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When it comes to careers, most of us think we know how the world works. After all, we’ve looked for, held, and perhaps even quit jobs, and it’s all led to a set of beliefs that govern our actions and expectations. 

But as Kandia Johnson writes in a fantastic Black Enterprise article titled “Debunked: 5 Career Myths Holding You Back From Success,” you shouldn’t put too much faith in everything you’ve heard and accepted as truth. With New Year’s approaching, Johnson thought it a good time to upend bogus career theories and point readers on a path toward success, and her piece is filled with great advice.

The first myth she debunks is that whatever career path your parents or caretakers advocated is the only right one. From childhood, we’re told to go to school, get a stable and high-paying job, get married, buy a house, and generally chase the American dream. But there’s more than one way to find happiness. “Choosing a career based on someone else’s definition of success might leave you feeling sad, trapped, and unhappy,” Johnson writes.

On the subject of happiness, Johnson’s second myth is that happiness is just a promotion/paycheck/accomplishment/whatever away. It’s not that simple. “Money, power, and/or material things do not necessarily bring you happiness,” Johnson writes. You’ve got to find your purpose before you can truly be content.

Myth No. 3 is all about education. Johnson warns against believing that having the right degree will open all the doors you need en route to career bliss. These days, bachelor’s degrees are becoming the norm, and many companies are more concerned with whether you’re a “thought leader” or “social influencer” — someone who’s able to create value and share your ideas and opinions with the world via social media. Do you have an online brand? Are you giving people a reason to follow you in every sense of the word?

On a related note, the fourth myth Johnson debunks is the notion that “climbing the ladder of success is the only way to land a leadership role.” Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to make your mark on the world. Once you discover your passion, Johnson writes, you can create a platform for spreading awareness and engaging with relevant players.

Lastly, Johnson says you shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that entrepreneurial skills only matter if you’re running your own business. As she says, you need to “become the CEO of your career,” which means building a brand and thinking outside the box. You must adapt, seek out new opportunities, and keep pushing forward.

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