Navigating Career Choices without Getting Freaked Out


Are you or your teen feeling overwhelmed by the daunting task of choosing a career? You’re not alone. Many young people experience anything from mild worries to complete freakouts when faced with endless career choices and the idea of having to choose one thing. But fear not! I see this a lot and today I’ll introduce you to a concept that I have seen take the pressure off a lot of the teens I work with, and that can transform the overwhelming decision-making process into something exciting and liberating. So, if you’re looking for a way to alleviate your teen’s concerns and guide them toward a positive mindset, read on!

First Career, Not THE Career

Did you know that teens today are predicted to change careers on average five or six times? It’s becoming the norm, rather than the exception. So when your teen makes their initial career choice, it’s important to remember that it’s just that— their first career, not a lifelong commitment that they have to stick to until retirement. Reframing this decision as a starting point rather than the final decision, can take off the pressure and empower young people to make better choices.

They can develop their ideas and awareness through their education choices, and eventually their first career choice. Once they start that first “serious job” they will learn so much more. Not just about the work, but about themselves and the world of work in general. Then they can take that knowledge and use it to make their next career move and choose a position that has more of what they like, hopefully, less of what doesn’t work so well for them, and the opportunity to try something new they want to explore. Depending on their ideas and circumstance, this might be a move within the same field, or it could be a complete career change.

There Is Time

There is nothing wrong with them if they are not sure about what career they want at 16 or 18. It is very normal. But if they have lots of friends who knew since they were five what their dream career was, it can feel quite isolating and scary. But don’t let it discourage them.

Help your teen to find examples of people within your circle of friends or family who either discovered their career passions later or changed direction multiple times. And you can find lots of positive and diverse career journeys online.

If they are worried about what to do next in case it doesn’t work for whatever career they want to do in the future, encourage some broader exploration. It can be helpful to choose some areas to explore (e.g. degrees, apprenticeships, and careers related to their favourite subjects or interests) and have a look at what “is out there”. Then they can think about what paths might look interesting enough to try and keep open. This can be particularly helpful for young people choosing college courses, as they can check if particular courses would help to keep areas of interest open or could help them to explore something a bit more. Or it can help them to create a long list of activities to do during a gap year, e.g. relevant work experience or visiting employers and universities.

More Than One at a Time

On top of the likelihood of having multiple careers throughout their lives, young people have the option to pursue more than one career at the same time. Side hustles and part-time jobs that allow them to leverage different skills and interests are increasingly common. And of course, they can maintain their other passions through volunteering or hobbies. Starting a career doesn’t mean giving up on everything else in life, nor does every passion need to be part of their future careers.

Remember, choosing a career is not a one-time, do-or-die decision. Embrace the knowledge that your teen will have the opportunity to explore various paths and make multiple career choices along the way. Encourage them to embrace that flexibility and approach the decision-making process with confidence and optimism. By reframing the concept of a career into an ongoing process rather than a one of decision, you enable them to explore the many possibilities, and embrace the many options, so they can embark on a fulfilling and rewarding professional journey.

If you want to help your teen explore all the great options out there and find some inspiration for possible future options, including possible careers, make sure you join my free Facebook group for parents here

And if you are looking for some inspiration for careers your teen might love, have a look at my digital career inspiration booklet here. It has 24 pages of career suggestions by subject/area of interest. So whatever subject your teen loves in school or college, you should find some suggestions to explore in it. If you would like some personalised support, you can find out about the individual careers guidance sessions I offer here.

Hi, I’m Theresa!

I’m here to help you and your teen find their Cheerful Career!

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