Since childhood, it’s been ingrained in our brains that there’s a perfect dream job out there for each of us. When we were kids, we’d passionately announce what we’d like to be — astronaut! Archaeologist! Ballerina! But at some point, our interests change and we’re less confident in answering the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We’re told to follow our heart, work hard to pursue our passion and that everything will fall into place. But what if you don’t have any idea what the hell your ideal career is? *record scratch*
While everyone else is graduating, finding killer jobs and starting their way up the ladder to their dream career, it’s easy to feel insecure about the future if you’re still a little lost. You know you have a lot to offer an employer, but just haven’t figured out where your skills and interests align. This is a stressful position to be in, but not knowing what you want to do in life can actually be a blessing in disguise. Here are some reasons why it’s okay if you don’t know your dream job yet:
You have the chance to really think about your life path, rather than just your career path
Not knowing your dream job actually gives you a unique perspective on life. Instead of focusing on your career and tailoring your life around that career, you’re free to do it the other way around. Taking a step back and examining what you want out of life can help you realize what type of job will help you achieve those goals.
Do you want to live in the heart of a big city or in a remote cabin in the woods? Would you rather spend the majority of your day outside or do you like being able to work from local coffee shops? Is it more important to you to have time off to travel or a bigger paycheck for a more comfortable lifestyle? Mapping out your life can help you see where your career can fit into it. At the end of the day, your job is really just one piece of your multi-faceted life.
Take time off to explore
After university graduation it feels like everyone is ready to jump right onto the track for their career. It can be easy to feel like you’re the only one left without an offer for an internship or job. But this uncertainty about what lies ahead can actually be a good thing.
Sometimes when you throw yourself into a career, it can be pretty difficult to get out and take time off. Concentrating fully on one career path can make you subconsciously put up blinders for other opportunities that arise. Take advantage of your uncertainty. Travel. Go overseas if you can. If you don’t have enough money, find a way to spend some time abroad for free — work on an organic farm or volunteer at a nonprofit. Get out of your comfort zone. Meet people from completely different walks of life. I guarantee you’ll come out of it with a much better understanding of yourself and the world.
You can try out different jobs
While you’re figuring out what your dream job is, you’ll need to be earning money. Chances are you’ll have to take a job that may not be your dream — heck, it might even be a nightmare! But accepting a less-than-ideal job can be enlightening in itself. Every work opportunity teaches you something and will help you whittle down what it is you’re looking for or looking to avoid in your future career.
Working in cafes and restaurants was always my go-to when I was figuring out my next step in life and needed extra money. Some of my jobs were wonderful and some were downright awful, but at each one I learned something new about myself and my hopes for my future career. I learned everything from how to tactfully handle frustrated (and hungry) customers to the fact that having quality co-workers can turn a terrible job into a fun one. Cherish the opportunity to try out different jobs — eventually you’ll find a passion that sticks.
There are many others in your position
Not knowing your dream career is far from the end of the world, but let’s face it, sometimes it can still be frustrating. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Sure, from the outside it seems like everyone has got it all figured out career-wise. But in truth, many people — in all stages of life — are still searching for their dream job. Unless you’re very lucky, it doesn’t come easy.
So when you get down on yourself — when you feel like you can’t possibly wash one more dish or spend one more day at your cubicle — remember: every work experience, no matter how unfulfilling or dissatisfying, pushes you one step closer to the career of your dreams. Keep chugging, my friend, and eventually, something will click.