Life used to be simple. We live in an age of knowledge in which we are constantly bombarded by impressions. From a young age we are expected to make life choices. Many of us feel that we are forced to make decisions without having the time to properly explore our options. In my teens and my twenties the fear of closing doors felt very real. It kept me from committing. Is that relatable?

Some of us have ‘end goals’ from a young age. Growing up, I had a friend who wanted to be a commercial pilot. When I say wanted, I mean passionately needed. I was jealous of him for knowing exactly what he wanted mainly because he could set out an exact route to get to where he wanted to go.

The dutch have a word: keuzestress, which is a noun describing the stress involved with making choices

At a young age we are grouped with other kids that are intellectually, sometimes demographically similar. Then, we are given some options in terms of education. In the Netherlands at the age of 12 to 14, you are already making choices that at the time feel like they might impact your future. So, we take advice from our surroundings. Teachers and parents. They do their best but at the end of the day, they are not you. Here are some convictions I use to help people define what they want to do.

12 convictions to (re) shape a career

  • Life is a journey, not a destination. This might sound a bit too buddhistic to young people but as we age, we come to realise it is true. Don’t pressure yourself into defining an end goal. Focus on learning and experiencing.
  • Jour job and your college degree do not define you. Your actions do.
  • People very often build a career in a different field to what they studied for.
  • As you get older your drivers change. When we are young we feel we have something to prove. It takes years to discover it’s more important to make ourselves happy, even if that means earning less or not being cool.
  • Work and indeed life is about learning, being passionate, achieving a result and finding some satisfaction.
  • It’s 100% okay to regularly recalibrate whether you are doing what you want to do.
  • Keep investing in yourself. Get to know yourself better and better..
  • Follow your gut sometimes. We get caught up in our thoughts because we learn to rationalise. Often thinking in the same circles over and over. A good way to start feeling instead of thinking is moving the body. The body is our portal to the subconscious. And on a subconscious level, you know what you want and what you need. Epiphanies often come while working out, first thing in the morning after a good night’s rest or under the shower. All moments in which the body is primed to feel. Engaging the subconscious is an area in which a good coach can really make a difference.
  • Don’t get too caught up in opportunities that arise. Often we take chances we see, which is great. Just beware that there is a risk of straying away from what feels right for you.
  • Ask yourself: who is driving the bus I’m on? Give me a moment to explain. We often join people and their dreams when we haven’t defined our own. We get on their bus and they are driving. If you haven’t figured out your own destination, hopping on this bus might be a good way to see some places. But do not forget to work on defining your own destination and keep wondering whether the bus you are on will pass your destination so you can disembark there.
  • Brainstorm and mindmap. Rule number 1 of any creative session: in this phase you do not think of problems or issues ahead. Focus on: what if I could do anything, what would I want? Start drawing, be creative. Are you more of a lists type of person? Go for it. List things that make you happy and things that don’t. Try not to be too specific too quickly. Start generic like: I like helping people. I like lots of social contact. I like having targets. I dont work well under time pressure. Be sure to list fields of work and industries that interest you. Also list the ones that don’t! Then, summarize so you can look at it when confronted with an opportunity. Does the opportunity match your wishes?
  • Find a coach to help you into the right mindset. A good coach does not need more than 1 to 3 sessions for this.

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