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How Can I Figure Out What To Do With My Life, When I Can’t Even Decide What To Wear?
Feb 16th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

How Can I Figure Out What To Do With My Life, When I Can’t Even Decide What To Wear?

Sometimes Classes Aren't Enough!

*First, thanks to a reader for suggesting this topic! <3

Perhaps you’re a student approaching the possible dreaded decision of what to do after high school.  Or, perhaps you’re in college and you haven’t declared a major yet. Okay, so let’s tackle these different scenarios.

You’ve already been asked about a million times what you’re going to do with your life, what college you’re going to attend, and/or what you would like to major in.  “Fun” isn’t exactly the answer most people would expect or appreciate, but you might have a little “fun” throwing it out there.  Lol.  “I don’t know,” is a viable answer, but most people don’t seem to buy into it.

You’ve been in college for two years, and you still don’t know what you want to do.  The four-year-plan seems to be looking more like the five or six-year-plan.  Now what?  Should you declare, even if you’re not sure you’ll be happy with your decision?

Here’s my best advice:

I’m not going to tell you not to worry about it, but I am going to tell you don’t spend too much time dwelling on it.  Plans can and do change, but having some kind of plan is helpful.

1.  Know yourself.  What are your interests?  Do you like to: Read, write, dance, sing, play a musical instrument, socialize, hibernate, debate, cook, play sports, paint, watch sports, sail, create science experiments…  Computers, films, fashion, the beach, photography, politics, your faith, warm weather, cold weather…

The more you know about yourself, the better decisions you can make.  If you want, make a list of you likes and dislikes.

2.  Be willing to explore.  You might think that you’d like to be a writer, but take the opportunity to try out different courses.  A cousin took a linguistics class her freshman year and fell in love with it.  She ended up getting a dual degree in business and linguistics.  Another friend was interested in being an English major, but she found that Art History were one of her most favorite courses.  Now she integrates Art History in her writing.  A family member uses www.ratemyprofessor.com and saw that an Archeology professor received high ratings.  He took the class and loved it.

Don’t be afraid to change majors. When I was touring colleges with my elder son we heard an admissions director say that 90% of all students change their majors.

3.  Use Internet and social media sites to learn about yourself, integrate your interests/passions, and connect with people.  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, MySpace are all great social media sites, but how are you using them?  If they’re just for socializing with friends, then you’re missing a huge component that could help you figure out what you want to do with your life, or at the very least, utilize a talent that you possess.  Nicole, who started www.wordforteens.com in 2007 when she was thirteen, uses her passion for reading and has created a highly successful YA book blog.  It includes author interviews, giveaways, reviews, and some cool personal interests – she’s a Johnny Depp fan. J  Nicole utilizes social media sites like Twitter (555 followers as of today) to share her thoughts and connect with readers/authors!  Pretty amazing!  Blogging is a great way to share your interests with others.  Anyone can utilize social media sites like Nicole has – to connect with other people who have similar interests.  Want to know more about scuba diving? Use social media to learn more and it is an effective use of your time to discover what you do and do not like about a topic.

4.  Take responsibility for the decisions you make.  Want to know how this connects with figuring out what to do with your life?  It may seem simple, but it’s not.  If you make poor choices, the consequences can be severe.  How can you have direction if you are getting into trouble, drifting, vegging, doing drugs, binge drinking?  I can’t begin to tell you how many incredible, bright teens/YA end up making poor choices and find themselves in such difficult situations that they can’t dig themselves out – at least not for awhile.  The key is to ultimately take responsibility for the choices you make and THINK FIRST!  Do something active, positive, even if that means going on a walk through the mall to figure out what kinds of things you like and don’t like.  And gasp – do it alone so that you’re not influenced by what a friend thinks.    

5.  If you’re passionate about something, pursue your passion.  Please, please be passionate about something.  Apathy is your enemy.  Care about something!  Dogs? Art? Music?  A family member loves film/multi-media.  We encouraged him to use his talents to: 1. Start his own business, which he did when he was fifteen.  2. To find a college where he could excel in this area.  We knew that if he really loved film, then he would need to integrate it into his academic life too.  He’s now at BU in the Business Honors Program and getting a second degree in Communications with a focus on film.  If you don’t utilize your passions in some way, you’re going to be awfully unhappy.  Whether you find a club, play intramural sports, take art classes, join an a cappella group, find some way to engage your passions.

5.  I’ve said it in other articles on this blog, but it’s important to mention here, find mentors/role models!  You want to be the best writer?  Great, a wonderful ambition – maybe you’re close, maybe you’re interested, but don’t know how to get started, or maybe you’ve already won awards or have been published. If you really want to excel, continue to grow and learn, choose top authors and read their work – study it, digest it, understand it to the best of your ability.  This goes for many things in life.

6.  Surround yourself with people who have the same interests, but aren’t so competitive that they can’t be supportive.  Negative, self-centered, egomaniacs have a tendency to surround themselves with people who reflect their beliefs or whom they can bully/boss around.  Choose your friends wisely.  Don’t give your personal power up to anyone! (Look for a future blog piece coming soon!)

7.  Volunteer.  I’ve known many teens/YA who have discovered what they want to do with their lives through volunteer  work.  Many have used these experiences to get paying summer jobs.  There are thousands of non-profit organizations, many through churches and synagogues, that are in desperate need for volunteers.  Ask around your high school or college – I am certain you can find a perfect match for you. 

And last but not least… 

8.  Your experiences can shape who you are, but they don’t need to define you.  Mistakes happen.  Hopefully the consequences of those mistakes won’t be life changing.  Learn from them and move on.  People don’t make decisions or changes because of fear.  Most fears are in a person’s head.  Ask yourself what is or isn’t real and then be willing to at least explore different possibilities. 

Hope this helps.  🙂 Liza

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