Choosing What's Next, After High School
Think about this — you’ve spent practically your entire life being told what to do.
When you were younger, you were told when to go to bed and when to take a bath.
As you approach adulthood, you’re given some latitude. But, there are curfews. And, perhaps, even some stern reminders about things like showers.
At school, you’re told what you need to know. What you need to achieve. What boxes need checked in order to graduate.
Nearly everything is decided for you. Often those decisions are made by people you’ll never know or even meet. Your world is full of standards handed down from the state. And, you just follow along. Checking things off as you go.
And, then, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, you’re told you need to choose what’s next. What comes after high school.
It’s weird, really, how much we limit your freedom of choice and yet expect you to make a choice. A choice we lead you to believe should last a lifetime.
Up until now, we’ve not given you a lot of opportunities to practice making choices. Up until now, we’ve mostly let you pick, but not choose.
We let you pick from classes that are being taught, sports that are played, clubs that are organized. But, we never really let you choose much of anything.
It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just the way we have to systematize learning in order to educate everyone.
Just like how we try to help you choose “what’s next.” We reduce that help to interest surveys. So, we can help everyone.
Those surveys have the appearance of personalized help. But, they’re not. They’re simply statistical predictions on what you might enjoy.
It’s tempting to believe the results. After all, you’re looking for an answer. THE answer. You’re so used to being told what to do.
And, it’s natural to want a magic formula. You know, input a few facts about yourself and suddenly your future is clear. It’s simply not easy making choices.
But, surveys and formulas are a horrible approach. You need to make your own decision. Based on what’s best for you.
And, here’s where the 21st Century is bringing you some good news. Something that should help in making this decision.
The “what’s next” choice is no longer a choice that has to last a lifetime.
Decades ago, when career paths were straight, you would start a career with one employer and work your way up. Your loyalty to that employer was rewarded with a pension. Maybe even a gold watch.
When we all pretty much stayed with one employer, then choosing “what’s next” really was a once in a lifetime decision. The younger you started, the greater the chances you could stay for 30 years, retire with full benefits and spend the rest of your days hunting and fishing.
But, now, we’re in the age of agility. Loyalty is completely gone. Staying in one job for just five years is a “long time.”
So, what does that mean for you? How does that help you choose what’s next?
It removes the pressure. The choice is not so big.
“What’s next” is no longer a once in a lifetime choice. It’s just one choice in a lifetime.
So, relax. Don’t put all your trust in surveys. Don’t look for a magic formula. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. Just think about what you want to do, and start down the path to doing it.
Know that whatever choice you make is reversible. It’s not life or death. It’s not riches or rags. It’s simply a choice you’re making based on who you are right now, at this particular point in your life, with what you have available to you.
And, know that everyone at some time in their life makes a choice they later regret. It happens. We’re human. It’s not the end of the world. Life will give you another opportunity to make a different choice. So, just keep moving forward. Making choices as you go.