Choosing a Path

I think that most people go through life without ever really knowing what they really wanted to do, or what their true ambitions were. I think it’s easy to settle for a job that you don’t really feel passionate about when you aren’t even sure what you’re passionate about in the first place. You can almost fall into a meaningless job by default because of lack of preference, which allows you to sort of numb the pain by not feeling like you’ve missed out on anything because you didn’t even know what you were missing out on.

I’m in the stage in my life where I really need to be thinking about my career long-term now. Not to say that it’s ever too late, but I think the earlier your realise the better, especially now that I’m not in any form of education, and therefore don’t have that buffer to mull over my options.

Choosing a path in life is a lot harder than you imagine it should be. As with many things in life, the tyranny of choice is a big factor, as is the subsequent buyer’s regret problem of worrying whether you made the right choice, given all of the available options. It’s true that there are seemingly a lot of options available, and you can get caught up in the decision process, a state called ‘paralysis by analysis’, where you overthink the choice to the point where you don’t end up making one. I’m certainly guilty of having a series of flings with various career ambitions, never really committing one, and I’m still in that place.

Like I’ve said though, I am beginning to start giving serious consideration to what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life. When making these sorts of decisions, I think you have to begin with what you’re passionate about, and get to the core of that passion. For me, I want to make the world a better place, but more specifically I want people to have more freedom to choose the life that’s best for them, to give them more information to make more informed choices, and to give them the tools to better be able to make those choices. Ultimately, what this boils down to, I guess, is education. Okay, that’s a good start. But how can I actually achieve these goals? There are two options as far as I see it: 1) go into government and attempt to influence policy from the inside, 2) join an education interest group that lobbies the government to alter its education policy, or 3) join or begin an organisation that provides educational services, and tries to enhance education directly. Personally, that latter sounds like the most intriguing. So, second step completed. Now, how can I go about getting into an organisation that does this, or even start my own business? For this, I think it’s useful to actually consider what my strengths are. Off the top of my head, I’d say that my strengths are written communication (don’t take this website as evidence of that though, this is more of a stream of consciousness thing with no structural editing and only cosmetic grammatical editing), idea generation, planning, and leadership. Upon initial inspection, these skills seem to complement a career in entrepreneurship pretty well. In fairness, this whole thing might be a product of my own bias, because for a long time I’ve aspired to be an entrepreneur and business-owner, I just haven’t had a great idea yet, or at least, not known how to go about carrying out grand ambitions. But even if this is the case, if I’m biased towards a certain career path, that tells me something useful in itself.

What I’ve written out above was improvised, I didn’t plan it, but I actually found it to be a useful exercise. To anyone reading this I would recommend doing something similar. It’s helpful to write down on paper what your passions are, what the options available to you are to fulfil these passions, how to go about reaching one of these options, and what your skills are. This will provide a good framework for action, and you can try to fill in the detail as to what steps you need to take to go about achieve these goals, and actually allow these ambitions to materialise, or try to at least.

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