Saturday, November 12, 2016

What To Do If You Don't Have A Plan for the Future

The future is a scary place. It's something completely unknown, a blank slate that could at any moment be altered. The choices that you make today are ones that shape the future, which making decisions a lot more difficult, especially when you're dealing with huge, life altering choices. I think that the biggest one of these life altering choices and likely one of the first ones that you deal with is what you want to do with the rest of your life as a teenager. I hear it all the time, the dreaded, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I hear it from my dentist as they're looking at my teeth. I hear it as fun (not so fun) get to know you games. I hear it as I meet new people. I hear it from my teachers. I hear it from my friends. It's a question that is always plaguing you, especially if you have no idea what the answer is. When I say that I'm not sure, they always reassure me that I have time. But eventually, there comes a moment when you're out of time. What do you do then? 


As a part of the Peter Pan Diaries series, if you haven't been updated, here's a brief summary about what the mini-series is about:
The Peter Pan diaries is a mini-series covering the various struggles, ups and downs, and giving guidance on the teen years. The Peter Pan series is for the people out there that are growing up, mostly aimed at the young adult years, but how they might not necessarily be ready to grow up yet, almost like Peter Pan. They're meant to help make the transition a little bit easier and also allow me to give my personal experiences and my perspectives on some struggles and controversial topics regarding teen life and being a young adult. 

As much as I would like to tell you that it's 100% okay to not have any clue what you want to do with the future, I have to think practically. It isn't always possible to be completely spontaneous with your life and see where it takes you, even though there are some amazing stories about it. Sometimes you do have to do a bit of planning or at least have a broad idea of what you want in life. How else are you supposed to reach goals if you don't have any?

I always wished that I was one of those people that always knew what they wanted to be when they grow up. I know some friends that have always known exactly what they wanted in their life. One friend wants a career in neuroscience. Another wants to go into foreign affairs. Another wants to be a pediatrician. The thing that I envied was that for them, their future didn't seem so blurry, they had a path to follow. They could take courses that best prepare them for their dream jobs, apply to universities that specialize in that field, and they had a vision for where they wanted to be. For them, they had a sense of direction. For me, it has always been unknown, like walking blind.

We're always expected to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives, but that's scary. Being tied down to one job for the rest of your life? That freaks me out big time. It's almost as though if I was to pick a profession that I wanted to follow, I would eventually hate it, feeling boxed in. I'm just worried that I'll make the wrong choice or I won't figure it out in time. It just feels like the time that I have to make a decision is ticking away faster and faster. So how do you finally come to a decision?


To come to a decision, you have to take the time and effort to find an answer. This means taking time out of your life to maybe explore potential professions that might interest you, taking career finding tests -- and actually using them, like looking into the possibilities that it offers to you based on your personality on a serious level. Don't just write something off right away and try to keep your options open, as difficult as it is. The best thing to do is to keep an open mind, to not close yourself off to potential professions. There is a profession out there that you will love, even if it means creating your own profession. Remember that it's not impossible to create your own based on your passions, although it's a risky step, there are so many people out there that have carved out careers in places in which none existed beforehand. This doesn't just mean entrepreneurs. Take YouTuber, Zoe Sugg, for example, who creates videos online and makes a living through it. 10 years ago, no one would have expected this to be a profession, but she, like many other online video creators out there, have made their place in the world based off of their own interests. For example, here's an article about 10 women that hustled their way to the top. It isn't an easy path, but it sure can be rewarding.

I believe that if you don't have a plan for the future, the #1 thing that you can do is just do things because you love them. Why would you take a class like chemistry if you absolutely hate it? Maybe it would help you if you planned to be a doctor, but what if you changed your mind? Would you regret wasting your time on something that you didn't absolutely love? I've been trying to do things just for the sake of my own happiness, hoping that one of these days it will lead me to something that I might want to spend the rest of my life doing. So what are some things that you can do to prepare for the future even if you have no idea what you want? Here are some ideas and tips:

Try out everything.

The thing is that you never know what you'll like until you try it. There are some things that I would have never seen myself doing that I ended up really enjoying. For example, I never would have seen myself performing on a stage before, but in middle school, I tried out theater, and I really liked it, because it was a way for me to practice my public speaking (which was absolutely terrifying to me) in a creative and fun way. If you have no idea what you want to pursue in the future, try out things that encapsulate all types of job fields. Maybe try learning computer code such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, or some other code that you can easily learn on sites such as Codecademy and see how you would like computer science. Maybe join your school newspaper and try your hand at journalism. Try out robotics to see how you would like engineering. Or craft a business idea and/or product idea (there are competitions where you can submit these) to see how you would like a career in business. There are tons of things out there that you can try out that's more than your typical core classes in school. Not everyone has to be a doctor or an accountant, there are lots more jobs that you can try out and see how you like them.


Take classes/courses that interest you.

For me, picking out classes and courses had always been a little difficult for me, as my school didn't have many choices and I couldn't figure out which course would best suit me. I heard lots of people around me debating their courses, like I had a friend that wanted to be a doctor, so she wanted to take biology and chemistry to fit that path, but at the same time, she felt as though she didn't necessarily like chemistry much. I always believe that although it's nice to be able to be well equipped for the career of your dreams with the proper classes, you should choose courses because you think that you'll enjoy them, not solely based on whether or not they set you up on a track to success for your dream job. The thing is that your current dream job might not be the same in a couple of years and if you base all of your courses off of a road plan towards only one specific profession, then you would have wasted your time with classes that you didn't like and now would have all of this knowledge on something that you're no longer interested in. If today you happened to be interested in physics rather than econ, even though you would like to go into business, you should choose the course that will make you happy in this moment because it is what your passion is.

Don't just do what your friends are doing. 

Let's just say that all of your friends want to be doctors when they grow up, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to follow. A part of growing up means forging your own identity and your own choices, not just going off of what everyone else is doing. Maybe you want to take a course because all of your friends are doing it, but you absolutely hate that course and see no future in it, especially not a career with it, don't feel like you need to follow along on their dreams instead of finding yours. Spend these next few years of your life leading up to college or during college focusing on you. What do you like doing? What makes you feel good? What doesn't? Look for things that make you happy, even if your friends wouldn't be doing it.

Talk to others about your options.

Talk to your parents. Talk to your friends. Talk to teachers/professors. Talk to counselors. It's great to discuss options with others. Some people can help steer you into a direction that you didn't even see as an option. These people, especially friends and family, know you best, and might already know of a profession that you would fall in love with that you have yet to discover. It's almost like when you're looking for that special someone. Maybe they don't have dating apps for careers (but wouldn't that be a good idea??), but you can still get advice from those close to you, almost like them setting you up on a date, but in this case, they can pair you up with a potential career. They say that couples paired up together by friends and family are more likely to succeed, so the same could apply for professions as well. These people are the people that know you, sometimes even better than you know yourself. Don't be afraid to ask them for help, because sometimes they can be the ones that guide you to the right place. 

Not having a plan for the future can be scary and as much as I would like to say that you don't need a plan for the future, a part of me knows that it's better to have a plan. But even if you don't have a plan, it doesn't mean that it's not possible for you to succeed. The thing about the future is that it can all work out in the end, even if you have a few bumps on the way. If you don't have a plan for the future, it's just a bump, a barrier, on your road to success. All it takes to overcome that barrier is just a little more effort and before you know it, the future will be yours. 

2 comments:

  1. Hi Rebecca! I just discovered your blog and I am absolutely in love with it. I think more people should read this post. I'm a senior in high school and not many people know what they want to do with their lives. For the longest time I thought I wanted to be a journalist, and now I want to be a psychologist. Definitely sharing this post with my friends! Keep in touch!

    https://guiliannamarie.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Guilianna! I'm so glad that you like my blog! It's so tough deciding what you want to be when you grow up, but it's fantastic that you've found something to aim for!
      Rebecca xo

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