By Ryan Healy — Go to college, graduate with a technical degree and become a professional, preferably a doctor, lawyer or accountant. Join the workforce for a few years, then get married and have a kid or two.”
According to my father this was the typical advice given to young baby boomer boys growing up. Their parents expected them to follow the same straight and narrow path as them. They had a few choices; follow the advice or rebel and make it on their own.
“Be whatever you want to be. Find something you love and pursue that passion. With enough desire and enough hard work you can do anything you set your mind to.”
This was the advice I received growing up. Flash forward to today and I’m still trying to figure out what it is that I love. There are too many choices! Should I join the Peace Corps and rebuild houses in Mongolia? Should I work for a presidential campaign for a year? Should I go to Wall Street and become a money making machine with no time for a social life?
Not only can I choose any career, but I can choose any city, state or country. My family lives all over the United States and my friends live all over the world. I can communicate and keep relationships with them through the internet no matter where I move. I feel no pressure to get married or start a family any time soon. I can do all of these things when I am ready.
The choices go way beyond career and family. I can choose from hundreds of TV channels, and if I don’t like the graphics I can choose to watch them in HD. The Internet, where I spend too much time, is a big black hole of decisions about information. Even the cereal aisle at the grocery store can turn into a painful decision process. Life in the 21st century is a constant choice.
If you don’t have you’re head on straight it is much easier today to become paralyzed into inaction because you don’t know what the perfect choice is. Many of my peers will probably never specialize in anything because we will never be satisfied. How can we be? There is so much more to do and so much more to explore. And it’s just a click or two away!
Having an unlimited amount of possibilities is one reason so many of my friends move back home after college. They just don’t know what the right choice is. I can see why some people think this is a problem. Living at home until age twenty-five was not the norm in the old days, but neither was working eight different jobs by the time you are thirty. As long as you are working towards an end goal or figuring out what line of work will be best for you, living at home for a few years is a great option.
One of the most difficult realizations I have made is that there is no such thing as the perfect decision. Whether you are picking out what type of cereal to buy, what TV show to watch, or what career path to venture down, you can only make a decision based on what you know at that particular time. This is why it is so cool to be joining the workforce today. If you make a bad decision and enter a new career that doesn’t align with your strengths, wants, or desires, then you can simply pick up and make another career change with very little consequence.
Making the wrong career choice is not nearly as life altering as it was thirty years ago. It’s a different world today. It’s a beautiful world filled with endless possibilities, and maybe too many. But you know what? I would never trade a life filled with unlimited possibility for a pre-written script. Luckily, that’s one choice I don’t have to make.
Ryan Healy’s blogs is Employee Evolution.