What do you want to do? - The challenges of picking a career

What do you want to do? - The challenges of picking a career

Thursday August 04, 2016,

4 min Read

Perhaps one of the most daunting questions one is asked at the brink of adult life is- what do you want to do?

It’s like trying to decide what candy you want at the house of Willy Wonka.

(image credit - Shutterstock)

The years between 18 and 24 run by so quickly that before you realise it, you are still living in your parents’ house, trying to ‘figure it out’ while people younger than you are carving out successful careers. If you are one of these people, more power to you. I have no idea how you do it.

But in case you aren’t one of these superhumans, know that you are not alone; and it might be time to unlearn some things that might be getting in your way. Here are some questions to think on, questions that I wish I had asked myself years ago.

Is it still relevant?

Your parents and teachers have always prepared you for the next step. They have drilled you in the lessons needed to be successful, to climb the ladder and get ahead. But are these lessons still valid?

In school, you were taught to study hard to make it into a good college; in college, you were taught to study hard to find a good job (or study hard so that you could do whatever job you were about to inherit from dad).

But the ladder you are climbing is different from the one that your parents and teachers did.

In a time when a fashion blogger probably makes more money than a school teacher and a comedian makes more money than a nurse, maybe it’s time to let go of the ladder altogether, because a startup in Bengaluru has already invented the escalator.

What are you good at?

What you like to do changes with time, but what you are good at will likely not change as often.

Unless you are one of the lucky ones that have always wanted to become something as specific as an actor or a brain surgeon, chances are that the answer to the question ‘what do you want to do?’ will change multiple times over the course of your life.

But choosing a career path has to be a combination of multiple factors- it has to be something that you are not only good at, but also something that you can become better at with time. Those increments and appraisals will play hard to get.

Has it already been done?

The 2010’s truly are a saturated age, it seems as though however niche you or your work may be, you have competition. So you have to work hard and consistently. Not that competition is bad; it encourages quality and good performance.

However, in urban India, a large number of startups are tweaked models of existing western counterparts. You have to step back and consider – will this idea work now because it has worked for someone else in the past, or will this idea work because it’s mine and I want it to?

Of course, we can’t all be inventors, and most professions have been around for generations, but in order to stand out in a saturated playing field, the most powerful skill in the arsenal is to be something no one else can. It is easier being the best version of yourself than a pretty good version of someone or something else.

Can you afford yourself?

Paying the bills just doesn’t cut it anymore. For most tier 1 city lifestyles, the bills extend beyond the basic necessities. The goal is no longer to just house, feed and clothe yourself, but also to accommodate night outs, holidays and nice things.

In choosing a career, it is essential to consider the ROI on your hours, effort and commute. Can your career enable you to live the life you’ve envisioned for yourself?

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)