What Should I Do With My Life?

the farmer in love - il contadino innamoratoRecently I had a woman ask, “Nick, my daughter is going to the college in the fall and has no idea what she wants to do with her life. Can you help her? Don’t you have a test they can take to tell them what they should do?” they ask. Yes, I do. When I took that test it said I should be a farmer or a mortician. I took another assessment in high school that told me I would be good at sales and marketing, even though my passion was education. I went to college declared as a business major, spent two years studying business, and really did not enjoy much of it at all. I eventually changed my major late in my sophomore year back to the education field.

I had another incoming college student and his family talk to me this week. “Our son (it is rarely the student, just the parents) loves sports and is thinking of being a sports management major. What career opportunities will he have?” What they are really asking in both of these questions is this: “We are shelling out a lot of money for college, our child will be accepting a large amount of loans, will it be worth it for them? Will they make enough money to repay everything and still make a living?”

Both questions are similar in that the parents want their kids to be happy while making enough to earn a living. Understandable. Yes, there are some easy assessments people can take, but ultimately, they are a tool and not an answer (something I wished I had discovered earlier–luckily I did not change my major to mortuary science!). So how do you find what to do with your life?

  1. Passions After taking some of those assessments, I ignored my passion of education. It took two years to realize the assessment I took that caused me to change my major was simply a tool and one piece of the puzzle. After changing my major, I found my grades got better because I enjoyed what I was studying and could see how I might be able to use it someday. In the business classes, neither the passion nor vision was there. What are you passionate about?
  2. Abilities I am a natural organizer. My mom will tell you that I used to organize batteries, I enjoyed the process so much (although I do not remember doing that). On a few boards that I serve, I have found that I do very well organizing and administering events or activities behind the scenes. I can be a front-man, but much prefer the background. Though even while I am organizing, I am learning and enjoy passing on that knowledge of the organization to help others be successful. It goes back to my passions.
  3. Personality Each person is created to be a unique individual. Within that uniqueness are various trends that we call personality. I am a loyal golden retriever or guardian, depending on the assessment used. I tend not to make many changes, appreciate the tried and true, and am very loyal. I have a daughter much like me (and my wife, for that matter). And then our second daughter is more of the excited otter. She is a party looking for a place to happen! This bring a lot of joy and outrageous laughter to our home. Everyday, I see how my personality influences what I do and how I do it–both at work and at home. Take the time to understand and embrace your personality.
  4. Experiences We each have different experiences in our lives. My biggest encouragement to college students and their parents is to gain experiences. If your life has revolved around sports since you were five years old, your range of experiences is somewhat limited. One of the best things I experienced in my youth was participating in the Boy Scouts. Through earning merit badges, going camping, learning to shoot guns, researching my family history, and more, I was able to experience many things I loved and many things that I did not care so much for. The breadth of experiences that scouting provided is something I don’t believe I could have gotten anywhere else.
  5. Spiritual Gifts Finally, the Bible tells us that God has provided each of us with gifts to build the kingdom of God. Perhaps it is prayer, teaching, pastoring, or administration. As a Christ-follower, I have found that when I use the gifts God has given me, I am able to minister to people and build up His church.

How about you? Have you ever looked at these five areas of your life? What did you discover?


3 Comments on “What Should I Do With My Life?”

  1. skropp says:

    Great post Nick! Wish I would’ve read it 10 years ago! I remember taking those assessments in school, they’re a joke if you use it as the sole decider for your career!
    I’m learning if you choose based solely on what you’re “good at” you’ll have a chance at being miserable! There are a TON of things I’m good at that I would beat my head against a wall if I had to do them every day…

  2. Ironically enough, the very things that misdirected me, I help people understand better today! I understand beating your head against the wall. I have had a few opportunities in recent years, where if I would have jumped on them, I would be beating my head! Thanks for the comments!

    • skropp says:

      Ya. I’m learning to not put myself in positions where head beating is necessary…it’s a process! Haha

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