What to Do with My Life?

   Written by on September 21, 2017 at 10:39 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Remember the movie The Graduate?  Benjamin Braddock just finished college.  He moves back home and tries to avoid the question “what does he want to do with his life?”  My question is, why he hasn’t figured this out years earlier?

  Millennials seem to graduate from high school without a plan.  50% of incoming freshman have not picked a major and 75% of college students change their minds about their major at least once.  How can you help your son or daughter build a life plan?

First, be proactive.  A survey of 16,000 Millennials found that they are making choices on their own, without leaning on parents or friends.  You need to reach out, open a line of communication, and offer to help your child with the uncertainty of the question “What to do with my life?”

Do you want to know who you are?  Don’t ask.  Act!  “Action will delineate and define you” was Thomas Jefferson’s guidance.

The first step, in helping millennials, is identifying their interests.  Together make a list of your millennial’s loves.  I love puzzles.  I love building things.  I love animals.  I love the feelings I get when I help people.  I love being outdoors.  The most fun I ever had was when I … fill in the blank.

Now make a list of what he or she doesn’t like or want to do.  This is to eliminate what will not fit.  I don’t want to work at a desk all day.  I don’t want to be around blood.  I hate to cook.  I’m not good at sports.  The thing I dislike doing the most is … fill in the blank.

Howard Thurman gives the advice “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.”  As you look at the list of passions as well as the list of dislikes look for similarities.  I like to work with my hands and I like to build things.  I like to be outdoors, I like to hunt, and I like to garden.  I like to read, I like to help people, and I like to explain things to people.  I like to be alone, I like to drive, and I like going new places.

Now the challenge is matching these likes and dislikes with a job.  There is an exercise called Strong’s Inventory.  Strong’s Inventory provides a list that matches likes with specific jobs.  A high school guidance counselor or career counselor can help.  In today’s world, there are what can seem like unlimited job choices.

Ok, so now you have list of likes, dislikes, and potential careers.  The next step takes caring and sensitivity.  This is helping your millennial assess his or her aptitude for the careers on their list.  Your son wants to be an NBA star but is only 5’10” with limited athletic ability.  Your daughter wants to be a surgeon but failed high school biology and passes out at the sight of blood.  As the saying goes, you don’t want to rain on their parade.  So if playing basketball is not an option, what other sports related options are there?  As George Bernard Shaw said: “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”

You now have the short list of jobs.  Finished, right?  No.  The final step is job shadowing.  For example, if car mechanic tops the list, ask your favorite car repair shop if your millennial can spend some time in the shop.  The purpose in shadowing is to get a sense of what the job is really like.

Samuel Clements counseled, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbour.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.” Oh by the way, you probably know him better as Mark Twain.

Commit your ways to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  Psalm 37:5

Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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