Some people are lucky and they just instinctively know what they want for their career. Whether it’s become a nurse or join the army or be a painter. But sometimes it’s just not that easy. Sometimes as soon as the question “What do you want?” is raised, your mind can just go blank. There are so many options out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re a school leaver, or stuck in a dead end job taking you nowhere fast, sometimes there is just no obvious answer. So what can you do if you don’t know what you want to do? People will say, look inside yourself. What are your passions? Do you have hobbies? What are your dreams? But sometimes you just have absolutely no idea! Maybe the only dream you had has just become impossible due to health problems or other unavoidable circumstances. What can you do?
Do seek opinions
People notice more than you think. Your friends have probably noticed that you’ve been unsettled. Your family can probably see that you’re a little directionless. Ask them what they think. Sometimes the people closest to you know you better than you think. What do they see you doing in 10 years time? But don’t ask for advice. You might think it’s the same thing, but it’s not. If you’re asking an opinion, people will generally list skills they’ve noticed you have or things you enjoy doing. Asking advice, people will tell you what they think you should do. Especially family. This is when you…
Don’t listen to family!
While they may think they know what’s best for you, sometimes their perceptions can be warped by worry for your well fare. I always wanted to be a writer, but my family was of the opinion that writing was a childish dream, especially as a career choice. And it’s true, there isn’t much money in it. Unless you’re J.K Rowling. I wanted to go to university, but no one in my family had ever attended university and they didn’t understand why I wanted to. Being young and in an isolated area, my parents advice is what I followed. Into childcare. Now it turned out not to be such a bad thing for me, because I ended up travelling the world as an au pair. Without my childcare qualifications, I wouldn’t have thought to do that. But ultimately work in mainstream childcare centres brought no joy or passion into my life. Listen to your family’s opinions, but don’t let them dictate your decisions.
Do take a gap year
In European countries, school leavers are openly encouraged to take time off after school to find out what they want to pursue in life. They travel, meet new people and expand their minds. Because school doesn’t really expand your mind. I’ve heard it said that our education system was designed in the industrial revolution, when all they needed people to be able to do was work in a factory line. And when you think about it, all of the bells and eating at regimented times does smack of drone training facilities. In Australia, high school barely even teaches you the basics of life. Do you know how to do your taxes? Rent an apartment? Do bank transfers? Use a credit card effectively? Change a car tyre? If you don’t know how to do any of these things, how on earth can you be expected to even have a clue what you to do with your life? Use a gap year to learn how to write an effective resume and cover letter. Apply for entry level jobs. Become a better driver. Pick up a new hobby. Travel. Write a blog even?!
Do get to know yourself
Yes it’s corny and it’s what all those self development and career counselling gurus tell you. But you know what they say about cliches – they are mostly true. You are square one, base zero. If you don’t know your personality traits, skills, strengths or interests, you will never figure it out. This is why I think a gap year – or two!- is so important. It’s not ‘taking a break’ from learning, it’s taking part in a different kind of learning. When you know yourself, you can begin to figure out what you want to do with yourself.
I don’t know why people think it’s so important you know exactly what you want to do with your life at all times. Life is a journey, and if you don’t know what you want to do as soon you as you’ve finished school, so what?! Just because you don’t know yet, doesn’t been your doomed to be a drone the rest of your life. Take the time you need to figure it out.
Do try something, you never know where it will take you
Sometimes your just need to try something. Like me with childcare, even though I came back to my original dream eventually, just doing something can get the back brain working on the real issues. Get a job, any job. Start studying anything that piques your interest. Even if you just do some free or cheap online courses. Hello Youtube! Or even Udemy, I use it all the time! Lots of universities worldwide have free access to their courses. They won’t earn you a degree but if you do decide to study, you can earn credit from them later.
Have a story similar to mine? Did you try something and find it wasn’t for you? Let me know it the comments!