From Dr. Jane's Notebook
"20-Somethings" need a life plan, too
Remember when we used to ask children,
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Every kid seemed to have a
pre-rehearsed answer along the lines of fireman, policeman, doctor, lawyer or
veterinarian. As women entered more traditionally male occupations, we stopped
expecting little girls to answer either nurse or teacher, and we learned to
stumble awkwardly over terms like “police-person” and “postal-officer”. Next
came a host of technical responses from kids, such as software engineer,
entrepreneur or microbiologist, which often left us silently puzzling and
scratching our heads. But today, the most worrisome responses come from young
adults who say, “I have no idea!” Unfortunately that’s where many get stuck and
where many remain.
- “What do you want to do on the planet today?”
Many young adults today suffer from what I call, closed door syndrome.
Whether or not the doors are actually closed, young people may automatically
discount their ability to compete in the field of their choice. They may
assume they lack the intelligence, ability to learn, or the financial backing
to go to school or return to school. They may be laboring under the glass
ceiling of self-concepts assigned to them in high school or earlier in their
developing years. Disheartened before they begin, they may feel robbed of
their ambitions and confidence.
- If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t get
there. This familiar notion suggests the very real need for a Life Plan.
No matter when it’s started, at age 2 or age 22, the development of a plan
must begin inside one’s heart. The process begins with getting to know
yourself, coming to like yourself, and finding out what makes you happy. This
requires a heart to heart talk with one’s self, free from opinions that would
cast aspersions on your dreams. The politically-correct question to ask those
who are well on their way to being grown up, is “So, if you could do anything
you want, what would that be?”
- Look around at the work being done by others.
Sources of inspiration are all around us. If you don’t have a real-life role
model in your family or nearby, spin the dial on your television to observe
people doing all kinds of work. On one channel, you may observe deep sea cave
divers working in the field of marine biology; on others, you can observe the
work of forensic scientists, judges in courtrooms, teachers in classrooms, and
even the work of television production. There are all levels of jobs to be
done in every field of endeavor. Don’t be misled by gloomy unemployment tales;
our world is always changing!
- Seek the advice of career counselors. Every
college or technical school employs them, and many career counselors work in
private practice. Take a career interest test to learn more about
yourself. (If you’ve taken one before, be aware that results change over
time). The key word here is interest; the goal is to find out what
interests you. No matter how skilled you are, if you don’t like what
you’re doing, it will be very difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Many
“successful” people have been known to quit, saying “I never wanted to do that
job--- someone else said I would be good at it”. Career interest tests reflect
back to you the kinds of work that might make you happy now.
Regardless of when you start constructing your
Life Plan, place yourself in the center of the plan. You may already be married
or have children, and if so, they will be part of the plan. For now however,
take time to consider how to become the person you want to be.
Imagine your desired future, say ten and even
twenty years from now. Think about places where you would like to live, the type
of home you would like to call your own, the friends and family you would like
to have, and the amount of money you will need to earn through your work or
investments. Write down your dreams and keep them close to the place inside you
where decisions are made. The choices you make will bring you closer to your
dreams or take you further away. No path is without its detours, but the
precious possession of a Life Plan will always help you get back on track.
©Copyright, 2005, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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