Has anyone ever told you to “follow your dreams”? If you know exactly what you want to do with your life, this is great advice.
But what if you don’t have a clue? How can you follow your dreams if you don’t eve know what career you want to pursue?
Our advice is simple — don’t panic! When it comes to finding your ideal career, it’s worth taking your time. Otherwise you could end up working a terrible, useless job that would make you feel dead inside.
Here are four reasons why it’s OK to embrace career uncertainty.
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1. It gives you the chance to become more self-aware
Taking time to get to know yourself means you’re less likely to get stuck in a career you don’t enjoy.
Tools that are handy for exploring your personality traits, talents and weaknesses include Myers Briggs personality tests and career matching tools like the Prospects Planner.
If you’re struggling to come up with careers that appeal, try asking yourself whether there are any jobs that you definitely wouldn’t want to do and why. Analysing your answers could help you move closer to discovering what you do want to do.
It’s also worth exploring your motivations for working.
Do you see your career simply as a way to earn money or would you prefer a career that requires all of your time, energy and passion? What are your priorities in life? Would you be willing to sacrifice family time, earnings or regular hours to fulfil your ambitions?
2. It forces you to explore alternative options
When you’re struggling to decide on a career, it’s tempting to stick to traditional professions like law, accountancy, medicine or teaching. However, if you pursue a career just because it’s well regarded, you might end up regretting it.
Instead, why not take the time to explore a broader range of career options before you commit yourself to any expensive training? Even if you know you want to work in a particular industry, you might not be aware of the variety of roles on offer.
For example, if you’re keen to pursue a career in health but you don’t want to be a doctor or nurse, there are plenty of equally fulfilling options available.
These include becoming an audiologist, an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, a radiotherapist, an optometrist, a pharmacist or a paramedic.
3. It motivates you to gain knowledge and experience
While you explore your options, make the most of every opportunity to talk to friends or family members who already do the jobs you’re interested in.
If you don’t know anyone, forge a few relevant connections on LinkedIn, follow companies you’d like to work for on social media, network with their employees and join industry Facebook groups where you can ask for tips and advice.
Once you have some idea of the direction you’re heading in, it’s also worth gaining practical experience.
Short internships and volunteering opportunities here or abroad could help to narrow down your choices, as well as looking great on your CV.
4. Work is changing anyway
Employees are already likely to work for six different companies throughout their career, according to a recent survey. The same survey also found that 46 per cent of workers will quit and re-train completely after deciding their career isn't for them!
As the world of work changes and the days of doing one job for life fade away, employers will look for people who are adaptable, multi-skilled and willing to work across disciplines.
If you don’t have a particular career in mind, this flexible approach to jobs allows you space to explore your options, experience a variety of roles and embrace change.
Advances in AI, 3D printing, automation, nano technology and biotechnology are also predicted to have an enormous impact on the job market in the near future.
Old jobs will disappear, brand new ones will take their place and employees will need to become lifelong learners to keep up with developments.
According to Sir Dominic Cadbury, Chief Executive of the Cadbury Schweppes empire in the eighties, “there is no such thing as a career path – it’s crazy paving and you lay it yourself”.
The process of exploring career options may seem messy and time consuming, but by taking our tips on board, you’ll take control of your future and find fulfilment in a rapidly changing world.
Anna Louise Whitehouse writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.