How do you determine what you want to do with your life? How do you decide what you intend to do with the rest of the year’s that you’ll spend on this earth? There’s a book, Mastery by Robert Greene, that talks about how some of humanity’s most accomplished individuals arrived at the apex of their careers, masters of their fields. Greene discusses the fact that people who are genuinely gifted with intelligence aren’t often very successful because they’re good at so many different things. The ones of us who succeed are those persons who exhibit gifts and talents in one particular realm or the ones who work really hard at perfecting one particular skill set. So, how does a person decide what career he/she will pursue?
I wanted to be a lawyer when I first entered college. Then, I thought I wanted to be a U.S. Marshall. After that, I considered being a manager at Kroger or perhaps even a minister. I decided that none of those occupations would’ve given me the joy and peace that I seek to maintain. So, with four years of college under my belt, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. How do people decide? There’s really no concrete answer to that I suppose, but what I was told (once I had grown desperate enough to ask for help) is to consider what job I would do if money was not a factor. If everyone was paid the exact same wages, what job would I enjoy doing each day that I could wake up and feel good about each morning? That narrows the field down quite a bit.
Once you’ve decided what you would and wouldn’t do for free, take a career aptitude test and/or a personality test to get you pointed in the right direction. The internet is home to all the tests you think you might want to take.
Another good rule of thumb to help you choose a career path is to determine what you’d like to be doing in five years. Decide where you might want to live, or what you want to have learned and accomplished within the next five years. Set the goals and begin the research and the work. Once you begin pursuing that goal, you’ll have gotten the wheels moving and the momentum will carry you. You may not have reached that destination in five years, but you will have moved farther along, learned things you didn’t know, and you’ll look back at those last five years and realize that you aren’t in the same place that you once were. Set goals and keep chugging along toward accomplishing the goals you set.
Above all, don’t get discouraged! The world isn’t against you and you can have more than you currently possess, but you can’t quit and you can’t be stagnant. The world will not bend for you, alone, to succeed. Therefore, you’ve got to learn the game as quickly as possible, then get out and play. In Mastery, Robert Greene puts it another way:
In the future, the great division will be between those who have trained themselves to handle these complexities and those who are overwhelmed by them—those who can acquire skills and discipline their minds and those who are irrevocably distracted by all the media around them and can never focus enough to learn.
There is still a future after today and there is still time to get to wherever it is you’d like to be. We each have to choose our path wisely, focus, and invest time and energy toward getting to our destination.
Don’t forget that you are not alone in this struggle. In the Fall of 2012, there were roughly 20 million students enrolled in one of America’s 4,000+ degree-granting institutions (Digest of Education Statistics). Add that to the number of people around the world who are also pursuing livelihoods and you’ve got billions of folk that are all chasing a dream, just like you. This is your wake up call. This is your reminder that there is a path out there waiting to be traveled. You may have to delete your social media apps for six months to help you focus. You may have to give up alcohol for a year to clear your mind. It may take you leaving some associates behind to embark on your journey and you may have to travel alone for some time, but a fulfilling career is within your reach. There is a job for you to do, even if you’ve got to create it.