In my casual interactions, I’ve encountered countless individuals who thought they had their career choice all figured out. Two to three years into their college education they discovered that the choice they thought would provide them years of work life enjoyment, only to discover that their initial decision was incorrect. This causes so much consternation and stress. Unfortunately, these individuals prematurely ‘throw their recipe out’ completely.
I have learned over the years that the right career choice includes a combination of ‘flavors’ if you will. Once you realize this, it takes the stress of feeling like you’ve completely wasted your time and instead replaces it with relief. The ideal career choice blends various flavors of your interests. Your originally decided major is just one of the flavors that may still ultimately be a part of your recipe. We just need to add other ‘spices and textures’ to your recipe to make it just right.
I encountered this same problem when I was wrapping up my seventh year of college. I had successfully completed four years of undergraduate work in Psychology and Communication, took a one-year break then started and finished an intensive three year graduate program. Of course, it was in the final semester that seventh year of college that it became clear to me that becoming a therapist would have left me unfulfilled (and possibly very depressed). My first feeling was that of overwhelm – ‘all this just to start over?’ Now what do I do? I had shared the same feeling that so many others have experienced… and this was from someone who really loved college and didn’t mine the thought of more grad school. But there had to be an easier way to figure out what other flavors needed to be blended into my recipe. I had a very lucky, serendipitous moment when I was mulling over what to do next with a friend of mine. It was that single conversation that created the clarity I needed. It was the right person to ‘wrestle’ my thoughts with. It was the right person who ultimately led to the perfect opportunity that literally saved me at least another four years of school and tens of thousands of dollars.
I realized in that moment that the answer was not to throw our experiences and education to date out, but to modify the recipe by adding the other elements that are missing to our recipe.
Taking inventory of all your interests (including the ones that led you to this path so far) and begin to have conversations with those around you (really anyone who will listen can potentially be valuable). When given a puzzle to figure out, your brain is the master at solving these puzzles. Sometimes, we need just a small amount of someone else’s unbiased insight to help us solve the particularly complex puzzles.
So, don’t get down in the dumps realizing that you need to take a left turn when it comes to career choice. Often it is a slight modification of your recipe that will provide the perfect blend of flavors that will lead to career fulfillment for decades to come.