I graduated from college and then thought, now what? I always envisioned myself in a fulfilling career, but what that career would be was unclear.
Like many Millennials, I’ve switched jobs when I felt unsatisfied or needed a change. I would hop from job to job, initially feeling like it was a good fit, and then suddenly it wasn’t.
The distress I felt over making career decisions agonized me to the point where I knew I needed to get help. I began seeing a therapist to help guide me in the right direction, and these are the lessons I learned.
1. Doing Gives You Information
The first advice I learned was to start doing things. I wouldn’t be able to figure out in my head if I liked something or not. I needed to gain firsthand experience.
One of my shortcomings was that I would overanalyze my choices but never make any. By choosing a direction and following the path it took me on I learned much about myself and my career.
Deciding whether we like something or not involves taking action. After you have put yourself into a situation you learn what you like and dislike about it. It’s this act of doing that teaches us who we want to become.
2. You Can Bring Your Gifts Everywhere
A roadblock I encountered when considering careers was trying to choose a job that aligned with my talents. My therapist told me to look at it the other way. She said I will develop any job I am in because I will bring my talents to the table.
She also emphasized that it’s impossible to find yourself in a job description. You will bring your uniqueness to the job. It’s good to find a good match, but it may not be a perfect fit.
While some jobs are a better fit than others, your skill set can be useful anywhere. Even workers with the same job title bring unique attributes to the workforce.
Instead of trying to fit into a mold, envision how you can use your gifts to help others. Think about what environment you want to use your gifts in. Your path may begin to reveal itself.
3. Keep Your Focus
My career ideas were all over the place. I considered many occupations but never narrowed down my choices. This paralysis by analysis overwhelmed me and turned into an anxiety attack.
I learned to keep my focus on a task or job that is a decent fit or stepping stone. I considered what I could reasonably do with my current skill set, and also what would be of interest to me.
After discussing these ideas with my therapist, I created a vision for my next job. I wrote a list of the types of skills I wanted to use in this job.
Career counseling became my focus and I boldly went with it. In a non-traditional fashion, I used this list of ideas in my interview a few weeks later and landed a new job. When you focus your career, you get results.
4. Limit Your Time
Creating a career can be overwhelming. There are so many job boards to search on, careers to read about, and personality tests to take. We can also write our feelings regarding various occupations to help inform our decisions.
From time to time, exploring careers can be useful. However, I did this too much and got distressed that I couldn’t come up with an answer.
My therapist gave me boundaries for job searching. She told me that it should not consume an entire afternoon.
In addition, she taught me to recognize that my overwhelmed feeling was a red flag that I needed to take a break. When I noticed that cue I would step away from my computer and put career searching to rest for the day.
When I learned to limit the amount of time spent on job searching I noticed I was happier and less anxious about my lack of direction. Do yourself a favor and limit the time you spend focused on exploring jobs.
5. Learn to Have Fun
Being overly concerned with your career stifles your youthful innocence. It’s important to revive your playful side. Your emotional wellness depends on it.
My therapist went on to explain that it’s important to let loose and participate in activities simply because they are enjoyable. Engaging in fun activities gives your mind and body a break. You feel refreshed and recharged and your mood improves.
For me, this meant that I remembered to write in my gratitude journal, and developed time to pray and read the Bible. It also meant that I took the effort to plan game nights with my friends. I also made sure I fit exercise into my schedule and rested when I needed to.
Your career success and emotional happiness go hand and hand. If you want a fulfilling career, begin by creating a satisfying personal life. When you put a smile on your face, your career success will follow.