Looking for a job? Slowly realising that it’s September now and the summer is over and, oh yeah, you’ve finished your education and you’re not going back to lectures or lessons ever again so you should probably come up with a plan? Having a full on existential crisis? You’ve probably said “I don’t know what to do with my life” at some point in the last 24 hours.
Thanks to Drake, we all know you only live once. And while YOLO could be the key to inspiring us to do that bungee jump or brave swimming with sharks, when it comes to jobs, it’s also a huge amount of pressure. When life is precious, how are you supposed to decide what you want to do from 9-5ish, five days a week, for the rest of your life, until you retire? What if you want to work in PR but you think being an astronaut sounds pretty interesting too? Or you have mad crocheting skills, but also quite fancy going into the city in a fancy suit every day? What if you just can’t decide between becoming a tap dancer or a zoo keeper?
We decided to ask Andrea Nakhla founder of the website, wtfshouldidowithmylife.com, and Jenny Blake, career and business strategist, international speaker and author of brand new book PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One for their tips.
“I created wtfshouldidowithmylife.com in 2010 initially as a fun way to learn how to make a website,” Andrea told us. “I had spent a few years travelling and working with non-profits and meeting people who were living different kinds of lifestyles which showed me a lot of options I didn’t even realise were possible. I was 22, thinking about what I was going to do next, so it was a good way to explore options for myself as well as make a place where other people could be exposed to them as well.”
“The reaction has been really positive,” she told us. “Most of our traffic comes from people googling ‘WTF should I do with my life’, it’s obviously a question that is especially relevant today. I think some people just find it a funny commentary on the state of things, but others have said it’s really helped them figure out what they’d like to do.”
“Pivot is the new normal for all of us,” Jenny told us. Her new book is all about embracing change and swapping job roles every few years. “Even the companies and industries we choose are changing dramatically due to forces like automation, outsourcing and globalization,” she said.”All this change, while it can seem stressful at first, can also be a good thing! It gives you permission to learn and grow and reinvent yourself (and your career) as you go along too.”
Don’t know WTF to do with your life? Check out Jenny and Andrea’s tips…
1. Any job you take will be helpful in the long run: “Taking your first job is helpful no matter what, because you will get a much clearer picture of what you enjoy doing and want to incorporate more of, and what you don’t,” Jenny said. “Ask: what does success look like one year from now? What do you want to give or contribute to the organization and or your community? What do you want to receive in return? And what accomplishments or new skills would you be most proud to have under your belt?”
2. Thinking of trying something new? Try it out before you sign on the dotted line: “Take the pressure off of landing the perfect next move, and break your next steps down into smaller experiments instead,” Jenny recommended. “No matter what direction you take next, decisions are data. Sometimes it’s helpful to make your next move even if you’re not 100 percent sure about it, then gain new insight and information that can inform your following move after that. Think about classes you can take or small experiments you can run first: what can you test with just ten percent of your time? A strong experiment will help you test the Three Es: do I enjoy this? Can I become an expert at it? And is there room to expand (in my company or the larger marketplace)?”
“I think giving yourself time to explore different options is the best thing you can do,” Andrea told us. “If you think there’s something you might like doing, find people who are in the field and ask them about what it’s like day to day, what they love and dislike about it. Ask if you can job shadow someone or do internships, it’s not a waste of time, in my case it was a lot more valuable than going to college.”
3. Take your time: “Most of our audience is just out of high school or college,” Andrea told us. “It’s super overwhelming to be told you are supposed to make a decision on what you want to do with the rest of your life, especially when you’re that young and don’t even fully know who you are yet. But it’s equally stressful too to be older and stuck in a career you don’t like and not be sure there is an option to change. I think knowing yourself is more important than defining a career, the decision comes out of that, taking time to find what really makes you happy.”
4. Be brave: “We’re all going to be experiencing pivots and asking ‘what’s next?’ every few years, and that’s a positive sign that we are leading growth-oriented lives,” said Jenny. “Build first, then your courage will follow—not the other way around. Take small action steps, then your confidence will build. Don’t wait for courage to strike first.”
‘PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters Is You Next One’ by Jenny Blake is published by Portfolio Penguin on 8th September (£14.99).
Liked this? You might also enjoy…