It’s something that’s just implied throughout the whole process of leaving school and joining a career, but how many people actually know what they want to do? Because the choices that you make at 16 or 18 or 21 can leave you stuck in a job that saps your essence and the longer you’re in it the worse it becomes.
I never knew what I wanted to be. There was of course the trivial work experience trips, and chats with career advisors, but never did I find anything that resonated. I realise now that this was because I was so conditioned in to thinking that your future career had to be something that grown ups did, that I didn’t know I was allowed to do something I enjoyed.
From a very early age we are all conditioned into a certain way of living. Most of us have parents that work, in jobs that they hate but pay the bills, and we learn from them that this is what we will do when we’re older. I wasn’t looking for something that I could enjoy, I was looking for things that would pay well. Your family is one of the biggest influences in your life and your values pretty much come from them, so be aware of this if you’re trying to change your life.
School is the other big influence. If you’re a normal kid then you enjoy playing and you’re bored at school. You appreciate at some level that school is preparing you for grown-up life and so you expect your job to be boring in the future. All of this funnels you down certain paths.
My A-Levels were Maths, Law and Drama; I went on to become an accountant but which one do you think I enjoyed out of the three. Exactly, I was heavily advised from parents and other responsible grown-ups to give myself a good foundation. It subsequently took me the next 16 years to find my way back to what I enjoy using… my imagination.
You don’t want to let people down and when you don’t know what you want to do anyway then it’s sometimes easier to just play along. But be careful that you don’t start believing that whatever you settle for is the real you. Steve Jobs in his Stanford Commencement Address advised, ‘Don’t settle, don’t settle, don’t settle.’ But you got to pay the bills, right?
The worst thing that you can do is associate your career with money but that is what we all do. We choose a lifestyle that we want to live and then find a job that will provide the resources to do it. We’ll never find what we were put here to do if we look at it like that. Instead we need to look at what we love doing the most and then find a way of making it pay. Love the subject not the money.
What can you do?
Take your time – only freaks know what they want to do at 16. In fact I know people that are doing what they wanted to do at 16 and hate it because they feel like they’re living a school kids dreams. Get some experience first, try a few different things and see what you like. Concentrate on the subjects that you enjoy and are good at. Forget the rest, they’re a waste of time.
In the old days you would have a job for life. A career was something that you cherished and once you were in one you worked at it until you drew your pension. Nowadays it’s all changed, the rules aren’t the same. If you try and stick to one career the chances are that you’re going to spend at least some of your time unemployed trying to get back into it. Be flexible, know yourself, and make it happen for you.
Anyone else have a problem when they left school?