From the time we were children, we’ve all been asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For some, the answers included astronaut, veterinarian, pop star, or president. (For me, the answer was part-time newscaster, part-time hip hop dancer!) Some people follow through with their childhood dreams but most people end up changing their minds. Something we don’t often talk about is how many people still don’t know what they want to be at age 20, 30, 40, and so on. As an indecisive person myself, I think this is completely normal. It can even be a sign that you have many interests and talents which make it hard for you to choose one career path, or perhaps your interests and talents have yet to be discovered. I hope this article provides you with ways to discover or narrow down your interests and talents so that you can find a career that’s perfect for you!
1 | Travel
I know, I know. This is probably the most cliché thing on this list. However, there’s a reason everyone raves about the benefits of traveling. Besides being fun and exciting, traveling is also one of the best ways to learn about yourself. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to live and work in a big city. You travel to New York City for the first time and find yourself completely overwhelmed by the lights, the sounds, and the crowds. You then travel to a more laid-back town in some place like Rhode Island, North Carolina, or say… Italy! Perhaps this kind of setting is more your style and without traveling, maybe you would have never known. I think your environment really affects your happiness levels. You can also try out various jobs while traveling to see what you really enjoy.
2 | Volunteer
Similar to traveling, volunteering is a great way to learn about yourself. It’s also nice to know that you’re helping others in the process! There are tons of groups that you can travel and volunteer with, or you can even seek out volunteer opportunities yourself by contacting places and asking if they need volunteers. With all of the options out there, volunteering can really help you discover your passions and put your talents to good use. You can find volunteer positions related to childcare, teaching, agriculture, environmental sustainability, or practically anything! It’s a great way to try new things, get out of your comfort zone, travel to interesting places, and make a difference.
3 | Make a list of what truly makes you happy (and make time for those things)
If you’re anything like me, you probably feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Between work, school, family, friends, relationships, sleeping, eating, and everything else, you might find yourself neglecting your hobbies and interests. For example, it dawned on me that ever since starting college, I haven’t had time for dancing (which has always been a passion of mine.) But in actuality, it’s not that I haven’t had time for it. The problem is that I haven’t made time for it. No matter how busy your life is, it’s so important to set aside time for what truly makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be 3 hours or anything, it can be as little as half an hour. Not only is this good for your happiness and overall mental health, it can also help reignite your interests and help you discover new ones. Maybe you set aside half an hour every night to write in your journal, and after a while you discover that you really want to pursue a career as a writer! Maybe you set aside time to revisit the interests you had when you were younger, or you try completely new things that turn out to be interesting to you. Having this time to yourself can really help you self-reflect and find your passion when you’re feeling lost.
I hope this post was helpful for you. Many of us still wonder “What do I want to be when I grow up?” so you’re not alone, no matter what age you are! If you have discovered a career that you love, what was your “aha” moment when you realized this was the job for you? Do you have any advice for others? If money wasn’t a factor, what would be your dream job?
about the author
Hi, I'm Lucy! A psychology student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon graduation, I plan to pursue child and adolescent therapy. When I'm not chugging coffee and studying, I love to sing, write music, bake, watch reality TV, and hang out with my dog.