You are 17 and already thinking about what to do in college and where. Clap! Clap! You belong to a statistical minority. Deciding what to do for the rest of your life can be a bit overwhelming, specially during a time when your main and most pressing concern is deciding where to go for spring break. Your family may want (or force you, in some cases) to become this or you’ve always wanted to study that, but you know that you will struggle for the rest of your productive days to make ends meet. What if I change my mind right in the middle of the road? How do I tell my parents? Should I finish my career even when I hate it? All of them are logical questions that cross young people’s minds when faced with this decision.
Basically, you could indefinitely keep finding reasons (very good ones) to freak out.
I “bolded” a few words at the beginning of this post for a very specific reason. Those words ARE THE PROBLEM (yes, all in caps). Who told you that if you are a doctor you must be a doctor for the rest of your life? My cousin is a veterinarian who has a doctorate in breast cancer (human of course) and is also Indiana Jones incarnate. Moreover, a colleague once told me the story of a guy who was an artist, which in a ten year timeframe came from being a painter to developing chips for Intel. Talk about coherence and continuity.
By this I mean that you can be whatever you want to be. Yeah, it is the corniest line ever. But it’s also true. We have this capability to tag everything (thus, limiting everything. IMO, it probably makes things easier by eliminating all the variables except one).
I’m Dr. Doe (and that’s it, you are nothing else, just a Doctor), she is depressive (no! She suffers from depression among a thousand other positive things), “I was caught drunk while driving when I was 18″. Bam! You won’t get a decent job for the next 15 years because you are a drunk. We are trigger happy when it takes to labeling people. And we do that same thing to ourselves too, limiting our potential.
I have this un-extinguishable dichotomy within me. I’m a psychologist that likes to be a psychologist but also likes the corporate world. And not even years of psychoanalysis have routed me to either one of them. I even studied two careers at the same time (while having a job).My conclusion was that if I like both things, then I like both. Think quantum physics: a particle can be a particle and a wave at the same time; Schrödinger‘s cat can be dead and alive at the same time too.
Still, 2 years ago, after a decade of playing pinball with the corporate world and psychology I ended up in a job that required both capabilities. And this doesn’t mean that I won’t be bouncing between fields in the future. If I do it, it’s because I wanted to or my career path took me in that direction. Sometimes I’ve let the wind take me. And they’ve been fair. I like to keep my options open. And so can you.
If you decide to start business school, that doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be a football coach. Or if you are a football coach it doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be the manager of your club or team.
If your decision about your professional career is troubling you, there is an easy way to decide what to do. Follow your gut feeling. It is usually what you truly want. When you throw reason into the mix that is when things get complicated and you step away from what you desire. I’m not saying “don’t think, just act”. On the contrary, if or when you use reason, just be cautious. And remember, the only rest of your life is the one you decide to build.
Image credit City Town Info