It’s a beautiful thing to live in a world with so much opportunity. That being said, overwhelming option can amazingly lead to less decision making and more procrastination. With such a wide array of post-secondary programs, places to see in the world, and opportunity for internships, travelling, and volunteerism, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and instead choose nothing at all. I’ve narrowed this roadblock down to one of two things: Either you have access to many options and can’t choose one OR you see all the options before you but are constrained by lack of finances/support/knowledge and remain at a standstill.
Let’s talk about how you can begin to find a path for you, no matter where you are at. Baby steps my courage seekers, baby steps.
I’ve learned this through studying some of Dr. John Demartini’s work on The Values Factor. His point is that if we create goals and set out on a journey that is not aligned with our highest values, we are setting ourselves up for failure. I can identify with this as there have been goals that I have tried to achieve in the past where the outcome or the actions associated with the goal have not truly mattered to me enough to stick to it. If you can identify your highest values, you can begin to identify career paths or education that will align with those values – values are embedded in our behaviour, not in what we think we SHOULD value or what OTHERS suggest we should value. Find key themes among your answers to the following questions:
- How do you fill your space? (what key physical things do you like to keep around you or in your home?)
- How do you spend your time?
- How do you spend your money?
- In what parts of your life are you most reliable?
- What dominates your thoughts?
- What inspires you?
- What do you most enjoy researching and learning about?
Give around three answers to each question and examine the responses to pick out obvious themes. These are your values. Mine were: Relationships, Personal Growth, Health/Wellness, and Security.
Once you understand your values and have identified a few fields of work that align with what you value most, do some research on folks in your community who are actually working those jobs. Contact them via email or phone to ask for an information interview. My example is when I decided to pursue life coaching, I got in touch with a coach I met with years ago and asked if she could spare 20 to 30 minutes of her time for a phone call. I prepared a list of questions prior to our call and made sure that within our conversation, I got a good sense of how she got started, what an average day looks like for her, and what her biggest challenges and triumphs have been. If you’re worried about reaching out to a stranger or hesitant to add to their busy schedules, remind yourself that the worst they’re going to say is ‘no,’ and in the case that they do, you just move on to the next person.
If you find what you think would be a good career path for you but would still like a hands on experience to base your decision on, reach out to companies for volunteer opportunities and brief internship roles. Be explicit about what you’re looking to gain from the experience – you are working for free so they need to be clear about how they can reward you for your efforts. Volunteer your time once or twice a week and immerse yourself in the company to get a feel for the setting. You could shadow someone, help with admin, or even just sit in on a few staff meetings. Some careers are not going to be directly accessible by a volunteer role but it’s worth a shot to get somewhat close to the front lines and surround yourself with folks whom you can unleash all your questions on.
At the end of the day, many people go through life and change their direction or career multiple times. Don’t feel as though you are choosing something that will last forever when you select a program or apply to a job. No experience is a wasted one. The less pressure you put on yourself, the more you will be able to enjoy the learning and progress you’re making. As long as you are investing in who you are, asking questions, and making progress instead of staying stagnant, you are achieving something great!
Just a reminder that you are worthy and beautiful! Go get em’