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How do we know what to do in life?

When should we start to know what we want to do? #career

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Cindy’s Answer

What a challenging question to ask and answer. When I think back to when I was 16 years old, I thought I'd be a nurse like my mother. I took some vocational classes and changed my mind, being a nurse wasn't for me. Then when I graduated 12th grade, I thought maybe I'd pursue being an accountant. Took some classes and knew that wasn't for me either. Because there was no passion for anything else, I dropped out of school and got a job in retail. For several years, I worked my way through many roles in retail and got into management. Left retail and joined the corporate world and realized 15 years after high school that I was ready to get a business degree. The reason for my long story is to show that the journey to knowing what to do in life isn't a step-by-step process and isn't one that you'll grab on to immediately. For me, I went through several roles and responsibilities at multiple companies before I truly found my passion and what I wanted to do. This involved trying and experimenting with many different roles until I discovered I enjoyed training and teaching, plus I was good at being a leader and manager. These realizations took 10-15 years for me to find and I want to encourage you to experiment yourself. If you don't know what to do today while you're young, ask your friends, teachers, or parents what they think you'd be good at. Take a few classes and do some research from their recommendations. The best part is that while you're young, you have time to figure this out. I'm fortunate that I did learn this by the time I was 35 years old and was able to pursue this career for the last 15 years, and enjoyed the heck out of it at the same time. Try new things that interest you and I'm sure one day, you'll look back and see that you've figured this out and you've found quite a good career for yourself.

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Blake’s Answer


This is a very common question that many ask and it's okay to not have it figured out yet. To answer your question, there isn't a set in stone time that you should have it figured out by. Some people take a career path that their parents took, or that someone that influenced them took. Others don't decide until they are out of college or later in their adult life. I think that the most important thing to do is to take a career interest survey online to help guide you in making that decision.


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Emily’s Answer

Hi Sammi!

I think this answer really depends on the person and their experiences. Someone could get inspired at a young age to follow a certain career path. Others at that same young age may be coached and guided by their family into a certain career. Still others may not find true motivation until later, sometimes much later, in life. Essentially, everyone is different.

Keeping with that thought, everyone can have a different approach if they haven't found their inspiration yet. In my opinion, a good approach here would be to make a list of activities you like to do, and the different attributes to them. For instance, you could like soccer. While the initial thought here might be a professional soccer career or coach if you're passionate about soccer, but this activity also involves things such as being in a team environment, collaboration, diligence, physical activity, and teaching others. Math, as another example of something someone could enjoy, involves analyzing data and using logic to find answers to questions. Alternatively, an interest in Math could be due to an interest in finance and money-oriented. All of these details can help you build a greater understanding of what exactly you like about the activities you enjoy, and what you're looking for in a career.

Once you have a list of qualities, skills, and activities you like, then search for careers that involve some, all, or a combination of what you enjoy. If this seems like a daunting task, take it slow and explore careers more generally. For example, here's a general search about the top current jobs:

Take a look and see if any of these align with what you're looking for. If you like the idea of one of them, dive into them further and see what other options are available. It may also be helpful to consider what kind of lifestyle you'd like, and the average income of someone in that field of interest, as well as which colleges or schools offer tools or programs for what you'd like to pursue. If you have a geographical preference, this may be also be something to take into consideration.

If you get your list from the activities you enjoy and feel unsatisfied and uninspired by your list, then think of what activities you haven't done yet or have been wanting to do, and see what kind of qualities you can draw from there.

If your skills seem out of reach, start small and see if you can make a realistic plan to get where you'd like to be. Those small steps can take you great places!

Keep in mind interests can change and people change over time. You may follow a certain path for a while and discover more about yourself and more of your interests. Some people don't find their true calling until late in life. Again, this just depends on the person and your experiences. I do find it helpful to reevaluate ones interests and career every now and then to see if you're on the path you'd like to be on, and make adjustments, if needed.

Have fun with it as you explore yourself and your options.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!