If you are in your teens and wondering where life will take you after school, or if you are in your twenties and your university days are coming to a close without a really defined career in sight, or even if you are a parent of a young person going through this phase, the world might seem a bit confusing and scary.
Which path to take? What career would really suit you? What do you really want out of life? These are all questions we ask ourselves from time to time, and keeping in touch with your gut feelings is a really important part of working out the answers.
Here’s 5 tips to help you through it, whatever age you are.
Keep asking yourself what makes you happy
If you finish each day thinking about what were the things that made you happy today, you’ll be giving yourself a bunch of clues about who you really are.
Were you happy when you were reading a book on the train? Or was it solving a problem at work that gave you a kick? Reviewing whether it was cooking, reading, running, or talking to people in the office or school will help you work out where your strengths are. It will also keep you focused about which parts of your life you really enjoy and want to keep as a part of your routine.
Work to your strengths
If you are really good at writing reports, or getting the details down correctly, then don’t waste those skills by pushing yourself into a career path that doesn’t need them.
Maybe you’re really good at explaining complicated ideas to people and you should consider teaching or being a GP. Maybe you’re really good at leading and bringing out the best in the people around you, and you should consider management. Maybe you’re creative skills are your asset, and you should look at careers that utilise those skills.
You’ll do better in a job where you’ve got a natural talent, you’ll be happier and more confident when learning new things.
Be open to hard work
This one may seem obvious, but many kids out there are looking for the perfect career, the perfect job, with tonnes of money and not much work.
Yeah, that’s everybody’s dream, but we know that it’s a fantasy for 99% of the worlds’ population.
Even when you’ve identified your strengths and talents, you’ve pinpointed which parts of your day make you happy and been able to pursue them in your working life, you’re still going to have to work hard. The population of the world has been growing exponentially for decades, so competition is tougher than ever.
Endure the Bad Days
At the end of all this hard work, you’re going to have terrible days where you think you’ve made a huge error and you need to start all over again. Maybe you’ll wish you were back in primary school with a clean slate and another ten years at least of relaxing before hitting the working world.
Keep in mind, primary school children still have the horrors of puberty to get through, and actually you’ve come pretty far to be where you are today. Stay positive, and on days where you really can’t keep it up, just batten down the hatches and hold on for tomorrow.
Take Care of Yourself
Your mind, body, and spirit. Keep time free for relaxation. Think about setting up half an hour before bed as a technology free time. Eat as well as you can, and don’t punish yourself for an extra cookie here and there (remember, chocolate is good for you…)
Exercise all your aggression and uncertainties out – joining a gym is just about the best thing a twenty-something can do for their mental health.
Keep in touch with your friends and family, they are the best support network there is. If you find you’re going crazy trying to keep up with 10 different people, consider cutting down the list of people to spend quality time with. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
At the end of the day, nobody likes trying to figure out what to do next. Although 18-30 year olds typically go through a lot more confusion regarding their careers than the rest of the population, it’s worth keeping in mind that nobody really knows what they are doing – even when they are 80.