Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What Should I Do With My Life?

It's one of the smaller questions of the universe, but perhaps the largest in any individual's life: what should I do?

When you're a kid, the question is exciting, having none of the burdens of financial independence attached but being all about desire: "what do you want to do?" And there's a nice long time frame for you to decide: "...when you grow up?"

Then you grow up and the "want" becomes "need," and somehow we're less sure than we were as kids, probably because greater information makes greater uncertainty.

Not that we have any less passion or desire about doing certain things. When you graduate college, you've spent arguably the last 8 years of your life figuring out who you are. You know what you like. The question "what should I do?" is a lot more complicated now because it's asking about the balance of things: can I combine this passion with that passion somehow, and if so, will it be financially viable? Will I be able to work in the kind of job I like over here without violating the principles I hold in that other area of my life?

Nowadays people aren't taking a job and sticking with it forever. In fact, most take a job expecting to move on in a few years. Millennials are more concerned than previous generations about having a sense of fulfillment in their work. If they're not happy, they'll leave a well-paying job to start something new.

In light of that, what you do doesn't have to be permanent. You can change your mind. You can even go back to school again. You don't have to like your first choice.

In other words, just pick something.

It's not the answer you want to hear, but it's by far the least stressful. I know you're afraid of not making it and having to move back home. I know you want to find that "perfect fit" job as soon as possible. You also know you're not totally sure what the perfect fit looks like because you don't have much experience in the working world.

I thought I liked the small office feel. I predicted correctly that the tons-and-tons-of-employees setting wasn't a good match for me. The resultant corporate red tape stifles my creativity and large groups of people sap my energy. But ultimately, even a small office tires me out. Working for myself has been the best fit, since I'm highly self-motivated and disciplined and can most stretch my creative muscles by myself.

I didn't know that until I tried a few things first.

If you like fashion, you're savvy with technology and social media, and you're an artsy person, you might think being an at-home fashion blogger is the best fit for you. The problem is you can't break into fashion blogging and make money immediately. Plus you're not completely sure.

So just pick something. Work for a company as their social media consultant. Sure it's not fashion and it's not creative, but it pays money and it'll help you see what you do and don't like about working in social media. You may love it, or you may move on after a bit and find a job you like better, armed with experience and connections to get you there.

You don't have to hate your first job. But it doesn't need to be the perfect fit either. It's possible to both partially like and dislike a job. It's possible to work at something that's not your first love but not your last love either.

Pick something. Learn about yourself. And if you need to, pick again.

Word count: 605.