Kiran asks:

Hi Kathy. Thank you so much for the article. What about people who are starting their career? I had decided to make my career in mechanical design and R&D. The opportunities however are far fewer in this field. Where as opportunities are more in, say, the field of supply chain, production, maintenance, marketing. I twice got selected for technical marketing but decided not to join. What should an individual do when starting off? What to do when lot of opportunities knock on door but not from the field one is looking for. Should a fresher accept these opportunities and think about career change afterward OR should he wait no matter how much time is required?

Here was my response:

Hi Kiran – Thanks for your great question. I can’t advise you directly without knowing more about your situation (for that we’d need a coaching session), but I’d offer this. To me, your question is a bit like when a child comes to his mother and asks, “Mom, I really adore soccer and that’s what I want to play next year, but there are only a few spots on the team. Should I do what I can to get on the soccer team, or just go out for basketball which is easy to get on?”

What I’m getting at here is this – I’ve found that people are a thousand times happier, more fulfilled and successful when they’re doing work they love, generating outcomes they care deeply about, using their natural talents and gifts, and not sacrificing their spirits and souls for “security.”

Here are some questions to ponder:

1) Are there steps you can take now that plant the seeds for growing more desirable and in demand in the highly competitive field you love?
2) If you take another path, and years later wake up to the fact that the industry has changed and there ARE positions in the field you originally wanted, will you have regrets about going down this other path?
3) Can you gain employment now that pays the bills but ALSO prepares you well for the work you really want to do?
4) Finally, are you sure that mechanical design and R&D ARE what you want? How do you know, exactly? Did you “try on” this direction thoroughly to know that this is professional identity you want?

In the end, career change can be much harder than starting off doing what you want and planting the seeds for that all along the way. As I career changer myself, I know this to be true. I’d recommend figuring out what you want NOW (this survey will help you do that) and going for it with all you’ve got.

I’m working on my second book right now, and in it, I’m discussing the critical steps we need to take if we want to build happy, rewarding and successful careers that buoy us through the hard times in life.

An important thing to realize is that you will probably dedicate more hours to working than to anything else in your entire life. Knowing that, do you want to settle, right out of the gate? Do you want to sacrifice your spirit, your natural talents and gifts and feeling enlivened every day, for what you think will bring you “security?”

The sad reality that I’ve seen in my own life and with thousands of other midlife career professionals is that they have gone the route of sacrificing joy, fulfillment and excitement in their work, only to wake up years later to find that the unsatisfying work they settled work was stripped away from them due to the recession. I’ve seen that they only thing that is secure in your life is YOU – your spirit, heart, your talents, and gifts, and passions, your unique perspective. Pushing past your comfort zone and going for what you care about deeply is what keeps you stretching, growing and thriving. (Here’s more about how moving out of your comfort zone is critical to your success and happiness.)

My advice is to go with what you care most about, even if it’s much harder. Pursuing work that makes you feel alive, valuable and of use is a life-changing experience that generates many rewards. That said, you must take the right steps to remain employable and marketable, and to be highly valued in the workforce. It’s not enough to pursue your passion without doing what’s required to be great at your work, and to contribute in meaningful ways in your field.

But once you do that, you’ll have married up two of the most important ingredients of a life well-lived – joyfully giving of yourself and your amazing talents every day in the world, and nurturing and supporting yourself and your loved ones in ways that make you proud and happy.

Are you facing an important decision between pursuing work you love and doing what you think is the “secure” thing? What will you do?

(To build a happier, more rewarding career, visit and The Amazing Career Project.)

Kathy Caprino, M.A. is a nationally-recognized career success coach, writer, trainer and speaker dedicated to the advancement of women in business. She is the author of Breakdown, Breakthrough:The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power and Purpose, and Founder/President of Ellia Communications, Inc. and The Amazing Career Project, all focusing on helping professional women build successful, rewarding careers of significance. A Forbes and Huffington Post contributor and top media source on women’s career and entrepreneurial issues, she has appeared in over 100 leading newspapers and magazines and on national radio and television. For more information, visit and connect with Kathy on: Twitter, FB, LinkedIn.