I have a veritable smorgasbord of friends in their late twenties and early thirties who are dissatisfied with life. Sure some went to college and some have good jobs and they know they should be grateful, but they just can’t muster the requisite enthusiasm. If you’re thinking; “I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but it’s definitely not this,” here’s how to go about finding the right career for you.
Why the long face?
Perhaps it’s because we’re are having kids later which leads to early onset midlife crises or perhaps it’s because we choose our careers at 18, when we are least qualified to do so. Or perhaps it can be attributed to our generation’s focus on academia with no instruction whatsoever on how to actually live a life. Whatever the reason, this lack of passion is pervasive, leaving us floundering in a miasma of indecision. Well, flounder no more!
Stop waiting for the bolt from the blue which will suddenly fill you with passion as consuming as Van Gough’s need to paint. That ship has sailed. Instead, approach the finding of a new career with a methodical plan (because there’s nothing quite like planned spontaneity.)
Start with your skills. Knowing what you are good at is a great way to find a career that uses your particular set of talents. Sure you can make a list yourself, but you should also do some aptitude tests. These can be really helpful in uncovering not only your hidden talents, but they also suggest the kinds of careers you would be good at.
Ask the peanut gallery
You will be amazed at what they come up with. Your friends and family members know you really well and they have a very different idea of who you are. Ask them what career they think will make you happy and you may be very surprised at their suggestions. You should also look for lists of careers to find jobs you may not have considered, but could be really interested in.
Make a list, check it twice
Once you have a list of all the careers you could possibly see yourself doing, go forth and try them out. Want to be a teacher? Then chat with some teacher friends, volunteer as a tutor, be a Big Brother or Big Sister or work at a summer camp. These activities can really help you to get a feel for the day-to-day and help you to eliminate some options and reinforce others.
So now what?
Once you have decided on a new direction, you can start moving yourself towards a new career by taking a few courses in your spare time. Don’t have spare time? Just consider the curious case of Jennifer D who had a great job as a senior project manager in a bank. She decided that she really wanted to be a teacher, but with two children under 5, it was probably not the best time to change careers. But she did. She gave up her job, went to university full time and started a cleaning company in her ‘spare’ time where she cleans homes to pay her mortgage. So what was your excuse again?
Use what you’ve got
Cornelius has a great job in a leading Toronto ad agency, but he has aspirations of being a clothing designer. He could have waited for the ‘right’ time, but instead he set aside time and money every month to add a couple of things to his clothing line. When he had enough items, he turned his apartment into a popup shop and had a very successful first run. This gave him the confidence and capital to expand his line into new markets. Using the resources you already have and calling on your friends and family members to help is a great way to get you started in the right direction.
You can flounder along in your career until you have a mortgage and a family that make changing more difficult, or you can act now. Its ok if you don’t feel madly passionate about anything, love for your chosen path will grow when you are doing something you enjoy. Don’t be bound by traditional ideas about careers, your choices are only limited by your own imagination, little cricket.
This article also appears in the Huffington Post
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Hi Nikki, here’s a great TED talk by Meg Jay on how our twenties are actually the defining decade. Time to take chances and experiment etc. She also has a really good book that I highly recommend. http://www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30_is_not_the_new_20.html
Thanks Mara! I completely agree – life is short and it should be joyful and abundant every day.