Occupational Wellness: Don’t Ask Me That…Please.

I know, I know…another occ wellness blog? I’m on an occ wellness kick right now! We all know the question I’m talking about. At least, I think I can safely say the majority of people my age know what question I’m talking about.

What do you want to do with your life? How are you going to use THAT major in the real world? What is your dream career? 

Ok, so it’s a multitude of questions that invariably come along as soon as you announce that you are a psych major or that you are graduating or that you are, you know, in your 20s. And I have always hated this question. Actually, the more I have learned about work and careers, the more I have hated this question. Because the more I have been in the professional world or explored careers, the more I realize, I have no clue what I want to do with my life. When you were younger, it was easy. I want to be a gymnast or a ballerina (or insert whatever you wanted to be). But as you grow up and you learn and you are working, you realize there are SO many options and career paths…it almost feels overwhelming to make that decision at 18 (or 25). And as career evolve and change (and some die out, others are born)…it just seems like…there isn’t a specific answer to that question (for some yes, for others no…like in all my organizational psych classes the answer starts with “it depends”).

So, at the ripe old age of almost 26 with about a year and half in the career track biz…these are my tips to young adults to make the most out of their education and their work experiences to prepare them for the day when they actually may get that dream job.

1.) Pick up transferable skills and hone in on the ones you are really good at and/or that you think are going to be the most valuable in your future. Decision making skills, problem solving, getting along with other people…these are skills that you can start working on at your first part time job, carry through college, grad school, the side jobs you get to pay rent, and your dream career. Break down the skills that you might need for your dream career and start working on obtaining those skills. If there are certifications that are needed, start working on getting those.

2.) Find a role model. Network with said role model. And ask them if they would be willing to share the path that they took to get to where they are. You can mirror a similar path or perhaps they had missteps that they can warn you of. But just find someone that you look up to. If you look up to someone that maaaaaybe is difficult to get to meet/talk to/email, try one of their colleagues or look them up on LinkedIn, that also might tell a story of their path.

3.) Figure out things that you like. I like stats. I like research. I like wellness. I like consulting. Boom. 4 things that I like that I would look for in an ideal career. I may not get to do all of those every single day in my current job, but I do get to do stats and I can read research and I can start a wellness blog to share my love of wellness and I can be a consultant working pro bono on projects. So am I doing my dream job? No, but I am doing things that I think will help me in the future? Yeah, you know what, I am.

3 tips. That’s it. Because careers and jobs and workplaces are broad, evolving, and complicated. And being a young adult in this world is sometimes not so much fun. It can be really overwhelming and daunting, especially when you think about being an 18 year old college student and picking out your major which is supposed to dictate your life…for the rest of your life. I shudder just thinking about that. But keep in mind that jobs change, careers vary, and people evolve. What I may love right now in this minute, may not ring true in 20 years. But having those transferable skills ensures that you will be ok. Also, networking. That’s good too.

Side note:  I live in Kansas so we got a nice blast of cold Arctic air these past couple of days and this morning when I was walking to the gym, my eyeballs didn’t feel like they were going to freeze and pop out of my head! Hoooray!

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