Decisions are hard. I am bad at making decisions; case in point – I can’t even decide on a title for this blog post. We are faced with making decisions every day. What style of jeans are you after – regular cut, slim fit, classic, boot cut, relaxed, or straight leg? What sort of hair cut would you like – the burr, the flat top, the butch cut, the crew cut, the bowl cut, the Justin Bieber, or the Donald Trump? What sort of cereal are you after – high calcium, high fibre, low fat, wheat, bran, fruit, with or without nuts?
Sometimes, I struggle to decide what to have for dinner. The other day I found myself going back and forth between the pantry and the fridge trying to decide what to cook; and not because there is a lack of options to choose from either – oh quite the contrary. The kitchen is, in fact, well stocked. Worse yet, I can’t even decide on what takeaway I want when I am too lazy to cook – often “umming and ahhrring” between various options… Do I want a kebab? But I had that last week! Do I want pizza? Hrmm. Sounds tempting – but which one? I like the pepperoni, but I had pepperoni in my sandwich yesterday. What about the gourmet selection? Nah, that is too expensive – more than what I would like to spend on takeaway. How about the classic Hawaiian? Nah, I feel like I should have something different this time. Ok, what about the Chinese takeaway around the corner? Nah, don’t feel like it. By the time I finally decided on what I want, it was 8.30pm. And just in case if you are wondering, I ended up having KFC. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did I regret my choice? Most definitely yes – it was greasy and I felt a little bit sick after. Uggh. Even thinking about it now made me feel a bit yuck. This “indecisiveness” has become such a common problem that a restaurant in the US has named themselves “Where do you want to go? I don’t care Bar and Grill”.
While you may consider these decisions trivial, they do matter! Here is why: http://www.thingsinsquares.com/comics/it-matters/
And yet, we are expected to decide what we want to do, career wise, very early on when we are young. We are required to choose the subjects that we want to study in the last few years of high school (which, in theory, will determine our career path). I remember having to choose between Physics, English, Calculus, History, Accounting, Home Economics, (foreign) Language, or Sheet Metal Engineering. How well I do in these subjects will determine if I am able to attend University or not. This changed recently with the introduction of NCEA, but it was a slightly different world back then when we were required to do well in Bursary in order to enrol in University – sure, there are other ways to get into University if you do badly in high school, but this is certainly not the norm. Some courses (at some universities) even require students to do exceptionally well in high school as a requirement to enrol. But decisions are hard. As someone who struggles to decide what to have for dinner, I am certainly not very good at deciding what I want to study – let alone choosing a career path; especially while I am still in high school!
And let’s NOT ignore building a career in trades either, which should be equally encouraged – but this is / should be another topic entirely on its own – we will leave this for another blog post.
Truth be told, I STILL don’t know what I want to do. I also know a few people well in their 50s who still don’t know what they want to do either. But the life train moves on and most of us have to decide at some point – unless you are fortunate enough to be in a situation where this is not the case (e.g. if you inherited a lot of money). For those who don’t know me (I did not inherit a lot of money), I have embarked on a career path within a quasi IT development and support role. This, of course, is very different from my background and qualification in communications (see what I mean about making decisions?). Don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy what I studied and I also enjoy what I do now. I love problem solving and I also love technology. And having a background in communications has certainly helped me with what I do today. It may not be my life passion, but I don’t know what that is either! I really admire people who knows what their passions are – someone who knows what they like to do very early on. This blog post wouldn’t exist if I am one of such people.
Don’t worry if you are stuck making a career decision. Our career consultants here at Victoria University of Wellington are very skilled at asking the right questions to help you along the way. They have various tools that can help you figure out what you like and dislike, which is tied to your personality. This will, at the very least, help you narrow down the list of jobs that might suit you. Feel free to make an appointment on Careerhub for a confidential chat.
Personally? I prefer most jobs to be automated (see my previous blog post)!
For those of you who want to learn a little bit more about the psychology of choice and decision making, I recommend reading “The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less” by Barry Schwartz.