‘Tis the season of “figuring it out” for high school seniors and college graduates. That pressure to find a place to land for the next little bit of their lives (or “the rest” of their lives from the college graduate perspective) brings on so much pressure.
I will say, that compared to when I was in that stage of life, I do feel that today we are a little less regimented on making those decisions. It has become more acceptable to take a gap year or work while attending a community college. And online course work–where were you when I was 18?!
Regardless though, there is still the pressure that we put upon ourselves and that which others also put upon us when we are 18, 19, 22, 25 that we need to get the whole thing figured out, NOW! (Little secret, you don’t.)
Recently I was asked by 2 high school seniors to answer questions about my career choice and some of the qualities that my job required. Of course these items encompassed more of my life philosophies rather than tangible qualities once I got past being uber-organized. Hopefully I didn’t scare them to death and it gave them food for thought when they left.
“Losing time.” When I was at Cornell I worked during alumni weekend. I got to know the director of alumni affairs during that period of time. One day she asked me, “When have you lost time?”
Her reference to “losing time” was about remembering a time when you were so engrossed, in a good way, in a task at hand, that you lost all sense of time. A job or situation, that when you came out of it, you felt completely satisfied with the work that you had done, content and happy. She encouraged, maybe that should be a direction you go in for your life’s work? The lost time…
And the question that I got asked that made me think back to losing time was this: “If you were my age, would you do anything differently in choosing a career?” And here is my answer, tweaked.
“I think that I would attack it differently… I would think more about how I would want my life to feel in the future, rather than look. I would ask of myself and try to answer more questions that pertain to family life. I would ask questions about fulfillment and parenting, free time and daily routines of life.
When I think about happiness and fulfillment, it isn’t necessarily defined in a job, but more the results of how you feel after doing the different tasks of a job. It’s easy to surmise that I want to be a veterinarian because I like animals. Maybe a better way to tackle the profession would be breaking down the components of the job and asking how they make you feel? Is it the actual caring for the animals that you are drawn to? Is it the problem-solving behind diagnosis? Is it keeping the kennel clean and orderly? Maybe you like interacting with the owners and explaining procedures? Once you answer those questions, are there other professions that might fit into how you want your life to feel that would give you more fulfillment because they not only include those tasks but they allow you to live the life you gravitate towards, or have a pace that feels comfortable in a place that feeds your soul.
There is so much to choosing a career. It’s just not as flat or straight as we want it to be when we are young and trying to choose a direction. I have taken a long and winding route to get to this place of owning my own business in communications–I never thought that it would be this. But when I go back to the core things that made me happy and “lose time” when I was 18–this choice encompasses just about all of it.
But maybe, just maybe, I needed to do and experience all of those things first, before I could find this… There are no right and wrong answers, but you ultimately lose if you don’t act upon making a change or choosing a course that gets you one step closer to where you need to be for your overall happiness and inner well-being.”
Good luck my friends, as you choose. Remember, nothing is permanent or final or forever. So give yourself a break during this season of Figuring It Out.