What should I do with my life?: Choosing a Career / University / College Major

Consider the Statistics

NPR Planet Money explores choosing a university / college major (What should I do with my life?) – it’s a more important decision than the school a person attends. Yet the decision is often made at a whim. The dollar impact over a person’s lifetime could be millions. For instance Petroleum engineering has a median income of $120K/yr. Whereas Counselling Psychology median’s is $30K/yr.

This is the graph that illustrates why a person should go to college:

This chart shows job titles on an income ladder:

Not having a college degree:

  • impacts life expectancy due to exposure to “deaths of despair”: https://www.npr.org/transcripts/787555423. This is all too real, Planet Money’s “Big Rigged” podcast has a heartbreaking story of how simple hard work backfires; click here to listen.

Consider these other textor.ca posts:

USA Job Graph Illustrates that the future in 1st World jobs is service

Review of “7 Workplace Myths Disproven By Research” which explains that a person should do what makes a difference in other people’s lives. Not what they love.

“What should I do with my life?” – How to Choose by Prototyping

Cold hard statistics might not really help when considering “What should I do with my life?”. A podcast episode of Hidden Brain called “You 2.0: Getting Unstuck” offers good advice to help figure out what to do with your life using design thinking/prototypes.

Avocation = the thing you do for love, not money. Many times you need a vocation to pay for the avocation.

“Many of us feel stuck – stuck at work, stuck in the wrong city, stuck in life. When that happens, we often end up asking ourselves, what should I do? Where should I live? What’s my ideal life? It turns out, these normal questions are counterproductive to getting us unstuck. They place an unbearable pressure on us, the pressure to know how things are supposed to turn out.

The next time that happens to you, think of your life the way a designer at a tech company thinks of a new product. You don’t quite know what you want to build. Just for fun, you come up with a prototype, then a second and a third. You pay attention to whether you enjoy building one kind of prototype or another. You listen to feedback from others. You go back to the drawing board and try again. When someone asks you years later how you knew what you wanted to be, you can tell them – honestly, I didn’t.”

Consider Your Personality

There are many personality systems and here’s one: DISC “D (dominance), I (influence), S (steadiness), and C (conscientiousness)”. Based on your personality, there are certain careers where your personality will be an additional strength. This page helps explain DISC and the e-book referenced at the bottom of the page called “Personality and Career Decisions” has a list of careers by DISC-type: https://www.crystalknows.com/blog/i-hate-my-job

Started Your Job? Quit It

Podcast “The Indicator” explains that quitting your job is a very healthy thing. Economists worry that climbing the job ladder within a company puts people into jobs that are less of a match for their skills which then puts them into a tenuous position when a recession hits. Since switching jobs is usually a better fit for a person’s skills they become more recession resistant. In addition, switching jobs usually represents a kind of promotion and can bring benefits such as an increase in status, more pay and generally, if the skills match is better, a more productive worker. It appears the reality now is to be loyal to your work; that is, do what you agreed to and do a good job on it. But loyalty to your employer? That is something that belongs to past generations. Finally, this strategy tends to support finding a place that values you. Click here to read about the daughter and the Nissan Skyline R34.

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