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I don't know what I want to do in life.
And that is okay my friend!
When you are young, you sometimes find yourself asking,
"What do I want to be when I graduate? What should I do once I finish studying?"
And it is normal to ask yourself what the next steps of your life looks like. And it is okay not to know, because you haven't tried enough, and there are just so many options out there in life.
Technology has paved the way towards a wealth of limitless possibilities. In the past, people only knew about available careers opportunities within their local cities. With the Internet, a simple Googling gives you a sea of potential different choices you can take. Technology has created possibilities that were unimaginable in the past to be full time jobs, including live streamers, content creators, drone pilots, and even software engineers which we take for granted nowadays.
We are ingrained to think career choices are important life decisions, and we must make the correct one or risk the ability to attain success. However, this mindset stops people from trying, because we are all optimising to get that perfect career choice. The reality is there is no perfect career option.
It is also common to veer towards the traditional, tried-and-tested path. "My friends are doing this, so I should do it. It guarantees a stable income, so I should be doing it." It is okay if you think the usual path suits you, but our intent is to help you find a path that you enjoy.
"Do what you love, and you'll never have to work another day in your life."
This saying is highly contested amongst my friends when I bring it up for discussion. Some feel that a job is just a means to survive, while others feel their job should be aligned with their own interests. It is a very privileged thing to be able to think like the latter, and I agree. If you look at the world's population today, and how some people don't even have access to clean water and housing, for you to be able to read this, you are already considered a privileged person.
Another way to look at this, is that you need to try as many things as possible to know what you are good at. Sometimes, it is natural for you to start enjoying something you are good at, because it gets easy, and when you do it well, you would naturally feel good about it.
I feel that the world is changing and our education system is not evolving fast enough to keep up. There's more demand in the current market for roles newly created by tech. Advances in technology allow for us to look into launching into space, starting your own bank, creating alternative sources of protein for food sustainability, re-imagining what the next million jobs look like as certain roles get automated.
As the world gets richer and people naturally start from a higher quality of life, there is a decrease in the importance of how much money you make versus finding purpose in what you're doing.
I remember one of my ex-colleagues telling me this very early on in both of our careers:
"I'm going to spend the rest of my life making money. What is a few years off not focused on money, but doing something that I enjoy?"
Money is important, don't get me wrong. You might have burdens and responsibilities that no one else has, and you need money to solve them. In the free time that you have, you could, possibly, use it to discover what interests you in the long run.
What can I try to do?
1. Read as much as you can
An intent of reading is to expose yourself to new knowledge, and as many ways of looking at things as possible. You need not necessarily agree with the author, but it helps you to critically think if you have a differing view on a certain topic.
A friend recently told me he watched a video where the narrator walked merely an aisle of a huge library in 10 seconds, and said: "If you read a book a week, that's all the books you'd ever get to read in your lifetime." That's how vast the amount of books you can read!
This isn't just limited to books. Articles, podcasts, videos on topics that interest you are worth exploring too.
2. Go for internships
May be controversial, but I personally feel internships are more useful than academia. You can learn from mentors, and you get to make real-world impact at the same time. Of course, this would differ if you are going for paths that have a natural need for in-depth knowledge, like research.
3. Take up courses
Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, all make it super easy for you to start learning something new. Picking up a new language? Go with Duolingo. Interested in machine learning? Try out Andrew Ng's Stanford course. If you don't like it, at least you've tried.
There is MasterClass which I've tried, but the courses don't seem to go very deep into the topics.
4. Start something in line with your interests
It is so, so, so easy to start your own business or your own thing today because of the Internet. You can start a business on Carousell or Instagram for free, and learn how you can make it profitable. You can start posting content on YouTube, TikTok, or blogs through Wordpress.
The one thing you can do, to know what you want to do in life, is to keep trying new things. In the end, you may not even find it, but regrets come more often from inaction rather than action.
If you are someone who has already been working a couple years, and you are at a stage where you don't know what else excites you and you don't look forward to waking up, tell yourself this:
It is okay to feel lost.
Humans aren't made to be productive all life round. The best ideas usually comes when one is bored. Everyone is in their own timeline and you shouldn't compare yourself to others.
Know that a few years down the road, you won't feel like this anymore. Just keep trying stuff. And enjoy the process!