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How do you know what to do in life?

#career #life #teaching

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Subject: Career question for you

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Brandon’s Answer

Following Mary's answer, the key is to figure out something you enjoy doing/learning about both on an off the job. There are many jobs and careers that will make money but will leave you unfulfilled and dissatisfied at the end of the day. For example if you're passionate about writing, try making short stories in a ledger or on your phone/tablet. Learn a bit about literary prose and share your works online through a blogpost, Facebook, etc.


Then when you think you're ready or want to network, contact people who are in the writing field that you want to go into. Don't shoot for people like George RR Martin on your first go, just take it slow and work your way to the top through your friends, family, and community.

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Patricia R’s Answer

Kathy,
I see that it’s been a while since you first submitted your question, but I’ll give it a go, in case you’re still searching for new responses.

Even though interesting careers showed in the analysis of career-choice tests we took in school, my mind only gave me three choices: housewife, nurse, or teacher. In those days, (1950s and early ‘60s) those were the main career options for girls/women. Sure, there were women doctors and lawyers, but those choices did not seem to be mine. For one, I always believed I wasn’t smart enough to do one of those exciting jobs.

The thing was…. I didn’t know that I really had a choice. That’s the way society was at the time.

My favorite subjects in school were always math and science, and I loved to read, but I didn’t like reading class….boorring! With that information, I know a lot of jobs that would be open to me now. In modern times, girls and women have a bazillion examples of women in lots of different careers, from Park Ranger to data analyst, from home heath-care provider to taxidermist, etc., etc., etc.

You may have an idea of what you’d like to do, and many of us start with a general idea and gradually narrow our options. Others seem sure from a very young age. Some older adults approach retirement after 40+ years in the same profession, while others have had a career in one area, but have progressed through different levels of an organizational structure. Still others have been almost like professional nomads, traveling the world doing charity work, photography, or as a journalist.

My father was a career military man, so we moved a lot, and I went to different schools. My teachers in the early years were young, single women living and working in an American environment but outside the U.S. *That’s* what I wanted to do – teach overseas.

I did become a teacher/educator, and I did have an opportunity to teach outside the USA. I spent 6 years as a professor in a university in the Middle East, and it was a great experience! I was a single woman teaching in English in another country. BUT… I started when I was 60. Even though I had a chance to do what I’d always wanted to do, I was delayed by 40 years of child-raising, graduate school, and having other jobs in Education.

My advice:
• Find something you are passionate about.
• Figure out ways to do that (for free, even – at first, so you can see if you really like the job of doing it.)
• Find a way to get paid for what you’re doing.
• Find out how much and what kind of education you need to become a pro at it. (The education may not be at a college or university)
• Work your way to become very good at your job. (Learn more, do more, be open to new ideas, try new ways to do your job, etc.)

Oh… And don’t wait until you’re 60 to do what you’ve always wanted to do.
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Lisa’s Answer

This is a great question! One that many people have, so you are not alone! Thinking about what you like to do and your enjoyable skills (things you are good at that you also like doing) is a good first step.

1 - Brainstorm at least 10 accomplishments or activities you are proud of in your life so far. These can be at school, at a job, at home, with family or friends, on vacation, etc. They can be small or large. For example: Got an A on my senior report about climate change.

2 - Look at each activity and ask yourself: What did I enjoy about it? For example: I liked learning and researching different ideas. I liked learning about climate change, I really care about that.

3 - Write down the skills or strengths you used in each? Researching. Good at finding information. Good at taking notes. Good at creating tables for the report.

After you do this for all of your accomplishments or activities, look at your answers.

4 - What interests, skills, and strengths come up repeatedly?

5 - Which interests, skills, and strengths stand out as most important to you?

Your answers to 4-5 can begin to point you in a direction in terms of both what you like to do and what you are good at doing. Have fun and good luck with this!

Lisa recommends the following next steps:

Take some time to do this exercise. It's not something to rush through. Don't get discouraged if you can't come up with 10 items right away. Just write down what comes to mind, and as you work on it, other thoughts will come up. It's ok if you have to come back to it a few times. But try to get to at least 10...and it's ok to have more than 10 too!
Then discuss the exercise and your responses with a relative or friend you trust. Discussing and thinking through your interests and skills with another person can be very helpful. They may see things that you don't and be able to offer an additional perspective.
Consider working with a career counselor. Your school likely has someone who does this with students. You can take this exercise with you as a starting point for discussion.
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Simeon’s Answer

In general, I would go to the department of labor's website (https://www.dol.gov/) and see which fields are growing quickly these days. If you're drawing a blank on what you'd like to do, see if any of the fast growing fields call out to you. This will give you a lot more structure than trying to get a vague sense of your passions and trying to brainstorm a way to turn it into money. Most people don't have a passion that they are aware of right away. Also, passions tend to change from season to season. Lastly, look at videos on YouTube of people in their careers talking about what they love and hate. See if any of their descriptions sound like a good fit for you. It's just as important to figure out if you can deal with the downsides of a job as it is to figure out what you'd love about a job.
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Mary’s Answer

Choose something that you have a real interest in, not something to just make money.

Mary recommends the following next steps:

What kinds of books do you read? Don't omit any of your interests. Also, understand that you may have several careers in your lifetime.
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Prasanna’s Answer


It helps to connect with people who inspire you and see how they went about career planning and finding their true purpose.
1. Self awareness: Discovering what areas interest you and fulfill you.
2. Community/ Groups: Plugging into professional groups or connecting with people who are your role models in your community
3. Volunteering or internships will help you assess your skills, development areas and fit
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