I always feel a sense of anxiety when someone asks “what do you want to do with your life?” As a child, this was an opportunity to be big, bold, and meaningful with your response. Most kids chose careers like the President, an NBA player, or a brain surgeon. My calling was to be a ballerina despite lasting only two years in dance classes.
In most circumstances, you become more realistic about your options once you get older and realize that there is not one perfect career path for you. There are so many directions you could go in that lead to completely different outcomes. This can make it scary to take even one step out of fear that you will go the wrong way.
Browsing Instagram is not the solution
We have so much visibility into the lives of others because we are so connected through social media. Just browsing Instagram, we see people at white coat ceremonies, teachers decorating their classroom, “influencers” traveling the world, and nannies spending time with their beloved children. When I see this, I always compare them to myself and question where I’m at in my life right now. I try to remind myself that social media is not actually a good view into someone’s life. Social media is fun to use but we should remember that it is only a highlight reel.
Our world (and work) is changing
Being paralyzed by choice is a recent problem created by our increasingly complex world. When I look to the past for answers, career choices seem to be more straightforward. Most people ended up working in whichever field their family business was. This is sometimes true today, but definitely is not the norm like it used to be. There is much more visibility into all of the factors, options, and complexity in our world.
It is important for me to navigate my career to be meaningful and impactful in some way. This is definitely common in younger generations. We grew up learning about problems such as global warming, inequality, and discrimination. This has made an impact on how we view the world and our roles. While I was in school, I felt extremely lost trying to find a career that would pay me well and contribute to a solution to some of these issues. While I clearly had great intentions behind this, I came to the realization that this is not the case for most people in their career.
Finding meaning when you don’t have all the answers
If you are like me and need to feel like you are contributing to something larger in your life and career, it is imperative that you take it into your own hands to find meaning. Here are a few things I have learned to do through my evolving journey to find clarity and purpose:
- Ask what the most important things in my life are and make sure my career and life decisions are in line with them. One effective way to do this is through journaling on your values. It is helpful for me to not think about what to write, just start writing whatever comes into your head.
- Make sure that I utilize my innate gifts and strengths that come easily to me. I cultivate self awareness through practicing meditation and mindfulness. I find it most important to do first thing in the morning to set the tone for the day.
- Be intentional with my time and energy and be sure to show up as the best version of myself. To me, this means self care and taking time for yourself. I personally love doing 10 minutes of yoga when I am feeling restless.
Hi I’m Delia! I am a young professional writing my first blog series, Gen Z Career Journal. I write about navigating the workplace to figure out how to balance a meaningful career, productivity and wellbeing. I hope that people of all ages will read my words and be inspired to be true to themselves in their career.