The Hardest Question in Life

Get ready. I’m about to ask you the hardest question in the universe. This single question has stumped mankind for centuries. It has left high school students speechless and college students sobbing with regret. Prepare yourself. Here it comes…

How do I know what career is right for me?

Are you still standing? Can you breathe ok? Sorry to spring such a heavy question on you like that, but if I held it in any longer, I would explode.

Don’t roll your eyes like that. Keeping a powerful question like that inside is dangerous. Trying to answer it is pretty dangerous too. So you all have to help me find an answer! (I’m too good a friend to keep all the danger to myself). 🙂

If you think I’m exaggerating, then you’re either lucky enough to stumble upon that elusive thing called a career, or you’re too young to know what it’s like to have that question crushing your soul.

As kids, we have a hundred great ideas about what we want to be when we grow up. There’s no problem in our minds with our plan to be a world-famous basketball player and a world-class violinist (that’s not a weird combination at all). Oh yeah, and in our spare time we’ll paint amazing pictures and learn to fly a plane and take ourselves to all the countries in the world. We won’t need a translator considering we speak all foreign languages. But we can’t stay away too long or the 27 horses on our ranch will miss us.

You get the picture. Nothing is impossible in our kid minds. But then we get older and realize that learning things takes work, or that maybe we enjoy the idea of doing something but not actually doing it, so our list of career possibilities shrink.

Then some well-meaning adult (or adults) tell us that what we want to be is too difficult or isn’t something we’d make money from and our list shrinks even further. Or maybe even disappears. Or even worse, is replaced by someone else’s list.

It might help if I gave you a little back story so you can see where this tirade is coming from. But since back story is boring, I made it fun and put it in an infographic.

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Why thank you. It was quite an amazing illustration of my life. Oh, you said, “That was a long infographic.”  I though you said, “That was a lovely infographic.”

Well of course it was a long infographic! It was a long journey.

And it still isn’t over. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. 🙂

Do I really want to spend time and money going to college for something that I don’t really want to do and either be stuck doing it for the rest of my life or end up doing something completely different and wasting the degree?

On the other hand, do I want to get into a huge debit for a degree that won’t pay off (like anything in the arts)?

Ultimately the question I’m wrestling with is, “How do I know what career is right for me?”

Since this is too big of a question to answer myself, I thought I’d open it up to you guys.

No, you don’t have to tell me what my perfect career is (though if you happen to know please tell me). 🙂 I want to know how you got into your careers. What helped when you were searching for that right thing for you. Or what do you wish you would have done differently?

If you don’t have career, what do you want to do? How did you decide on that?

Thanks for letting me spill my guts to you. You guys are the best! 😀

 

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29 thoughts on “The Hardest Question in Life

  1. Megan, as a child and teen I thought I would be a nurse. I loved books about nursing; my mother also guided me into thinking I would be a nurse. I was only the second person in my extended family to graduate high school so you see my parents dreamed big dreams for me. I don’t ever remember deciding not to be a nurse. I don’t remember deciding to be a teacher. I just took doors that were opened to me. All I can believe is that I was guided by the Holy Spirit to end up in a career in which I excelled and loved. Now far past my career years, I see how wrong nursing would have been for me! Maybe I’ll go into more detail in a blog some day. I think the Bible says, “Commit your way unto the Lord, and he will bring it to pass…” Sometimes I use the “Which choice will I have peace in?” to help me. Sometimes I just trust God to close doors that I shouldn’t enter and open the ones I should. There are many interest inventories and guidance counselors who can help now also. The best to you, dear. Music, writing, accounting, home decorator, dog catcher. I’ll be interested in your decision.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! That’s some of the best advice I’ve received. I think that the doors that are open in our lives aren’t random. It’s good to have a plan, but it’s also good to be able to go down the paths put before you. Trying to figure out what to do with my life is a tough decision, but it helps a lot to remember that God has it all in His hands. 🙂

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  2. This is a great post. Great idea to use the infographic. I might do that in one of my posts next time. 🙂
    As a child, I wanted to be astronaut. Haha then moved to teacher-doctor, then in college I wanted to be a journalist but got stuck in Biology course. Haha
    I joined the school publication to satisfy my frustration. Worked as a biology and English teacher, then ESL teacher and now-a blogger. Haha fulfilling my journalistic dream while being a Stay-at-home-mom. Haha

    Advice: stick to the one that you really love or where you are gifted at. In the end, that’s where you will be blessed financially and in skills. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an idea! That does sound like fun. And why not get paid for something I already do (sort-of)? 😀 I have no idea how to get into something like that. Would I need a degree in marketing?

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    1. True. No one has the perfect job when they first start out (not that any job is perfect). Sometimes you need to follow your gut, and life will lead you to where you need to be. Thanks for the advice!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A long and lovely infograph. Thank you!

    Like others, I suppose, I kind of backed into what I’ve been doing most, professionally. Though I had some earlier experiences in teaching, it wasn’t until graduate school that I had my first ongoing bout as a teacher. (Sorry, I don’t mean to make it sound like an infection.) To pay the bills, I was a teaching assistant and later a teaching fellow. I taught writing and literature to mostly first-year undergraduate students. What I learned from my first years doing this was that I could be on the students’ side. And not enough teachers were. I also discovered that college teachers are nearly uniquely untrained to teach. So I took courses and attended workshops, eventually completing a major in pedagogy (i.e., teaching theory). Later on, I spent time teaching teachers and directing learning programs for all ages.

    Is there a lesson in all this about career direction? Maybe to be open to creative (okay, crazy) possibilities, especially if something about them resonates within.

    Any further conversing about this you might want or need, please simply let me know. I had advisors whom I thought would help me. All they said was, You’re a good student; do what you want. Flattering advice, maybe, but also useless.

    Looking forward to the next writing about the Stone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you’re really dedicated and passionate about what you do. That great! There aren’t enough college teachers out there like that. I think part of it isn’t the teacher’s fault but the system’s, but that’s a whole different discussion. 🙂
      Yeah, advisors can be helpful to some people, but some offer advice that is too vague, or they try to push you toward something that’s a sure success (not that I think anything is a sure success) like nursing or something in business. I don’t think it’s a good idea. It may be a market that is booming, but if it isn’t something you love you aren’t going to be very successful anyway.
      Being open to creative/crazy possibilities sounds like great advice! 🙂 When we’re trying to choose a career, we want to pick something that will guarantee our success. We want something that is safe (like something off the top paying career list). But since nothing can ever be guaranteed, we might as well be open to the crazy stuff that may open up and go with that if it’s what our gut tells us to do. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. Job markets rise and fall. You might as well find (or try) something that has some joy and satisfaction to it. You’re also right about the vagueness of advising. Which is why I took advising seriously–helping students to plan and to explore, advocating student plans with others when necessary. Seems as if you know the exploration-situation well. And about the system? Yes, that’s an entire conversation of its own.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I’m in the same boat as you! I’m a junior in college studying journalism and mass communication. Last year I went through a “major” crisis because I wanted to switch majors to either digital media or English. Now I’m wishing I made the switch to English. Communications is definitely more lucrative, but it’s not really my passion. Actually, I don’t know what my passion is! I have no idea what I’m going to do after I graduate which is really scary. I wish you all the best of luck; you aren’t alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be kind of scary and frustrating when you don’t know what you want to do and you feel like you have to decide right now. There’s a lot of pressure on college students. We not only have to worry about making good grades and keeping up with class work, but we have the weight of this decision that will affect the rest of our lives. If we make the wrong choice, not only have we wasted a few years and quite a few thousand dollars, but we are stuck doing something we don’t like for the rest of our lives (ok, I’m sure we can change to something else at some point, but it does get harder to switch careers or go back to school the older you get).
      We really want to choose the right thing for us, but it’s hard to know what that is except by trial and error. We pick a major, then once we get through the classes realize it isn’t for us. We pick another and repeat. Lots of students go through this. I wish we could skip college and go strait to internships, or maybe they should bring back apprenticeships. 🙂 Anything where you could work somewhere for a few months and decide if it was for you or not.
      Good luck with you major/career search too! I hope we both find what we are looking for. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely agree! The tough thing about college is so much money is on the line, and if you switch majors, you are spending even more money and putting yourself in more debt, so there’s the pressure to do something that will get you money, and maybe what you want to do or learned to do in college won’t make you a lot of money. It’s so frustrating that we are expected to know what we want to do when we are so young…how is that even possible?? I think apprenticeships would be a great thing. You could learn for sure if you want to do something before you spend the money learning it in college! Thank you Megan, good luck to you too, and I think that eventually you will end up with a job you love 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved this! Let’s see, when I was in elementary and high school I thought I was going to be an astronaut – that didn’t happen. In college I was going to be a journalist … okay, maybe that still might happen. In the interim, I’ve run a printing press, worked in a nursing home, was a brand manager for the number five drinks company in the world, and taught middle and high school English. In short, it has been a mess! Now I’m taking some time, at 48 years old, and trying to sort it all out … now I write. I wish you luck in your journey, but realize no matter what you choose it will change an evolve. I would also recommend reading Jeff Goins’s The Art of Work, as I wish I had read that before I started on my path! Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think every kid wanted to be an astronaut…it’s too bad there aren’t vacations to space or something, so childhood dreams could come true. 🙂
      Sounds like you were good at a lot of things!
      That’s good advice. No matter what we choose, life doesn’t remain stagnant; It keeps changing. Which is a good thing.
      Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ugh. I can feel this. A LOT. There’s so much pressure on me right now to think about my future career – and pick out my subjects accordingly. But I just have. no. idea. My strategy right now is to take everything, in case it helps me in the future at one point.

    …yup. Things don’t look too good right now XD.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha…sounds like a good enough strategy to me. At least you have a strategy. 🙂
      I would love if the last year or so of high school was just trying out a bunch of internship/apprenticeship type things. That way there would be a way to know if we like it or not instead of going to college and spending a bunch of money on it and THEN discovering we don’t like it.

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  7. You NEVER know!! Even if you find something you love, and you do it for twenty years, any minute something may come along that makes you shout “THIS is what I was meant to do!”

    In the meantime, I greatly enjoy writing and delivering pizza, although I haven’t delivered pizza in years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I guess there’s always something new about yourself to learn and life will never let you sit in one place for too long. I think if I delivered pizza, the smell would drive me crazy and I would have to eat it all. 😀

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