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Choosing your career can feel like a lot of pressure. Traditionally, many American students head to college after high school. The major they choose becomes the first step in their career training. However, many students don’t have much life experience or direction to help them choose a suitable major.
If you’re dreading graduation, this article is for you. Follow these four steps to manage career stress and decide what your next move is. As scary as it seems, you’re going to figure it out. All it takes is intentionality, courage and hard work. Here are four steps to help you choose a career path in high school.
- Start Working Now
Every job requires you to use different skills and resources to succeed. The earlier you start working, the faster you’ll get to know yourself and what you enjoy at work. One of the best ways to find career direction is to start working while you’re still in high school. This can look like starting a side business, babysitting or getting a part-time job.
This job doesn’t have to be particularly glamorous to help you learn a lot about yourself. Pay attention to what gives you energy, what tasks you dread doing and how you feel about coworkers. Try to grow your personal skills as much as you can. Try several different jobs to get a better understanding of the work environment you prefer.
- Consider Your Goals
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. How much money do you want to make throughout your career? Take some time to consider the lifestyle you want to have. If you’d like to live in a big city, raise a large family or take expensive vacations, you probably need a high-paying job. Of course, many people live happy lives on a smaller income as well.
Another question to consider is how much time you want to spend working. Many higher-level corporate jobs require extra hours or work on the weekends. How much time do you want to spend with other people? Do you want work to be your life’s passion or would you prefer to work so you can pursue your passions separately? Answering these questions will give you a good idea of the types of jobs you should look into.
- Discover Your Passion
Many online articles talk about the role of passion in your career. Passion simply means that you’re excited to get up in the morning – you feel fully engaged and personally invested in what you do. Because passion is a feeling, it may come and go even if you really love your job. However, taking a personal interest in your work will help you feel more fulfilled overall.
Take a moment to consider the things you really love to do. What activities fill you with joy? What causes do you care about? Passion is really about how you can serve others and deliver something you strongly believe that the world needs. The more you engage with the world, the faster you’ll discover what you’re passionate about. It’s okay if this takes a while!
- Research Career Options
Before you can make an informed career decision, you have to know your options. You can use your goals and interests to filter jobs and find careers that sound appealing to you. Once you have a short list of these careers, go deeper to find out if they’d be a good fit. You can research online, talk to industry professionals and even shadow them for a day.
The goal here isn’t to find the perfect job – you can’t “pick wrong,” so don’t worry about that. Instead, focus on finding a career that meets your goals and aligns with your values. You’ll probably have to look into multiple careers before you find a good fit. Even then, this isn’t forever – you can always change careers later on.
Don’t Be Afraid
Did you know that stress shuts down your body’s ability to think clearly? A little stress can help to focus your mind so you’re ready to problem solve. However, too much stress can cause you to freeze and do nothing. Don’t let stress about your future career get to you! Every high school student feels pressure, but you don’t have to let it run your senior year.
You are going to figure this out and it doesn’t have to be by tomorrow. Most adults are still figuring out life one step at a time. Regardless of how you feel, remember that it’s better to do something than nothing. Be willing to take the first step into something. With time, everything else will fall into place.