having an external locus of control; the latter outlook corresponds to having an internal locus of control. I learnt the hard way that it was better for me to change my locus of control than to change my career.