Playing the field?

When it comes to planning for your career, our elder says that’s OK.

Dear EWC:

Since I was a freshman in high school, I have felt I needed to major in and ultimately find a job in a certain field. As I come up on my freshman year of college, I am questioning how passionate I truly am for this field. This field is very geared toward my aptitudes and would provide me with an incredibly stable future. However, I believe my heart lies elsewhere, not quite sure where though. I feel like I’m letting myself and my family down in abandoning such a solid lead for my future. What factors should I be considering most in planning for my future?

Lawry replies:

I would be happy to answer your letter. I think it’s commendable that you are thinking ahead and planning. Many students just ride out their time in college with nothing in particular in mind to aim for. There was a time in my life that I questioned what I really wanted to do for a career. My father had one idea and I had another. I stuck to my wishes and that led into a successful career. I would like to share with you some of the things I did to get there.

An old book that I found very helpful and recently has been updated yearly is “What Color is Your Parachute” by Richard Nelson Bolles. You might find it at your local library. It is a wonderful tool when looking for a career.
One thing I did to help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life from a career standpoint was to take a career aptitude test and I found that to be a very helpful tool. Now, so much of that information is online and it could be very helpful to you. You can look up “career aptitude test,” “career test,” “career assessment,” for a few examples and you’ll find many tests/assessments that you can take for free online. This can help you to find the skills you have and to find something you would enjoy. I really think that doing this will allow you to clearly see a path to follow.

Another thought is to talk to friends and see if they have any ideas. Sometimes friends can see skills in us that we never realized we had. We are sometimes humble about what we are capable of doing. They know from past conversations and observations that you are really good in certain areas. There are other adults you may know with whom you can talk – whether that’s a family member, a friend of the family, someone from the religious organization to which you may belong, a teacher/counselor at your school. There’s a wealth of resources out there that we often forget about. Most people are happy to try and help.

One thing you can do if more than one thing appeals to you is make a list of pros and cons and see if that helps to sort things out for you. I have used that tool many times and it has always been very helpful. It’s important to be honest with yourself when you do this. If the results are too close, you can add a numerical value to each of your answers and that should help.

I hope that this has been helpful to you, and I wish you a great deal of luck as you move forward with your life. Think positive. I am a great believer in that. I firmly believe that you need to follow your heart and do what makes you happy. Yes, my father was disappointed that I didn’t take the career path that he wanted me to, but he got over it and was proud of what I was to accomplish after graduating. I would love to hear how things work out for you. I’ll be thinking of you.


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