And some practical steps thereon
About to graduate but still don’t know where you want to go? Here are three things you need to know to lead you in the right direction.
Right now, it feels like time is running out and you need to make a tough decision: who should you become for the rest of your life?
It’s such a crushing question to answer, and you need to answer it quick, but the truth is that you’re not ready yet – because you simply don’t know what you want to do with your life.
Before you commit prematurely to becoming a hesitant copywriter, engineer or financial adviser, pause for a second and sort out the basic things first.
By starting with these three areas, you’ll be heading down the right path in no time.
1 Know the role you play
We’ve encountered those individuals in class who are comfortable speaking in front of others, are great with people, and have things generally going very well for them.
“I want to be confident like him or her,” you may say. But the reason that he or she is confident is because things are going well, and the person knows the role that he or she is playing.
If you think about it, you are the most confident when everything is just right. Confidence is associated with success because confident people are the best version of themselves at that point of time.
Your confidence is boosted when you are with close friends, when you are doing something you’re good at, and when you get to do the things you enjoy. It’s also boosted when things are aligned with your personal values and your beliefs.
In other words, you don’t create a legend by forcing a great goalkeeper to play striker – you allow him to do what he does best.
So, it’s equally important that you always play the right role for yourself, and play it well.
Reflect on some things:
What are your values? What are the things that you will never compromise?
What activities are you good at? When do you thrive?
Knowing these things about yourself will steer you away from wanting to conform to someone else’s definition of “confidence”. Focus on what works for you.
There are many ways you can discover your values and strengths. Formal tests like Clifton StrengthsFinder are powerful tools that you can access online.
More importantly, however, is to reflect on the experiences that you have had. The more experience you’ve had, the easier it is to know your strengths.
However, your confidence in your role must be productive – it must be able to take you to where you want or need to be. This leads to my next point.
2 Know where you’re going
Whenever I get the chance, I always ask the successful people I meet whether they are doing what they really want to do. And the answer is often, “I’m 30 and thriving, but I still don’t know what I really want.”
There’s nothing wrong with not knowing what your end goal is.
Not even the most successful knew where they were headed. But, what they did know, were the smaller goals that they wanted to achieve. Eventually, your smaller achievements will lead you to greater ones.
Think about what you want, even if it’s vague or whimsical. Don’t expect yourself to have a perfect five or 10-year plan, because nobody does.
Questions you need to ask yourself:
What do I want for myself?
This may include lifestyle (I want to work around friendly people), a purpose to serve (I want to help the environment) or material gain (I want to live in a comfortable condominium).
How fast do I want it?
It could have a clear deadline (I want to have my luxury car by 27) or a relative one (I want to travel the world before I have children).
How badly do I want it?
Understand your limit for compromise (No matter what, I must pay for my parents’ expenses) and understand the consequences of not acting on it.
What must I do to get it?
This could be an attitude or behavioural change, forming new habits, changing the people you spend time with, or learning new things. Sometimes it’s less obvious, and sometimes it may feel counter-intuitive, but it could be the right thing to do.
Your goals will be focused, refocused, or will change entirely as time passes – and that’s okay.
What matters more is that you are motivated into action right NOW, and that you always remember to take time to reflect and reroute when necessary.
3 Know your possibilities
The best personal development advice I have heard in the last few months was made up of these three words: demystify, demystify, demystify.
We often don’t do the things we want to because we are afraid or reluctant to do it. We are afraid because we don’t know how easy it actually is to do them.
This is where demystifying comes in – it makes you see how great achievements are made up of achievable steps that even you can take.
Many complicated projects are made up of the simplest things. Despite that, most of us are more inclined to think that we don’t have the necessary skills to do it. However, if you really think about it, it isn’t as impossible as it seems.
If you’re not already a bursting optimist, a good way to start demystifying is to always be on the lookout for solutions, which are found in places you don’t usually look (otherwise you would have found it already).
This is why it’s so important to open your eyes and ears to stories, experiences and knowledge shared by others, because the most important lessons you will learn are the subtle ones.
Start with the following:
- Talk to people about opinions, experiences and perspectives
Surround yourself with positive people who are willing to share their knowledge with you. This could be your relatives, your teachers, and even strangers you meet at events.
Surprise your friends regularly with the various things you are willing to try out. Or, even better, surprise yourself.
Read books, meaningful magazines, news and articles with all sorts of topics and materials. Your brain has the ability to take the random things you read and make connections that you have never expected to exist.
The three areas I’ve discussed are all interdependent, each fuelling the other. As long as you regularly rethink and keep track of them, you’ll discover your greatness in no time.
Sabrina Kamaruddin has spent the past year helping undergraduates realise their leadership potential, as a part of the team at Leaderonomics Campus. You can email her at email@example.com.