Four Career Directions

Some people dream of being an astronaut when they grow up. Others see themselves as a doctor in medicine. Many may have thought about sports or politics. Let’s simplify it all so we can see clearly. What are the four roads you can take towards career success?

Working versus Not Working

I am misusing the term career. I am not really talking about career so much as I am talking about how you go about having a job. Jobs seem to be in decline as technology automates more things; positions get reorganized to less costly locales; and industries change so that there are fewer positions in those industries compared to in times past. So I thought about it and see 4 paths to keeping engaged in the economy. Basically, how to keep working if you are capable, willing, and externally unhindered.

More Options Available

My perspective is limited to what I have observed. In other parts of the world or in a range of circumstances, there could be other ways to thrive, prosper or, at least, sustain living. What I present here is specific and based on reality.

4 Paths Outlined

You can have a job generally and be involved in the economy if you apply yourself in one of 4 basic directions. You can be involved in more than one of these directions, but most of us will not be. The 4 directions are presented from lower-income to higher income.

  1. Specialization
  2. Government
  3. Entrepreneurship
  4. High Finance

I have excluded inheritances, subsidized living or anything in which economic activity is passive. The 4 paths just presented are those things that generally require active effort on behalf of the participants in those areas. These are the 4 most common ways to stay engaged in economic activity and sustain a life in the United States. Let’s discuss them real briefly.


You have a skill, talent, education, or specific set of ready-to-apply knowledge. You provide these things to others in exchange for direct or indirect resources to sustain living (needs and wants). Specialization is the first level at which to participate in economic activity. Sometimes you have to switch specializations. That is, you have to acquire the skills, education, or cultivate the ready-to-apply knowledge necessary to engage with the structured, productive activities that are available.


Work of this kind may exist at a higher level. It may generally come with wider options for the individual to have a healthy and productive living experience while serving others. Government membership may come with a stronger commitment to the individual in terms of retaining individuals long-term as part of the government enterprise which can prove beneficial to those persons. As such, it can be a fundamental part of triggering and sustaining economic activity.


This is economic activity. Start a business or start and operate an organization that receives resources for the work that organization does coincident to the goods and/or services that organization provides. The risks are higher but the outcomes can serve a much better and durable good. It is a choice to start a business or organization. Specialization can transform into entrepreneurship. People that know or do a specific thing or things can apply those things themselves in a way that allows them to provide the specific thing or things they do in a much better way that benefits others.

Do a Google search for Ed Hess at Dartmouth. He has great ideas and knowledge about entrepreneurship. By the way, I like Mark Cuban’s advice that in many cases you should use your own money to start a business. Don’t do loans unless you are well on your way or you have a particular reason for using those loans besides having an easy cushion.

High Finance

Investment bankers run the world. At least in well established economies. They provide access to the resources small entrepreneurs can use to broaden out their efforts. Yet, I am not really talking about investments. People have the option of becoming part of the investment class and, through good decisions, reaping huge rewards. This is one of the riskiest economic activities, but if you are properly educated, informed, thoughtful, have the right common sense, and take appropriate precautions, you can see yourself to a very good outcome.

Make Your Future If You Can

Sometimes jobs are not available. Sometimes no one is going to hire you where you live. Sometimes, despite countless hours, days, and months, the answer is no. You have to make a change. You have to make a choice. I took a sales job when I could not find work in my normal profession and ended up liking and learning a lot from the sales position. At other times, you have to be willing to move to another part of land you live to get closer to jobs. Sometimes, you have to set aside your pride and live with your parents or become temporarily dependent on others in order to transition to a more stable state of existence.

Survival is part of the story and there are options such as the ones presented above. At other times though, you know in your gut that the course you are on is not sustainable. It is not going to last. We have outgrown our situations even though, externally, we look the same. That may mean, that for your own good, long-term peace, drive to advance, and ultimate integrity, you must depart what you have (or don’t have) for what could be even if that course ultimately proves folly. Many of us are born to try.


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