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If an adult has ever asked you ‘what do you want to do with your life’, you’ll know that it’s not an easy question to answer. Most people can’t even decide what they’re doing this weekend, let alone what they’re going to be doing in 40 years. The truth is, our career can play a really big part in our lives, and the idea of choosing one can be daunting.

If you don’t know what you want to do, settling on a career path can be a big deal. Read on for tips on how to figure it all out.

Think about what you enjoy

What do you really love doing? Think outside the box. There are millions of jobs you probably don’t even know exist, so do some research as to what’s out there. Here's a trick that might help you know what to look for:

  • Get a pen and paper. Write down interests you're passionate about, like fitness, music, food, science or fashion.
  • Write another list of activities you enjoy doing. For example writing, researching, problem solving, experimenting or teaching.

Then try to think of jobs which combine these two - interests and activities. That’s because a career isn’t just about things you enjoy, it’s about finding skills you enjoy using, and want to get better at. It might even help you find a career path you never thought about before– you could be a music researcher, a science writer, or a food scientist!

Consider what lifestyle appeals to you

Would you prefer an indoor or outdoor working environment? Travelling around or staying put? Do you think you'd like a structured office environment, or do you want to be independent and make your own hours? It’s worth thinking about how to fit working into your lifestyle so that it’s an enjoyable part of your life.

Think about whether you want to study

If you know what you want to do, figure out what qualifications are required. Will you need to study at TAFE? At uni? At a design school? Will you have to complete an apprenticeship? Design school? The options are endless. Consider your options and be realistic Depending on where you live, it may not be super-easy, or even possible, to get the job you want right now.

If you’re struggling...

If you’re struggling with the steps above, here are some things you can do:

  • Chat to someone: A lot of the time, we’re our own harshest critic. Get a second opinion from a trusted friend or family member, and find out what they think you’re awesome at. For professional guidance, take all your questions to a careers adviser at school or uni.
  • Map it out: Go to town on a mind map, jotting down all the types of jobs you might be interested in. Then put it out of sight for a week. When you take another peek at it, are there any jobs that stick out?
  • Do some work experience: Volunteer or intern with companies or organisations you like the look of. It’s one of the best ways to get a taste of what to expect in an industry. If you find that it’s not for you, you can simply cross it off your list. Done.

Still not sure what you want to do?

It probably isn’t going to happen that you’ll fall into a job that you love straight away. It takes time, persistence and hard work. In the meantime, any experience is good experience. If you have absolutely no idea where to start, just choose anything – that way, you'll at least start acquiring skills that are valuable in any workplace and learning about the kinds of things you do and don’t like in a job, and about what it’s like to be employed. The good thing is, it’s not a big deal to shift careers. You can always change to something else down the track.

What can I do now?

  • Get tips for interview skills.
  • Talk to a careers adviser.
  • Start answering the questions listed above!