10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Careers

Did you dream of being a horseback rider when you were a child and now you are studying for your law degree? Or maybe your first job was working at the local grocery store and now you teach history at an inner city high school? The way we dream of careers, the ones we choose, how our work environment affects us, the jobs we love and the jobs we hate, all of these factors are aligned with our personalities. Career paths are rooted in:

  • where we grew up
  • the guardians who raised us
  • the courses we enjoyed as a young student
  • the decision to attend college or skip it
  • the jobs we tried but didn’t make us happy, etc. 

Whether you are dreaming of a career, studying for a career, working hard to succeed at your career, relocating your family for a new job opportunity, or utilizing your vacation days on a trip away, you are linking your career to your inner psychology. We all do this on a daily basis. The work force is directly tied to the inner workings of our brain, in more ways than one. Want to dig a little deeper? Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of careers.

Careers may be based on our personalities. 

Have you ever taken a personality test to see which career is best suited for you? If so, this point will come as no surprise. Many people’s careers are based on their personality traits. Job titles may be based on what brings us joy in our lives. For example, we may love making other people happy or we could love staying active. We may love having our mornings to ourselves for yoga and coffee or maybe we can wake up with the sun and are ready for the work day. Our personalities also determine the work hours that we prefer, the future goals that we may have, the type of lifestyle we may choose to live, etc. Some people’s personalities may also have them preferring a job that is disconnected from their personal life and stays at the work place. Some people enjoy the concept of clocking in and clocking out and living a very separate life from work. Everyone is different! 

Fitting your career to your personality may set you up for success.

As we mentioned, our career choices are commonly linked to who we are. The more our career matches who we are, the happier we can be in our day to day lives! Enjoying what we do is so important! While matching our career to our personality will satisfy our personal needs it will also improve work performance. Choosing the right career may keep us productive and motivated! If you ask someone who is successful in their career what keeps them going or what draws them to their job they may say “it satisfies me.” This makes perfect sense! 

With that being said, we all thrive in different work environments. For example, introverts and extroverts may spend their work days in very different settings. Work culture and morale is key! Fitting our personalities to our careers also improves our job performance, increases job satisfaction, and lets us use our strengths rather than our weaknesses. Finding a career that suites your personality can set you up for great success.

We may change careers are we grow and evolve. 

Did you have a dream career when you were a child? Maybe you were gifted a fireman’s costume at your fifth birthday party and that was it for you. Perhaps you played on a basketball team and you knew that one day you would go pro. For some people, they followed this dream and found success. Others try on many hats throughout our years. It is only natural to change careers as we grow and evolve as adults. Our desires and preferences change as we:

  • try out different professions
  • take new classes in school
  • make new friends
  • earn degrees
  • travel the world

Along with this, we may leave jobs that no longer work for us and find new opportunities. This could be for many reasons. We may need a new challenge, realize that your passion is somewhere else, we may not be happy anymore, we may have found new values for ourselves, etc. 

Careers affect all aspects of our lives. 

Career choice may greatly impact our lifestyle. When we choose a career, we are choosing a life that revolves around it. If your career choice requires a degree, earning said degree may be a big lifestyle commitment. Studying for a degree may require long hours, working another job to pay for the courses, and possibly relocating for your chosen school. While working in your chosen career, your lifestyle may change depending on what the career requires. This could mean:

  • relocating
  • working long hours
  • finding a routine that works for you
  • changing your eating habits
  • choosing the people you surround yourself with
  • finding ways to spend your free time, etc. 

Starting work at a young age can have psychological pros and cons.

Many people begin working when they’re adolescents. There are benefits and risks to this. Legally, most teenagers will be able to find employment when they are 15 or 16 years old. Until then, they may earn money by doing something less contractural – such as mowing lawns or babysitting. There are many benefits to earning money as a young adult. Teenagers may learn:

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  • the value of hard work
  • independence
  • financial skills
  • valuable work experiences
  • helpful networking contacts
  • good routine habits
  • how to manage their responsibilities

They may also find emotional maturity faster and have higher self esteem and confidence levels.  

However, working can also negatively affect teenagers. Working while in high school may leave teenagers with less time for their homework which can lead to lower grades. They may also have added stress in their lives, lower self esteem if they’re not succeeding at their job, negative views on what working is like, and more. 

Work can make it easier to make new friends.

Coworkers? Friends? What is the difference? For some people, there is no difference! For people who spend their day around coworkers, they may constantly be friends. For many people at work, they are surrounded by pleasant company. They also may very likely spend more time with them than they do anyone else! A career with a team of people provides a space to meet others with similar personalities, lifestyles, and passions. This may be why so many people instantly click and become close with their colleagues! 

Careers allow people to have routines. 

Psychologically speaking, routines are beneficial for us. Routines can instill confidence and boost energy levels. They can also allow us to prioritize what needs to be done and how we would like to spend our free time. Sticking to a routine has been proven to improve happiness levels for people of all ages. In the work force, this concept is no different! Most careers require employees to stick to a routine in order to achieve goals and hit deadlines. This ensures a smooth moving work environment with high success rates. Having a career with a stable routine may encourage someone to stick to a routine when they are outside of work as well. 

Salaries may keep us in jobs we don’t prefer.

At the end of the day, we work to earn an income. We study in school and we work hard so that we can earn money to live a healthy and happy life. Ideally, we would like our career to satisfy our personal wants and desires. However, we would also like to earn a lucrative income. For some people, this may lead to earning salaries in careers that they don’t necessarily care for. The psychological impact of a high paying job can very easily have someone sacrificing their passions for a salary. In the best situations, these careers are simply stepping stones or they are left behind when it is recognized that they do not mean true happiness. It may be safe to say that finding a job that makes us feel successful and happy while also financially supporting our chosen lifestyle is the ultimate goal. 

Some companies are practicing new work concepts.

The business platform is relatively simple and universal: work repeated and standard hours in order to be successful. However, modern offices across the world are challenging this concept. Some companies are practicing new office concepts by modernizing their work environment and schedule. The old normal of bright lights and small cubicles is being thrown out the window and offices are being built with an open floor plan, a fully stocked and healthy kitchen, and big windows. They are also allowing employees to work from home if they see fit, work a less demanding schedule, and require attendance at fewer meetings. The ultimate goal of a modern office like this is to increase work flow and success rates by increasing morale, freedom, and mental health. Seems pretty smart!

There are also many career options within psychology. 

Speaking of careers and psychology…there are many careers in the field of psychology. Someone interested in entering the work force of psychology may be interested in studying the human mind and human behaviors. They may also be empathetic and may have a desire to help others. Choosing to follow a career path in psychology opens many doors and opportunities, all of which are commendable.

Someone studying for a degree in psychology may be interested in pursuing a career in any of these choices:

-Social worker
-Educational psychologist 
-Human Resources manager
-Research position
-Media position

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