What do you do if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? Believe it or not, if you’re feeling this way, you are nowhere near alone. Blame it on unrealistic expectations… blame it on choosing the wrong major in college… heck, blame it on the weather. Regardless of your age, you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. It’s a hard decision to make, and sometimes the path to happiness simply takes time.
1. Realize That It's Okay
Some people know what they want to do from age three. Me? I wanted to be a princess. Oddly enough, they don’t teach Princess 101 in college, so I went the next best route, and majored in Theatre. And while my public speaking skills are now fab, in retrospect, I know that I was setting myself up for confusion and aimlessness upon graduation. But that’s alright, because that aimlessness allowed me to fully realize my love of writing, and my future became clear. So if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up yet, don’t stress. Not every path to the future is the straightest line; take your time, and it’ll come to you eventually.
2. Make a List of What You like to do
I am a huge fan of lists, and sometimes getting my life in order requires multiple lists. I have to do lists, goal lists, pro con lists… you name it, I’ve tried it. And by jove if it doesn’t work! If you’re feeling a bit lost in your future plans, make a list of the things you enjoy doing. Remember, you want to ENJOY your future career. Find the common denominators in your list, and figure out what kind of job has those elements. POOF, your career choice may have been right in front of you the whole time!
3. Make a List of What You DON’T like to do
Due to my previous stated love of lists, it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m suggesting you make another one. If the first list showed you multiple career choices, or if it didn’t work for you, then maybe it’s time to work backwards. Make a list of things you never want to do in your future (like sales, answering phones, public speaking, etc.), and cross out all possible job options that involve those things. Remember, the goal here is future happiness. You don’t want to end up with a grown up job that you loathe.
4. Apply at a Temp Agency
I used to think that temp agencies were fictional, made up to further interesting plot lines in movies and television. So imagine my surprise when my best friend moved to Vegas for a while, and got work through a temp agency! Lo and behold, they placed her in a car company, and her future, very lucrative and enjoyable, career was born. Temp agencies are no joke; they will look at your skills and experience, and place you in jobs you are best suited for. It’s like trial and error for the aimless… and it’s definitely worth a shot.
5. Pick One of Your Job Options and Interview Someone Who is Successful at It
I think this is a really important step that many people overlook. If you want to know what a future in one of your possible career choices is like, go ask someone who does it! You want to be a PR Manager, find one on LinkedIn, or through a friend, and ask them to go for coffee so you can pick their brain. You’ll be surprised how helpful people can be, and you may end up with a profitable connection for your future. Plus, a stranger is more likely to tell you the positives AND negatives, which could save you time and heartache.
6. Do Something You Know You’ll Love, Regardless of the Pay
I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but not all jobs start out as high paying. You need to weigh that Mercedes you want against your personal happiness in the future, as your most pleasurable career choice may not be the most profitable. My best advice is to ignore the pay stub, and get started working towards something you really enjoy. If you excel, you WILL make more money eventually. And if you don’t excel, well, it’s time to get back to the drawing board.
7. Enjoy the Journey
It’s never too late to decide what you want to be. College isn’t only for 18-22 year old people anymore. Pick what will make you happiest, and then do what you need to do to get there. If that means taking an unpaid internship and working at a bar at night, do your thing. If it means going back to college in your thirties (or forties, or fifties…), get to it. And most importantly, enjoy the process.
It’s never too late to get started, and nothing takes "too long." Remember, as somebody really smart said, "… the time will pass anyway." So what do you y’all think? Is your future happiness worth the time spent looking for it? Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?