How to Decide on a Career?

Postby Lost&Lonely » Tue May 26, 2015 2:57 pm

Hello forumers. This is my first time posting on this site, but I really do feel that the people here and the help that has been given has made me bold enough to finally reach out for help myself. I don't expect sound advice but do appreciate those who at least listen, so please here me out:

I don't know what to do for a career in my life.
I dont have dreams, I'm not ambitious, and I lack drive.
This leads me to becoming lazy, unmotivated, and uninterested in most of my subjects.
Most things bore me, and I lack empathy for my school grades. I just don't care much for them because I have no interest in school and mostly because I don't know what I want, therefore leading to my lack of direction.
What source, book, or anything, do you recommend to help me find that one thing in life that I passionately want to actually do?

Now, you may ask why I'm bringing this up. Well, I have finally decided that after 3 years of dilly-dallying in community college and failing in classes, that I was finally going to be serious about my life. Just one problem though: I didn't know what to be serious about. So here I am, looking for some kind of advice or tips on how to find a "dream." I secretly envy those who, since young have already known what path to pursue. There too was a time I had chilhood dreams of becoming a doctor, but that quickly disappeared once I fully understood what being a doctor was really like. I actually wish I still had those chilhood fantasies just so I could have actually pursued a career and would have at least earned a decent living. My lack of empathy and drive because of this absence of a dream has been so bad lately that I have actually failed a class twice, and have failed two other different classes in the past semester. I don't even know how I still manage to have a 2.6 GPA when the past year has been nothing but pure sh**. Don't get me wrong, I don't really think I'm stupid, even though I have honestly questioned myself about the possibility of me being stupid. But clearly something is wrong. In high school I was in the honor roll, but right now I'm in the toilet roll. Okay, lame jokes aside, I really do need help.

Here's a rough idea of how I'm going to address the situation:
I want to spend at least a month investing my time in thorough research about the life I want to live and engage in a lot of serious, well-thought-out descision making.
Some kids my age go to the web and answer these personality or career quizes under 20 minutes and expect to finally know what they want to do in life. But shouldn't a career choice, which is an important part of your life that will indefinitely influence the rest of your life and the kind of life you would be leading, be given much more conscious thought and deep thinking than just simple online tests? Besides reading self-help books (which there is an overwhelming amount available on Amazon), I really don't know what else to do. Any recommendations on the book I should be reading, tips, and tricks? SEND HELP!
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Postby Anders » Tue May 26, 2015 5:09 pm

Hey Lost&Lonely, I've just read your post and I really get you man. It is tough to have something that you just 'know' you have always wanted to do. I think people like that are rare, and I think that so many people try to set themselves that ultimate goal: to be as motivated and excited as those rare, naturally motivated people. Now, I'm not saying that it is impossible to become motivated and excited, but rather that your own motivation and excitement doesn't have to look the same as theirs.

What I would urge you to do, is to look not only at your professional interests, but also at your hobbies. What you choose to do when you aren't working is always a good indicator of what excites you. If this is something like gaming, maybe think about how to situate yourself in writing for a tech magazine or something like that, or even just interning at a company that sells / reviews / manufactures the stuff that you use in your hobby. So drawing your passion from your hobby will perhaps motivate you enough to stick with a job and get some good experience.

Let me know what your hobbies are, and maybe we can search around a bit at jobs in that area. Also let me know what your college major subjects are, because you can use them to apply to jobs!

Hope this helps in some small way - if not, just know that I feel your pain. It is a tough situation to pull yourself out of.
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Postby WonderGurl » Thu May 28, 2015 10:07 pm

I'd say start off by developing self discipline skills.

To find out what you are passionate about you will have to try lots of different things before you come across that which you find pleasure pursuing. On the other hand, some paths may take too much time and practice to learn whether you are interested in them, such as, being a medical doctor or a lawyer. In those cases you will need to do your research to find out what it entails.

Motivation will not just flood you when you find out what it is you love to do. You need to be able to self motivate. Learn to motivate yourself to put a decent effort in your studdies and use it as self discipline exercise. If you are unable to commit and complete mundane tasks now, nothing will change when you decide what it is you'll pursue in life. You'll still be lazy and waste your precious time. Read about self discipline, motivation, etc. because these are probably your biggest road blocks right now.
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Postby madkhaos » Fri May 29, 2015 2:35 pm

WonderGurl said it best. A career is a long road to follow, so you must be prepared before you make that decision. It is much different from a job which you can hop back and forth and in between different fields. A career is a commitment, and what she said about Self Discipline, Motivation and Personal Development are all true. Learn to focus in those areas and let a career pick you. What do you have the Desire to do ? What do you want to obtain the most knowledge in ? and What are you current skills ? Good luck in your journey, let us know your progress...
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Postby Dennis Vasiliev » Fri Jun 05, 2015 5:25 pm

Hey, Lost&Lonely. You are right. The career decision alongside with marriage are the most important in life. However, you can never be 100% sure. That was my biggest problem for a long time. I always envied people who know their passion from the very young age. Basically, I tried a lot, thinking "this will be my path" and changed it couple of times until arrived at my final destination. Is this my final step? Who knows? That's why you will have to try a lot of things until you will be able to stop somewhere. Here is some tips and resources I would recommend:

1. Decide exactly what you want. Think about what you are good at, what you like to read about, what you will do anyway if you don't get paid?

2. Think about your hobbies at the age between 7-13. Ask your parents. This may be the good indicators of that you have genuine passion for.

3. Write down a list of what you would like to do, what you are good at and what you like to research and read about. Combine those lists and look for a kind of job to match all of them.

4. Try something at least 10 times before you give up. I bet Michael Jordan didn't felt like a champion from the first shot he ever took. It's hard in the beginning. Spend enough time to get good at it and then decide.

In terms of good materials on this subject I would recommend "21 Ways To Get The Job You Really Want" by Brian Tracy. I believe it's FREE Video Series at his website. Just google it. Good Luck!
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Postby Cpt Yossarian » Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:54 pm

what I did was cut out many jobs and put them into a hat and pulled one out at random. That's actually a true story. I got a job. I get money. but so what?
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Postby ahung » Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:34 am

All excellent suggestions Dennis.

However isn't there an inevitable problem for almost everyone who has chosen a career, even a happy one that matches their interests?

Let's say someone realises she is happiest as a graphic designer (draws in her spare time, spent every breathing moment in childhood designing characters, etc.).

Eventually, though, to survive in her career, she *must* be promoted to a more senior management role, or she will lose her job and her career. Someone younger, with fresher ideas, more energy, will always come along to do the 'technical' work that she enjoys.

So isn't it true that even though she hates 'managing'- hates meetings, and paperwork, and managing office gossip, and wrestling in Machiavellian snakepits of office politics- isn't it true that all happy careers must end in disillusionment, at the expense of losing a livelihood altogether?

Any ideas or pointers on 'managing' a late-stage career?
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Postby Dennis Vasiliev » Fri Jul 03, 2015 2:06 pm

That is a great question, ahung! I thought about it for a little bit.

I see 2 major problems here:
1. Some people hardly move up the corparate ladder to a new position. They got promoted because they were exellent of what they were doing on the previous position. Now, they have new responsabilities and tasks to do on a daily basis. However, they always tend to move down the laddder because they are comfortable doing that they are good at. They refuse to get good at their new tasks and responsabilites.
Example: Have you ever experienced that, you can't do smth and you ask your manager about it, he doesn't have to do it, but he jumps right at it and does it all instead of you. He feels good doing things that he's good at, even though, right now he should plan, manage staff or check inventory.
Solution: Refuse to move back on the "corporate ladder" once you got promoted, accept your new responsibilities and delegate old ones.

2. Some people have a different problem. This might be closer to what you're talking about, ahung. They are good at smth, they love it and even though they have to move up or down the laddet, they just want to keep doing what they are doing. The greatest salesman, Ben Feldman, refused to become a "sales manager" because he just loved to sell.
Solution: Hire other people to do the job that you don't want to do. Secretary, personal assistant, managers. A lot of CEO (I would say the majority of them) were hired because people who founded the company didn't wan't to do all that "crappy" work that CEO usually face. They wanted to invent and explore. Some people even pay others more than they pay themselves, only for them to eliminate the job they don't want to do.

Conclution: You have to ask in which category you fall in and then implement the solution based on your current situation.
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Postby egrizzly » Sun Jul 05, 2015 10:19 pm

Hello Lost&Lonely,

Maybe the motivation you need is not necessarily from professional career choice websites. It could be something natural like wanting to have the job of "that" one favorite movie character. Have you watched movies and seen the career of a certain movie character as "cool"? For instance, my cousin always liked Richard Geres' profession in the movie "Pretty Woman". Gere was an Investment Banker in that movie. It was just something about his swagger, wealth, power, and the way he carried himself that my cousin liked. He wanted to be like that Richard so he inquired about the profession of Investment Banking. He saw that he could pull it off and after completing a degree in Finance he works as an Investment Banker and is cool like Richard Geres character in the movie....basically fulfilled his dreams. Just thought I'd share.

Asides from the above story, take heart. You're GPA (2.6) even though you feel it sucks can still get you into some pretty good universities. From being in college I'll share a few things with you, it is the professional careers (lawyer, doctor, pharmacist, etc) that make the highest salaries. If you want to be wealthy, and are still young consider those career choices, THEN, from that list decide if you like working with numbers, math, and like to analyze things (left brained) or if you're visual, imaginative, creative and such (right-brained). That should narrow down your choice within that community of high $$ careers. Lawyers for instance are right-brained people while Pharmacists are left-brained thinkers.

If however, having the highest paying job is not important for you then just determine the left-brained, right-brained thing and pick your career choice from that. To be thorough, I would visit with a career counselor at a major college as they get people in this type of situation A LOT. When you do decide on a career to go after, do take heart and know that taking the journey is fun as you're taking it with others who share the same dreams/goals.
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Postby Candid » Sun Jul 05, 2015 11:44 pm

Lost&Lonely wrote: I don't expect sound advice but do appreciate those who at least listen

Hahaha, you've rumbled us. :D

I don't know what I want, therefore leading to my lack of direction.

I actually wish I still had those chilhood fantasies

I'll include my usual go-to, if only to rule it out. You might be about to get your eyes open to something rather horrible in your family of origin.

Emotional abuse signs and symptoms

Delayed or inappropriate emotional development
Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem
Social withdrawal
Headaches or stomachaches with no medical cause
Avoidance of certain situations, such as refusing to go to school or ride the bus
Desperately seeks affection
~ ... n-20033789

In high school I was in the honor roll, but right now I'm in the toilet roll. Okay, lame jokes aside...

I :thumbsup: it. A sense of humour is a great asset ... except where it masks self-hatred, in which case it may also mean passive-aggressive digs at other people.

shouldn't a career choice, which is an important part of your life that will indefinitely influence the rest of your life and the kind of life you would be leading, be given much more conscious thought and deep thinking than just simple online tests?

TBH, if your education hasn't shown you what you enjoy and are good at, it's failed you. Either that, or you've had so much criticism from Significant Others that you feel helpless and paralysed. I had a 'main' career but took lots of breaks from it to try other things. You can always change your mind, you know.
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Postby ahung » Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:26 am


Yes, the 2nd case you mentioned is what I had in mind. Your solution is an interesting one, not easily attainable in every career but something similar could be applied, with enough persistence and imagination!

In fact your solution has inspired me to try to aim for exactly that.... to try and get into a position where I can pay someone else to take care of the boring distractions for me. They might even enjoy it! Everybody's happy. Like all great ideas, I'm wondering "Why didn't I think of that before?!" :)

I guess a 3rd solution (similar to your 1st one), is perhaps to try and apply what you love doing to the problems that you face while doing things that you don't enjoy. A creative who is not a 'natural' managerial type might apply some creativity to manage a team, or resolve a conflict, or negotiate a deal, etc.

egrizzly: That's a good point- looking at the lives of others might give us some idea of the life we'd like to lead ourselves. Even if those 'others' are fictional characters. This might be a good alternative to looking directly at career pathways.... instead, focus on the LIFESTYLE we want, and how to attain it, not just the typical highschool career counsellor's myopic list of career molds....
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Postby ishere » Wed Jul 22, 2015 11:14 pm

I hope you decide on a direction without going to hell and back to get there, I enrolled into an evening college course it not only helped to feel like I'd made up my mind but then also kick started it all off and since then I've not looked back
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Postby KyJhin » Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:15 am


I wish I could give you a condensed yet extremely meaningful, one paragraph answer but it's kinda not possible, haha.

Your career goals are subject to change. It's like an adventure. Are adventures straight lined and predictable? Well, they could be. But that would be an extremely boring adventure wouldn't it? Haha! Learn to love the unpredictability and learn to love trying new things!

An adventure is supposed to have ups and downs, detours and periods of storms and calm. As a young adult, what I believe you should do is actually go out and try different things. Doing an online career quiz, etc could be a good starting point, but nothing beats in field experience. Take Massive Action.

Get involved with different volunteer groups, committees, societies, etc. Go up to the most senior member and say to them "So why do you love what you do here? I'm just starting out on my own career path, and I wanna know your story."

This will get the ball rolling in your mind and you'll start coming up with new ideas as to what you may wanna do. And if what you wanna do isn't a job yet, well you could always be a pioneer and start it as a business! :)

I could go on for ages, but I'll leave it here, haha!
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Postby JasonB138 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:05 am

I am going to just ask you one simple question that will allow you to find your direction. What do you love doing so much that you can't wait to wake up everyday to do it? Whatever that is. That is your answer.
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Postby MyNameIsGina » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:05 am

Hi, Lost&Lonely.

Your story reminded me a bit of John Cleese the British comedian/actor's biography. He was a bit like you. He went through the motions in school, kind of enjoyed Latin, but what do you do with Latin for a career? He thought he "should" do law. So he did. But he had side hobbies. Namely, theater. It was just what he did with his friends, a silly extracurricular that he didn't take seriously. Well, by the time he graduated law school and got a stellar job offer in the field, he was offered a comedy writing job. With whom I don't remember, but it was also a great opportunity. That was sort of a decision-making turning point for him, to turn his back on law in favor of comedy, but all the events leading up to that time were somewhat accidental.

My parents grew up to become a nurse and a cop. Both, especially my mom, pretty much knew what they wanted to do professionally from quite young ages. Contrary to today, their choices were narrower. My mom came from a small town. My dad was thinking about a secure career to put bread on the table. Today, we have so many choices, and frankly -- though some may disagree -- our economy is such that we young adults feel safe enough to not decide for a while, to consider possibilities far and wide. The possibilities are daunting to many of us, including me.

I believe at some point, a nagging little voice in your head will get louder and tell you what you've always gravitated toward -- or maybe you haven't experienced what you like yet. Ever work with the elderly or disabled? Just an example from left field, but you probably haven't. You might not know it now, but you might feel very fulfilled performing such service. Adore animals? You don't need to become a vet, but you can lobby for animal rights by combining an interest in politics or law. A friend takes you for rock climbing and you fall in love with it. Years down the road you're an instructor and adventure guide.

Relax. Work "jobs" to pay the bills. Try new things regularly. Indulge in hobbies. Pursue your curiosity. Travel -- it's easier than you think, and if you work along the way, a lot cheaper/profitable than you'd think, too.

Oh, and those kids who think they already know what they want to do for 40 years? They will probably change their minds --if not now, then 3, 10, 20+ years down the road.

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