Knowing exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life before you even get into college is a challenging decision. You might think you want to be a Doctor now, but learn in your first clinical class that you’re squeamish around blood. Or maybe you thought you wanted to be an accountant (simply because you’re dad’s an accountant) but you just can’t seem to get debits and credits straight. You’ll be happy to know that it’s okay. Most people change their career path a few times before they find exactly what works for them. Before you make any big decisions, here are a few things you should figure out.
- What gets you excited?
You know what they say… you’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do. There’s going to be boring days at each job, but if for the most part you enjoy being at work, life will be that much better. If you love working with little kids, maybe you’d be a great elementary school teacher, recreational facility manager, or even a coach. If you like to help people, you could look into learning about social work, counseling, or even psychology. There are millions of jobs out there so it’s important that you find one that you can actually enjoy.
- You’re good at it
Growing up, everyone has wild fantasies about becoming the next rapper, NFL quarterback, or professional ballerina. Unfortunately, the competition in some fields is a lot more intense than others. It’s good to have a dream, but if it’s just not something you excel at, it might be time to get realistic. Those dreams may need to take a pause to real life, but it doesn’t mean you can’t turn that passion into something productive. For example, you always wanted to be a professional athlete, but the chances of you going pro after college are just about zero. Why not take your knowledge of the game and share that with the younger generation by becoming a coach? Just because you’re not a pro player doesn’t mean you can’t be an awesome teacher on the field, court, etc.
- Know how you communicate
It’s not every day that you ask yourself ‘what’s my communication style?’. Though not many people are even aware that there are different communication styles, it’s good to at least be able to identify your own. The four styles of communication are direct, considerate, spirited, and systematic. Not that you can’t do any job regardless of your communication style, but some fit certain roles better than others. For example, someone who has a systematic communication style thinks excessively logically and brings in almost no emotion to their decisions. They analyze details and organize their thoughts chronologically. If this is you, you might work well with numbers or evidence.
- How much time do I have?
We’d like to tell you that you can do anything you want to do, which is partially true, but if you’re on a timeline, it needs to be considered. There’s no reason you can’t get your PhD in your field sometime down the road, but maybe you have a family to care for that can’t wait 8+ years for you to complete all of that education. Take it step by step and make sure you plan out how you’re going to be making money during each of those steps.
- Can I support myself/my family doing this?
Now it’s really time to get realistic. All of the things above are still very important, and some people might even rank them higher in importance than being able to support yourself. However, once you get into the real world, expenses are real things. If you’re an artist, that’s wonderful, but are you going to be able to pay rent? Don’t give up your dream but make your passion a hobby rather than a career if it’s just not feasible.