Choosing a college is difficult; choosing a college major is even more challenging. Students face the Cheesecake Factory menu of choices when it comes to choosing where and how they will spend 4–5 of the most pivotal years of their lives.
The vast majority of my career coaching clients are between the ages of 24 and 35. They come to me after college, after selecting a college major based on what they knew about themselves and their options when they were 18 years old. They stuck with it, powered through, and graduated (YAY!). Then came the grind of the workforce. Many of my clients realize within 1 year of working that they do not like the type of work they chose.
This dilemma brings in the sunken cost fallacy. “I’ve sunk so much time and money into this college degree that I have to stick with it!” This is where my 30-something clients come into the picture. After attempting to power through years of working in a job they hate, they finally realize it’s time for change. Better late than never! But . . . what if we could reach some of the students before they choose their college majors? What if students could have confidence in the majors they select because they have awareness about their own unique talents, passions, values, and interests?
3 Important Questions Students Should Ask Themselves
1. WHAT ARE MY UNIQUE TALENTS?
In my experience working with hundreds of students and adults choosing career paths, I have found that most burnout happens not from a bad employer or toxic boss but from . . . boredom.
When you have talent, your brain is telling you that you must use that talent or it will revert into mindless shutdown mode. You “wake up” sometime in your 30s or 40s and realize you’ve been sleepwalking through work for so long. It’s no way to live. I love watching my clients light up when they realize they have incredible talent that can amplify mental stimulation when they find work roles that highlight their talents. You are specially and uniquely gifted. This is why I use the Highlands Ability Battery with my clients. It uncovers an immense amount of talent to create clarity when choosing a career path. Check out this example of a HAB profile.
2. WHICH VALUES PLAY THE BIGGEST ROLE IN CHOOSING MY CAREER PATH?
Your values drive you. You may not even realize it, but they do. If you value wealth creation, then you will make decisions about your college major and career path based on what may offer the highest income. If your top value is helping people, then you might need to select a career less for the income potential and more for the purposeful connection with human beings it provides.
3. WHAT IMPACT DO I WANT TO HAVE ON THE WORLD?
One hundred percent of my adult clients who are in their 40s or 50s are looking for more meaning in life. Many of them have had a tremendously high level of success in their careers but discover that something is missing: purpose. As I work with my clients to uncover their passions, it often becomes clear that they’ve neglected a creative side they loved in their younger years . . . or they feel disconnected from making a concrete difference in the lives of other people . . . or they feel they’ve neglected a spiritual component to their lives for many years.
Asking yourself about your life purpose early on is important. Creating a specific target gives you a compass by which you can make life decisions. If your vision is to build a nonprofit that will provide support to children in foster care, then your college major, career path, and future career decisions will be impacted by that vision. Try this morbid but interesting activity: ask yourself what you want written in your obituary when you die. I want people to say: “He was fun, he made a difference, he was kind to everyone.” What about you?
Luke DeLaVergne is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Career Coach in Nashville, TN. Luke has been helping each client identify a unique life vision for over 15 years. Luke works with students, couples, and adults, to achieve peak performance in academics, relationships, and fulfilling work life.
Through the experience of helping individuals with career anxiety and stress, Luke founded Thrive Consulting in 2018. Helping clients discover their unique talents and passions is the driving force behind Luke’s vision for Thrive Consulting.
This article was originally published at Career Coaching – Discover a Career You Can Love (thriveconsult.org).