Some people seem to know what their career will be five minutes after they come out of the womb. Even as children, their goals are set, and their future is clear. Individuals like this who are so intensely self-directed can be intimidating, and it only gets worse as time passes. Hit a crucial milestone such as high school graduation without having the faintest idea of what you’re passionate about, and the knowledge can be both scary and disorienting. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that might help you to get on track without sacrificing your individuality.
RELAX AND LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE
Pressure from parents, friends and even from your own worry is anything but productive. In fact, it keeps you from engaging in the most important self-discovery activity of all: stepping back and listening to your own inner voice. Believe it or not, you really do know your perfect path. For any number of reasons, you may choose not to follow it, but the knowledge is there. If you let your conscious mind in on the secret, you can then make a determination about whether it is the road you want to take.
ARM YOURSELF WITH INFORMATION
It’s all well and good to talk about listening to your gut, but what if that strategy isn’t working for you? You can give yourself a jump-start by writing down three jobs that you are curious about. Then use your social network to find someone who is already involved in that particular industry. Give that person a call, and courteously let them know that you are thinking about pursuing their particular career. Would they be willing to speak with you about their work and perhaps even let you shadow them for a couple of hours?
SEEK VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
Getting paid for your work can’t be beat, but volunteering has some advantages as well. When you offer your services for free, you can request flexible hours and often can customize your responsibilities to fit your interests. You can take a position for a couple of months or for years. If you do high-quality work, supervisors will be more than happy to write letters of recommendation and act as references when you apply for paid positions in the future. Best of all, these types of jobs give you a chance to learn things about yourself that can help you to discern your career choices. For example, your non-paying gig as a patient and visitor escort in a hospital will give you tons of experience with people as well as patients who are not feeling well. After a few weeks, you will have a pretty good idea of whether you are cut out for a career in this type of setting.
FIND A MENTOR
These days, an increasing number of young people are opting out of the traditional career trajectory that dictates post-secondary education followed by years of climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, they are choosing to forge their own path based on their internal sense of purpose. Taking this path alone can be discouraging and demoralizing, but many young professionals are stepping up to the plate to act as role models. For instance, Los Angeles musician, entrepreneur and e-sports mogul Nick Gross teaches success through self discovery via his Find Your Grind Foundation. This organization pairs people aspiring for non-traditional careers with professionals, industry insiders and creative trend-setters who help them to find their unique passions and achieve their dreams.
As high school comes to a close and you reach the end of that part of your life, opportunities abound. The key is to take your time, respect the importance of the journey and listen to your intuition whenever possible. By doing so, you will come to the authentic purpose of your life and have a chance for true happiness.