When I was in high school, I was best at history and English. An old pamphlet from the messy drawer in the guidance counselor’s office said that meant I had to be a teacher.
So off I went for a 4-year degree in the humanities when I was 17.
I never wanted to be a teacher, really. But what else could I do? 🤔
So far in my career, I’ve done project management, policy, research, grant writing, and a ton of digital marketing and content work.
I’ve NEVER held a role that I even knew EXISTED when I was in high school (or in university for that matter).
But for some reason, our society still has this stupid idea that everyone should know what they want to do when they grow up. We ask little kids that all the time.
If you’re saying, “I don’t know what career I want,” I want to give you 3 reasons why you don’t need to be stressed about it. And then I want to tell you how to fix it.
1. You will have many careers
My dad pretty much had one career in his life. He tried a few different jobs at the beginning, but then ended up working maintenance for a hospital. And he stayed there for 25 years.
This is the way boomers thought about careers. It’s left-over from the industrial revolution, from a time when the factory was the machine and you had to figure out which cog you want to be.
Tech is changing so fast that it’s useless to try to pick one career you’ll have for the rest of your life. So don’t sweat it. Your job is not to have your career figured out when you’re 18. You don’t need to know the whole path. You just gotta take the first step.
The job you’ll do in 20 years probably hasn’t been invented yet. So forget about that and focus on the job you want next.
2. You learn by doing
There’s no way you can sit in your living room and figure out what you want to do with your life. Even if, *ahem*, you stumble across a blog with good ideas.
The stress our society puts on us to have it figured out in advance is, well, stupid. It really is.
Imagine when you were a kid if you’d never eaten food. Your parents line up pizza, pasta, burgers, and subs and say, “Okay, what type of food is your favorite?”
Remember, you’ve never tasted any of them.
How would you be able to guess which was your favorite by looking at them? You’d have to try them!
It’s the same with careers. The only way to really know what’s right for you is to go out and try some stuff. And don’t be afraid to walk away from the stuff that doesn’t fit.
3. You probably haven’t heard of your future career
Research shows that young people choose careers they have exposure to.
Put differently, young people can’t choose careers they’ve never heard of (duh). 👩🎓
So if you want to find a career, you’ve got to start exploring. But despite the fact that you’ve got to try some stuff, as I said above, you’re not going to be able to try everything.
So what’s the fix?
You can meet people in interesting careers and ask them questions about what they do. This is called an “informational interview.” It’s a great way to start exploring careers and to rule some stuff out.
So you found yourself googling, “I don’t know what career I want?” You know what? So do tons of other people.
Because the truth is, few people REALLY have it figured out. Relax! Give yourself a break. And start to look at your career as a beautiful exploration of the stuff you want to do and the impact you want to have, rather than a fixed path you should know by now.
And go start exploring.