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Personality and Career Choice

How do we decide what to do for a living?  There are many influences on which profession we choose, of course, but does our personality type play a role?  Furthermore, does our career choice influence our personality or do we purposely choose a career that fits with our character?  For example, are people changed by success or do their traits drive them to prosper?   Based on my clinical experience, personality characteristics often determine our career choices.  For example, those choosing to work with computers may not enjoy interacting with people and prefer dealing with machines.  Some people enjoy high intensity jobs like working in the emergency room, while others prefer crunching numbers and having a consistent routine.  Our personality can also contribute to the spouse we choose, friends we attract, and places we live.

People who select careers that match with their personality types tend to be happier, more productive, and receive greater fulfillment. However, there may be negative consequences when aspects of our personality are reinforced and rewarded at work, but have detrimental effects on aspects of our relationships.  For example, being driven, intense, critical, and perfectionistic may be positive characteristics for our job, but not bode well for our marriage.  In fact, the very same traits that  propel people to achieve success often create destructive patterns in their relationships.  Marriage and career require different attributes that are sometimes conflictual.

The key to healthy relationships is working towards a good work-life balance, finding the middle ground, and accepting differences in personality types.  It also helps to be able to successfully transition from work to home and avoid treating family like employees/staff or carrying home the office persona.  Recognize that aspects of our personality can be adjusted or modified in different environments.  Healthy relationships require teamwork, joint decision-making, and mutually agreed upon solutions to resolving conflict.  Even though our personality contributes to our career choice, we shouldn’t assume that it works in all situations.  Reflect on your personality and consider which aspects work only in your career and which ones enhance your home life.  Decide to bring those relationship building traits home and leave the others at work.

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