Career advice I would give my 20-year-old self!
Ever wondered how would your life look like if, from a young age, you knew what you wanted to do and who you wanted to become? I have always been a bit envious of people who knew that they wanted to be a vet, doctor, lawyer or nurse, and pursue that career. This definitely wasn’t my journey. In fact when I was 5 I wanted be a butcher's wife (don't ask me why), so probably I’m glad I didn’t pursue my goal in this case :).
The truth is I never had one thing that I excelled at. I liked team sport, I danced, I was good at the majority of subjects, well apart from maths and physics.
I received close to zero career advice at school. My parents trusted that school would take care of it, so they didn’t intervene. My high school had two major directions to follow: law or medicine. My choice was simple: I didn’t like to see blood, I wasn’t good at physics and I liked history, so it was going to be Law. Hmmmm… now looking back, it wasn't the wisest choice, but today when I talk to a lot of young people, they follow the same thinking, which is a bit scary.
So let my journey be an example of what not to do :). I had a great time at university, don’t get me wrong, but it was hard, I didn’t enjoy the subjects and Law is not a subject you can just pass easily. And as you can imagine when I graduated I wanted to have nothing to do with law.
It took me 15 years and 5 different jobs to figure out what I want to do and what I’m really good at! I learnt the hard way and had to figure it out on my own, but if there is one thing I’m absolutely sure is that it doesn’t have to take so long.
So if you still haven’t figured it out, don’t worry, I hope my advice will help you at whatever stage of life you are!
1. Dare to dream
We all once had big dreams on what we want in our lives…… and then….life happened :). Whether parents or teachers told you that your ideas are silly, not realistic, or you will never get there. Whether you were told that you should get real and think about life seriously, like in my case:). Or whether you failed or some things didn’t work out how you wanted them to, I would encourage you to allow yourself to dream again. Your deep inside already knows what you want to do, how you want your life to look like and how you want to feel! So go on and write it all down, magic happens when you write things down! 😃 Think about how you want to feel every day, what you want to do each day, where do you want to be, who do you want to be with? Who do you want to help? What quality of life do you want to have?
It’s never too late to do what you always dreamt of and have a life that you always wanted to have.
2. Follow your passion
Each of us has something that we love doing, something that really makes us feel alive and lights us up. It might be sport, writing, painting, sewing, singing, playing an instrument, being outdoors, hiking and many others. Yet, very often we are told we can’t make a living following our passion. And you know what, in some cases maybe not. On the other hand, there are so many people that have become successful following their passion in life! So never say never! I loved and still love dancing, and although I didn't follow it as a career (because I was told I should choose something more serious :)), I still consider it to be an important part of my life. I love the feeling that dancing gives me, the energy, joy, freedom, connection; it's where I can truly express myself and be the real me. Your passion allows you to express yourself fully, so make sure that you incorporate it in your daily life.
3. Find out what you are good at and what’s important to you
We are often told at school to work on our weaknesses and become better at them, so we can be on the same level as others. Latest research in positive psychology however shows us that working on weaknesses will never makes us successful. Yes, we can become better, but we will never excel. In fact, “playing to your strengths” is the recipe for success. When we do what we are good at, what we enjoy, we are not only more productive and happier, we are also more successful! Our strengths are our ‘zone of genius’ and we should focus on developing and utilising them in every day life. So think about what you are good at and what is important for you! Do more of what makes you happy every day! Think how can you incorporate your strengths in you day-to-day activities.
And if you would like to read more, I highly recommend Alex Linley's book “ Average to A+".
4. Choose your own way!
Social and peer pressure is a huge element in our lives, especially when we are young. We don't want to stand out, we don't know enough about life to make controversial choices and defend them with confidence. It’s easier to follow what you hear, what you are told or what others are doing. From my experience I can tell you that although it’s easier, it’s definitely not a better way. Invest the time to find out what is right for you. The obvious route is to go to university after school, but is it the best for you? Is it somewhere you can really flourish and will it really help you in the future? Find out what are you curious about and what you like to learn. Talk to people that are in careers you want and find out what it’s like and how they got where they are. No one is like you, so choose what is right for YOU.
5. Experiment- you don’t have to get it straight away!
Life is a journey and we learn something new every day. Yet, when it comes to our career choices we are supposed to choose one and stick to it! But how can we know? It’s OK not to get it straight away, to change directions and keep looking for what you really love to do. If I didn’t change my jobs 5 times I would never have found out what I really love to do. If I followed the above advice, it wouldn’t have taken me so long probably J, but I think that was a valuable experience.
The fact is you don’t know it until you try it. So go and try different things, talk to different people, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It’s not your thinking that will get you where you want to be, it’s YOUR ACTIONS!
Be unique, be different, be authentic, be the real YOU!
To your success!