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7 Ways to Help Your Child Choose a Career

7 Ways to Help Your Child Choose a Career

Recently, a stranger told me his grandson was about to graduate from high school. He said, “I told him he needs to go to college and he should definitely be an engineer. Being an engineer is a great profession. Don’t you think he should be an engineer?”

“I’ve never met your grandson, and without knowing who he is, what his strengths are, and what he’s passionate about, I can’t say what career he would enjoy. I think it’s great when people choose a career where their strengths and passions combine,” I said.

He cocked his head sideways at me. “Hmmmph,” he scoffed. “Passion. Nobody’s passionate about their job. A job is a job,” he ranted.

I smiled at him, and politely disagreed, telling him that it is possible to do work you absolutely love.

When it comes to choosing a career, people are given all kinds of awful advice, including:

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“Choose the prestigious career.”

“Choose the career that will give you the most money.”

“Choose the safe path.”

“A job is just a job. Work isn’t meant to be fulfilling.”

“So-and-so likes her job, so you should do that too.” Or, the opposite: “So-and-so hates his job, so you should never do that.”

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We spend many hours each week, decade after decade, doing work. Doing work you love makes life much more fulfilling. Therefore, it’s imperative we do a good job of guiding and encouraging our children in their quest to find and do work they love.

According to this article, 80 percent of college students in the United States change their major at least once. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that college students change their major at least three times on average during their college career. Choosing a major, and changing it multiple times, can be a stressful time for students.

When students are in college, they frequently don’t have the life experiences or self-knowledge yet to choose a career path that will best fit them.

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help your child navigate these decisions.

Here are some tips to help your child choose a career.

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1. Resist treating your child as an extension of you

Your child is a unique individual. They are not you. The things that might drive you absolutely crazy about a certain job might be the things they absolutely love doing. Resist the urge to tell your child to avoid a certain path just because it’s something that doesn’t interest you. Your child might not be interested in attending your alma mater or doing the work you do.

2. Help your child discover their strengths and passions

Encourage your child to visit with a career counselor to take aptitude tests. The Myers-Briggs test, Strong Inventory, and Holland Code were three of the tests I found beneficial when redesigning my career path. While I don’t recommend basing huge decisions off of one test, I do believe it’s very beneficial to take a variety of assessments and look for patterns among the results. If your child is interested in a career that doesn’t appear to line up with their natural strengths, that doesn’t mean you need to immediately rule out that option as a career. Instead, brainstorm how your child could bring their innate strengths to that field. Their uncommon perspective and strengths in that field could allow them to make a very unique, valuable contribution.

Have them take the strengths assessment in the book Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Pay attention to what comes easily to them that others seem to struggle with. Having a great understanding of their innate strengths will enable you to help them maximize these strengths. Also, help them figure out what lights them up. This is a free workbook to help people discover their passions. I encourage you to print it out and have each member of your family complete it.

3. Help find a mentor for your child

Seek a positive, encouraging role model for your child. If your child shows strong interest in a certain career path, help your child find an inspiring mentor in that field. Having a great mentor can fuel your child’s career aspirations.

4. Expose your child to a variety of activities to see what piques their interest

Give your child opportunities to try new activities. Expose them to nature, the arts, science, museums, animals, travel, people…there are so many opportunities to enjoy together. Pay attention to what piques their interest. If there is a subject they are curious about or they shows excitement toward, encourage them to learn more about that topic. Oftentimes, the decision to choose a certain line of work comes gradually, as people continue to explore their interests more deeply.

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5. Find your tribe, and encourage your child to find theirs

As Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” As a parent, have you built a wonderful tribe of people around you? And, are you encouraging your child to find their tribe? Challenge your child to get out of their comfort zone and get involved. Whether it’s sports, a service organization, a business club, or any of the many other possibilities, encourage your child to spend time with inspiring peers. Who your child chooses to hang out with can greatly affect how big they dream, what they believe is possible, and the opportunities they seek. Having an amazing tribe of people in their life will help them grow into their full potential and can affect many decisions they make.

6. Set a great example

Your child watches your every move, so work on being a great example of doing work you enjoy. When your child sees you building a career you really love, they will know that it’s possible for them to also find and do work they love. You’re never too old to spend more time doing what you love, so seek what lights you up and do more of what you love and less of the unimportant junk.

7. Be patient and encouraging

Remind your child that the quest to do work they loves is often a long process of self-discovery and experimenting. They may change course as they navigate their career path. Be patient with your child during these difficult decisions, and encourage them to keep learning more about themselves so they can keep growing into the amazing person they are meant to be.

Featured photo credit: Southern Arkansas University/https://flickr.com via flickr.com

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Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on September 23, 2020

Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More

Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More

Are you waking up each day looking for that perfect thing, activity, or job that will make your life work? Or, maybe you are looking for that perfect relationship. Once you “get” this new thing that will allow you to do what you love, you are sure that you will be happy forever.

In reality, life doesn’t work like that, and we would probably get bored if it did. There is likely no one thing, experience, or activity that will keep you feeling passionate and engaged all the time. What’s important is staying connected to what you love and continuing to grow in the process.

Here, we’ll talk about how to get started doing what you love and achieving more in life through the motivation it brings. Doing this doesn’t have to take a long time; it just takes determination and energy.

Most People Already Know Their Passion

So many people walk around in life “looking for” their passion. They look for it as if true passion is some mysterious thing that is difficult to find and runs away once you find it. However, the problem is rarely lack of passion.

Most of us already know what we love to do. We know what excites us, even if we haven’t done it for years. Instead, we focus on what we think we “must” do.

For example, maybe you love building model cars or painting pet portraits. Yet, each day you work a completely unrelated job and make no time for the activity you already know you love. The truth is you probably don’t need to find your passion; you just need to start doing what you already know you’re passionate about[1].

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No Activity Is Exciting All the Time

Even people who are living their dream lifestyle or working their dream job don’t love it all the time. Every job or lifestyle has parts of it that we won’t like.

Let’s say your dream is to become an actress, and you succeed. You may not enjoy the process of auditioning and facing rejection. You may experience moments of boredom when you practice your lines over and over again. But the overall experience is totally worth it.

Most of life is like that. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by demanding that life be perfect all the time. If things were perfect and easy, you would ultimately stop learning and growing, and life would begin to lack even more meaning in that case.

Be grateful for both the good and bad moments as they are both entirely necessary if you genuinely want to do what you love and love what you do.

Doing What You Love May Not Be Easy

Living a life you love is unlikely to be easy. If it was, you would not grow very much as a person. And, if you think about a great book or movie, the growth of the main character is what matters most.

What if the challenges you meet along your path to living a life you love were designed to make you grow as a person? You may actually start looking forward to challenges instead of dreading them. An easy life hardly ever makes a compelling story.

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If you struggle to overcome challenges, try writing them down each time you encounter one. Then, write down three ways you could tackle it. Try one, and if it doesn’t work, try another. This way, you’ll learn what does and doesn’t work for you.

How to Do What You Love

There are many small steps you can take to ensure you are making time to do the things you love. Start with these, and you’ll likely find that you’re already on the right track.

1. Choose Your Priorities Wisely

Many people claim they want to do something, yet they don’t do it. The truth is they might not really want to do it in the first place[2].

We all end up following through on what matters most to us. We make decisions moment by moment about what we need to focus on. What we choose to do is what we deem most important in our lives.

If there is something you claim you want to do but you don’t do it, try asking yourself how much you really want it or where it’s currently placed on priority list. Are there other things you want more?

Be honest with yourself: what you currently do each day is a reflection of your priorities. Recognize that you can change your priorities at any time.

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Make a list of your priorities. Really take the time to think this through. Then, ask yourself if what you are doing each day reflects them. For example, if you believe your top priority is spending more time with your family, but you consistently take on extra hours at work, you’re not really prioritizing things in the way you think you are.

If this is happening, it’s time to make a change.

2. Do One Small Thing Each Day

As stated above, doing what you love doesn’t have to mean finding that perfect job that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. If you want to do what you love, start with one small thing each day.

Maybe you love reading a good book. Take ten minutes before bed to read.

Maybe you love swimming. Get a membership at the local YMCA, and go there for thirty minutes after work each day.

Dedicating even a short amount of time to something that brings you joy each day will improve your life overall. You may find that, over time, a career path related to what you love to do pops up. After doing the thing you love each day, you’ll be more than prepared to take it on when the opportunity arises.

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If you need help making time for your passions, check out this article to get started.

3. Prepare to Make Sacrifices

If you are an exceptionally busy person (aren’t we all?), you may have to make sacrifices in order to make space for the things you are passionate about. Maybe you take on less extra hours at the office or take thirty minutes away from another hobby in order to develop another that you enjoy.

Looking at your priority list will help you decide what can get put on the back burner and what can’t. Remember, do this thinking about what will help you feel good about how you’re spending your time. 

For example, if you love writing but rarely make time for it, consider getting up 30 minutes earlier than normal. Or instead of browsing your phone for 30 minutes before bed, you can write instead. There is always a way to find time for what you love.

Final Thoughts

If you love what you do, each day becomes a joyful adventure. If you don’t love what you are doing, life feels like a chore. The best way to achieve success is to design a life you love and live it every day.

Remember, doing something you love doesn’t have to include big gestures or time-consuming projects. Start small and grow from there.

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Featured photo credit: William Recinos via unsplash.com

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