Why it’s OK to Not Have Your Career Figured Out
Your dream job doesn’t have to come overnight
Dear Millennials – don’t panic. We know it might feel like you suddenly have to have it all figured out once you leave high school. Your relationships, your finances, your study path and ultimately, your dream job.
When we were kids, it was like we instinctively knew what we wanted to be when we grew up. We could confidently sum it all up in just one word: astronaut, firefighter, zoologist or something equally thrilling.
But now that we are all grown up, things don’t feel as clear cut.
While everyone else is graduating with impressive marks, finding killer jobs and working their way up the ladder to their dream career, you might still be feeling a little lost. You know you have a lot to offer an employer, but just haven’t figured out where your skills and interests fit in.
Maybe you’re even a little bit older than a millennial and still don’t feel like you’ve got your career figured out. And you know what? That’s okay!
No one’s really got it all figured out
Think everyone around you has got life down pat? Trust us, it’s all an illusion.
The perfect Instagram posts and glowing Facebook statuses aren’t necessarily a true indicator of your cohort or a benchmark for where you “should” be in life.
While your connections must have lots of exciting things to celebrate in their lives, it’s also worth remembering that just as many people are in the same position as you are.
The figures show that the majority of people are still pursuing that elusive dream job.
Whenever you feel like you’re in a lull, remember that an awful lot of people also aren’t doing their dream job, or may not even know what their dream job is.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to mean you’re destined for doom and gloom.
Not having your career figured out presents an exciting opportunity to focus on what matters most in life, hone in on your skills, get some much-needed solo time and experiment with various career options.
You get to base your career around your life, not your life around your career
Not having a dream job that you’re ruthlessly pursuing actually allows you to focus on your life. A lot of people will put their career first, and then tailor the rest of their lives around it.
Their socialising, hobbies and sometimes even family life can take a backseat if their career demands it. You, on the other hand, get to focus on your life first and then work out what type of job will fit in with your goals and vision for the future.
If you’re currently at a loss for which career path to take, try asking yourself what kind of life you would like to lead.
Do you want to live in the midst of the city bustle, or are you more of a country soul?
Do you like working outdoors, or are you a creature of air-conditioned comfort?
Do you enjoy a lot of flexibility and spontaneity, or are you after a more orderly lifestyle with a regular paycheck?
By mapping out your life first, you can pinpoint a career path that will truly fulfil you, while also avoiding the trap of becoming consumed by your day job. As the age-old adage goes, you should work to live, not live to work.
You get to develop new skills
Being free from a set career path lets you develop a diverse skill set instead of becoming pigeon-holed in your area of expertise. You can start by exploring fields you are interested in to work out the relevant skills.
Perhaps you’ve always been excited by the idea of running your own business, working with your hands or looking after others.
Identifying your interests then allows you to start building the relevant skills, whether that’s mastering the accounting software MYOB, becoming more confident with using technology, or familiarising yourself with health and safety codes.
You get time to yourself
If you’re in a lull for what to do career-wise, it’s not a bad idea to just take a break from it all. After all, starting a new job usually means buckling down for some time before you accumulate enough annual leave to take a break.
Instead, why not see the lack of work commitments as an opportunity to do whatever you want.
This could be travelling, working abroad, volunteering, picking up new hobbies or just spending some time with your nearest or dearest.
By opening yourself up to a world of possibilities, you may even stumble across unique opportunities or discover work that actually does ignite your passion.
Steve Jobs, for one, started off being passionate about Zen Buddhism but soon transitioned into the technology industry to make money.
As his success increased, so did his passion, with one of his most-recited quotes being to “do what you love.”
You get to try different jobs
Of course, you’ll likely have to keep working to make money even if you haven’t quite figured out your ideal career path. Don’t turn your nose up at other work opportunities – every gig can equip you with new skills, as well as teach you more about yourself.
Experiences of any kind allow you to hone in on what you truly desire or reveal what your workplace deal-breakers are, helping you make better choices in the future.
For example, an office job might make you realise that the desk isn’t for you and that you’d rather be active all day.
Or you might love talking to people in your telemarketing job, but want to find a more fulfilling application for your people skills.
In addition to casting light on your likes and dislikes, trying a variety of different jobs also equips you with a range of transferable skills, such as clear communication, problem-solving, critical thinking and emotional intelligence.
Don’t believe us? There’s plenty of examples of famous people who worked a day job they weren’t necessarily passionate about while also doing some work on the side:
Einstein had his most productive year in 1905 when also working a day job as a clerk at a patent office.
Whether you’re a recent grad trying to work out your dream career path or a seasoned professional in need of a career change, it’s okay not to have it all figured out. You’re certainly not lacking anything in life: in fact, this is an exciting time full of opportunities and potential.
Try finding out more about a field you are interested in to see what skills are worth developing – who knows, you might stumble down the career path of your dreams!
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