4 answers

Have you ever felt lost when considering what career path to take?

Updated San Jose, California

Did you already know what career you wanted to pursue at an early point in your life, or it take time? How long did it take? How did you know you wanted the career you currently have an how did you come across knowing? #career #career-paths #life

4 answers

David’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

Hi Norma! Yes, and I can confidently say that pretty much anyone I've ever known has - at some point - felt like they didn't know what to do with their life. Completely normal.

Some people choose careers (doctors, for example) that put you on a pretty straightforward path. But many people have no path before them except what they create (myself included). And that makes it hard.

But there are three things you can do to make it easier:

1) Do something.
It's far better to actually do something than to wonder about many things. What it is almost doesn't matter -- be a clerk at a pharmacy, an low-level employee at a large corporation, or a volunteer at a non-profit.... it really can be anything. What is important is that it gets you experience and gets you outside of your head.

2) Learn. Pay attention to what you like and dislike about what you're doing. It's not all going to be roses. There is going to be hard work with anything. There are going to be ups and downs with anything. But by gaining experience, you really learn what you like and don't like and whether there may be a future in what you're doing.

3) Record and Repeat. When you're young - try many different things. Take advantage of breaks from school as a way to try something new without feeling bad. (You don't have to quit, since there are defined time limits that people respect.) At the end of each experience, take time to record what resonated. You may find that there are common threads.

For me, personally, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. However, I ran the gamut in terms of jobs I've held (pharmacy clerk, janitor, environmental volunteer, grocery clerk, help desk admin, retail associate, college admissions, retail manager, to name a few.) Throughout my jobs, that I loved technology, interacting with people, and educating people on new things. Working in sales and marketing is a by-product of knowing what I enjoyed and didn't enjoy.

Your dream job is finding the perfect job at the perfect company. Getting a lot of experiences while you're young will get you ahead of the game.

PS - Since having every experience possible isn't realistic, I also recommend getting coffee and lunch with as many folks as you can to understand what they do. I learned, for example, that getting a law degree wasn't what I wanted to pursue. (While I probably would have learned that as a paralegal, a lunch was a lot quicker!)

Updated
Thank you so much for the advice Mr. DiGiammarino, it really means a lot.
Updated
You're very welcome Norma! Best of luck -- I'd be interested in what experiences you do over the next 6 months. It's easy to read a response online, and much more powerful to act on it!
Updated
This post basically says it all. Get out in the world (you don't have to travel internationally, just as an expression) and do some things that you haven't done before. This introduces new ideas to you and you get an idea of what you like, what you don't, what you're good at, and what you aren't.

Paul A’s Answer

Updated Yorba Linda, California

Hi David! Good question? Lost lots of times! What you want to remember is that life is a journey and not to get to get locked into a destination to soon. I'm more random my wife more practical. I dislike structure and love to trail blaze. My wife likes security. I like freedom and flexibility. My point is the career is less important then becoming more self aware. I didn't know the questions or the answers to the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" My career adventures far exceeded any early realistic career considerations or expectations. My point is how would you answer the following questions: Are you a trail blazer or security oriented? Which are more important aspects of work activities for you - people, data or things! Mine would be 95% people, 4% data and 1% things. Suggest reading What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles. Relax and think of the trip as an adventure. I had six jobs the 1st two years out of college

Gary Stephen’s Answer

Updated Harlingen, Texas

Hi, That is a great question and probably one that is always on our minds. You have some really good answers above, I thought I would add a few comments.
I have changed career paths at least 3 times in my life, for me my career is built on what I am currently doing in my job, what I have done and what I hope to do or learn in the future. I have learned that careers do not fit into 'boxes' and can always be changing and different than what we expect so the best advice I can offer is always be willing to learn and change your path, even if it is just a minor change. Your career is also unique to you and depends on your interests, skills and abilities. The difference between a career and job is often in our minds and how we feel about what we do...my wife and I have discussions about this all the time, she has done her job for 10 years and does not consider it a career. I have done my job for only 3 years but it is on my career path and I consider it to be a career. Good luck, Gary

Matt’s Answer

Updated Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Hello Norma C. you have a fantastic question here that most people have. Life is full of questions like this and I understand how you feel because I myself have been and somewhat still am in the same situation at age 26.
My advice to you is simple, figure out what makes you happy in life and find a way to make a living doing just that. If you don't know exactly what it is that you can do to make a living out of it, do like David said above^^^ and you will figure it out along the way. Just remember that you can do anything you want with your life so don't be afraid to go out and live your dreams :)