What will I do with the rest of my life?
The moment arrives at some point for everyone when the question arises, what will I do with the rest of my life? What do I want to do for work, for the rest of my life? This question is not only going to be present with us at the end of high school anymore, it will come up after university, and when we are in-between jobs in our 20’s and in our 30’s and 40’s, and then again at the age that people used to call “retirement”, which has now become another time of reinvention. In fact, this question will meet us at every major life transition and at each meeting we will wrestle with it like the lion that it is.
The average graduate in 2018 will have 17 different jobs in the span of their career according to the Caroline Konrad, the Director of Ryerson University Career and Co-op Centre. With so much change and movement in the workforce across sectors, we all need to get used to having to answer this question many times over and find sources of motivation and creativity to help us continue to rise to the challenge of answering it.
Unfortunately, the career advice of yesterday does not serve us well to navigate the new job terrain of today. The idea of having “one career” with a linear trajectory right out of high school is no longer a common circumstance, yet the advice we often get is no different than it was generations ago - chose something to specialize in early and find a permanent position as soon as possible to stay in for the rest of your working life. When most of us do not even come close to achieving this now-unusual career trajectory, it can lead to existential crisis and feelings of failure and confusion.
There are kinder and more helpful questions we can ask ourselves to navigate the complexities of today’s careerscape. With the knowledge that we will most probably not do any one thing for work for the rest of our lives, we can begin by adjusting our own personal expectations to match that reality. I invite you to answer the following questions for yourself right now. What skills do you want to learn, right now? How do you want to grow in your life, this year? Who do you already know in your life that you would like to learn from, right now? What skills do you have that you can help others with, starting today?
We can only answer these questions for ourselves in present time. By living the answers, we build a career full of different jobs that weave together a lifetime of experiences – one day at a time. Answering these questions over and over again is the unique process of the making of your life story, finding out what you like to do, who you are in the workplace and in life, and what you are good at. It is a special and beautiful journey that no one else can take for you or take away from you.