We are extremely fortunate in 2019 that we have such a wide variety jobs and careers from which to choose. However, it is precisely this reality that causes some anxiety, trying to make sure that whatever we settle on is ideal for us. For these folks, only having a few career options to decide between would be preferable, just like having to decide between vanilla, strawberry or chocolate ice cream as opposed to having 48 flavours to choose from and deliberating for a ages so they don’t lament what isn’t chosen.
The analogy of choosing a flavour of ice cream is a good one though. If you’ve ever been in line looking at those 48 choices, you probably rule out some immediately. Some you’ve tried and don’t enjoy while others just don’t appeal at all. The list is reduced to ones you’ve tried and enjoyed and the ones that arose your curiosity. But as you stand in line, getting closer to ordering, the real question is, “What do I feel like right now?” And so, you order Raspberry Thunder even though you also like Pralines and Cream, Butterscotch Ripple and Double Chocolate. This choice of ice cream doesn’t restrict you to placing the same order next weekend and every weekend to come; once decided upon, you leave satisfied and enjoying what you have – not regretting what you didn’t choose.
Picking a career works much the same. There are likely several jobs you would enjoy doing and others you rule out automatically. Of the ones you don’t want to apply to, you may have had previous experience you don’t want to repeat or just instinctively feel you wouldn’t like or be good at. What you might be left with on your list is deciding between things you’d like and things you’d like. Anyway you look at it, you win.
So what’s the problem? Well, one problem is we don’t have a board with all the occupations on it to choose from. Even if such a board existed, new job titles seem to be added all the time. How are you to know if you’d like a job or not if you don’t understand what the job actually entails just from the title? Take examples like: Bung Hole Borer, Value Creator or Augmented Reality Designer. You’re excused if you ponder what these could be before reading on. Bet you search online for one of them if not all. Furthermore, job titles are often shortened such as a CSR (Customer Service Representative) or QA Inspector (Quality Assurance Inspector). I recently helped someone with their resume who couldn’t even remember what the letters meant in a previous job title they had because they only used the short form. They had to actually call the previous employer and ask!
All is not lost though. Remember those ice cream flavours you narrowed down as the ones you’d enjoy? The thing is you know that any one of them will actually satisfy your taste buds. To fully enjoy the ice cream as you walk away cone in hand, all you really need to do is focus on what’s in your hand at this moment and move on, leaving behind the others.
Choosing a job works the same way. Over the course of your working life, you’ll have several jobs in all likelihood. This decision you’re contemplating doesn’t mean you’re locked in to one career forever anymore than choosing Rocky Road today means you have to choose it every single time you get a cone.
I hear your objections already. This choice of what to do; of what to be is much more critical than choosing an ice cream flavour. The implications are more serious. Are they? Really? Remember you’re choosing from jobs you’d enjoy, not jobs you wouldn’t. Once you’ve eliminated jobs you don’t want to do, you’re left with ones you’d like. Don’t worry that there’s some job out there you’re totally unaware of that would be perfect for you. That’s like denying yourself a flavour of ice cream right now because somewhere in the world there might be a flavour being sold that you’d go nuts over. That doesn’t help you if the ice cream shop you’re standing in line at doesn’t carry that flavour. And besides, you wouldn’t even know what to ask about would you?
As we grow up and meet new people, experience new things, we do learn about the different roles, jobs, occupations and careers in the world. You can go online and look at job websites, search for odd job titles if you wish or just discover them accidentally. Some will have sticking power and others are just weird and disappear quickly. We still have Teachers, Doctors, Construction Workers, Labourers and Sales People; probably always will.
Deciding between a job you’d like and a job you’d like therefore might come down to just flipping a coin. When it’s in the air, you likely feel hopeful for one over the other. Make a decision and move on or apply for both and go with the one that offers you an interview and then puts forward a job offer. Start doing the job and when you feel you’re ready for something new or possibly different, make a plan and put it into action.
Can’t decide? Do several jobs; find what you like and don’t. It’s all part of growing and it’s normal. All the best.