I wrote some advice for my nephew. Recently leaving secondary school, he is flummoxed about what to do with his life. He had some sketchy idea about pursuing one of the sciences, probably pushed a little by his parents, but backed out, taking a retail sales job instead. He does not know what to do.
I think he is hiding things on/ in his mind but not telling his parents. Sometimes I think he is just saying something to provided an expected answer, and sometimes maybe what he thinks others think he should be saying.
Whatever my nephew's situation, I always recommend committing time for reflection. In the case of making appropriate and satisfactory career and life path choices, self-exploration is paramount. So many people follow some occupational or industrial trend, perhaps pursuing what seems prestigious and lucrative at the time, without looking at their own identity, assessing their own best skills and aptitudes, tallying up their accomplishments and experiences, translating experiences and abilities into skills and qualifications, and making a conscious choice for something fitting. Taking the time and making the effort to search one's soul and assess oneself can save a lot of grief and stress in life. For the sake of one's own peace of mind, I strongly suggest the following steps, as I laid out for my nephew a couple of weeks ago.
Just working on a resume and searching the job postings, even with a little research into career and industry profiles, is not adequate. Maybe reflecting on oneself seems a scary proposition to some people, at first, yet it can be fun and uplifting to explore likes and dislikes, become more aware of one's own leanings, and know well your best attributes and abilities. It can be a relief to go through the process. One comes out not only with a better sense of one's identity in terms of career, but identity as a person, and with clear goals. This is also a motivating process.
My notes to my nephew:
The self-exploration phase is about making some basic decisions about the life you want and who you want to be. To make the decisions, a person needs to learn more about himself and build self-awareness. That way, he'll have more control over his life, have clear goals, be confident about who he is, and remove a lot of anxiety about life choices and purpose, etc. It also means becoming more true to oneself (being real, authentic) instead of trying to be someone else, and having a solid self-identity, which in turn means being with people and living a way that are better for you .
I'll describe the process and tell you about some online resources in the next message.
main steps of the process:
a. Find out more about yourself. (Keep these lists and re-do them a few months later) 1.brainstorming: a) write down all the dreams that appeal to you, no matter how crazy or impossible they seem
b) write down some adjectives to describe yourself
c)write down all your favourite things
d)write down what your goals are at this time
2.Get more clarity on who you are. Use several online questionnaires about a)your interests and preferences (Out of lists of stuff, what seems the most interesting to you and what do you like the most? b)what can you do?
1.Use online tools to find out more about names of skills 2.write a list of your experiences: activities at home, at school, travels, work (paid or unpaid)...
3.write a list of all the things you think you can do "I can (verb)." 4.From all the above, put names to the things you have done and can do
3.What kind of person are you? Use online tools to help you discover it. With this information, and summing up your dreams, skills and interests, decide who you are. (This will change over time, so it is good to review and re-do the process once in a while over the years.)
4. What kind of lifestyle do you want? This includes income, household, schedules and more. Use online tools to explore the kind of life styles that are possible. Read, talk to people, look around to find out. Then try to create a picture of how you wish to live your life. Reading or watching biographies of or interviews with various people will help. Reading or watching personal testimonies and life achievements or transformations will also help.
Now that you are more aware of yourself, re-write your goals. Write 3 sets: short term (this year) and long term (5 and 10-year goals), and life goals (where do you wish to end up in life? What do you want to achieve?)
c.While you are doing this, try different experiences such as making things, traveling, hobbies/ pastimes, meeting different people, listening to /watching speakers or documentaries on different topics. As you know, there is a wide range of pastimes and hobbies available to most people these days. Examples are collections, music, body movement (exercise, dance...), writing, stand-up comedy, getting out in nature somehow, study, volunteering in community or social services or fundraising for some cause, public speaking, ....
Keep a journal. I cannot over-emphasize the value and usefulness of keeping a private journal to write down observations and thoughts as you are going through this, and generally through your life. Write daily or weekly.
Travel. This is an excellent way to give yourself time and space to get inspiration, talk to a variety of people and think.
Read. Make use of the local library, which has lots of career and self-improvement/ development resources, as well as books on industries, careers, biographies,..
d.Research industries, economic trends, change and career profiles. Don't start out with this, or you could end up in the wrong situation for you. As a youth in Canada, in your situation, you have a lot of opportunities and choices, and the luxury of time to figure things out.
THERE ARE NO SHORT-CUTS to this process. It is good to repeat this process a few times during your life time.