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Go into a career with your eyes open

How do know what a career really requires into you're a few years into it? I talk to people all the time who find their professions are much more demanding than they expected. 

Women may be particularly naive about what a career path requires.

A new survey shows women who jumped into finance are paying an incredibly high price to be in the industry, which is now considered a profession more demanding than medicine or law.   In the study, entitled “Harvard and Beyond,” Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz found that female investment bankers, who made up for the work they missed after taking time off to have a child, still saw the largest pay decreases. Even more, there's a physical, mental, and emotional toll that working such long hours and being away from their families has on female investment bankers.

In a report that appeared in The Glasshammer.com, Hope Hanner-Bailey, an organizational psychologist and management consultant for Management Concepts said:  “Maintaining work-life balance – which I prefer to call work/life-integration – is extremely important to a woman’s health and well being because if she does not allow enough time for at least minimal satisfaction at home, she can suffer from a variety of health problems, ranging from sleeplessness to anxiety and depression. She may also be in danger of burn-out or exhaustion.

If you're about to pursue a new career and/or reinvent yourself, ask people in the profession what "making it" requires. Ask men and women. And make note of this:The survey also found that occupations with the highest numbers of men also had the highest average number of hours worked.

If it's too late and you're already invested in a profession,  Bailey believes a balance can be had if women are willing to seriously assess their needs and do something about them.

1. Join a support group.  “Many women find tremendous comfort in venting with like-minded people or talking with a professional.”

2. Communicate. "I would urge these women to start communicating with their spouses on a daily basis – if they don’t already. It is critical that a woman and her spouse become a team..."

3. Plan the week to include me time. ’ If they don’t do this on a regular basis, continuing on will prove to be incredibly difficult.

Did you know what sacrifices were necessary before you pursued your career path? Would you have chosen a different occupation if you had gone in with your eyes open?