Let’s be honest about uni: the struggle is real. Enough said.
We dedicate all this time to reading journal articles, writing essays, and managing those gruelling group assignments, whilst simultaneously trying to earn some sort of income to support our smashed avo fetish, whilst also coordinating 3 web browsers to make sure we secure those concert tickets.
And then, during my degree (and especially since I’ve finished), people expect me to know what I want to do with my life? Really? Yeah cool, I’ll let you know how that goes.
From my time at uni, and even more so now in my role as Recruitment Advisor at UTS:Careers, one of the most common concerns I hear from students is their worry about finding their life’s purpose and passion. With comments like, “I’ve finished and don’t know what to do! It’s too hard to find a job! I have no experience!” or, “Should I apply for this job? Would I like it? Do I want to do it?”
HOLD UPPPPP. BREATHE IN. BREATHE OUT.
With all this talk about how much the world is changing every day, for some of us I strongly believe we don’t have just one passion or purpose, and we don’t have to be restricted to one either! Now I know you might be reading that thinking ‘Yeah that’s easy for you to say missy, you know all that - you’ve graduated and have a job and yadda yadda yah…unlike you, I don’t know the answers to ANY of those questions!’
Yeah well hold on a minute! I was you a few years ago, I was you last week, I am you now! The reality is, no one will ever have final answers to these questions – not even senior managers or CEOs. We grow and change every day. Uncertainty is without a doubt the new norm, and so with that you have two choices: to accept and embrace, or ignore and be left behind.
So, now what? The growth mindset.
Whilst I wish the meme above was true, we all know life doesn’t work that way (trust me I’ve tried and tested the theory multiple times).
In writing this post I wanted to achieve two things: first, to reassure students that they definitely don’t have to have their future career path all sorted out. And secondly, but more importantly, to emphasise the importance of adopting a growth mindset and letting life surprise you.
The term ‘growth mindset’ was coined by psychologist Carol Dweck* and refers to the ‘idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems’. (Dweck’s TED talk on the power of believing you can improve is a definite must-watch!). As a recent grad myself, I’m thinking about the above questions (what I want to do, what I haven’t done, what I should be doing) every day, but I’ve only been able to start answering them by exploring as many new things as possible and adopting a growth mindset in all that I do.
Whether it be internships, programs, societies at uni, random seminars, talks, articles, podcasts, or even new restaurants I want to try (cue my foodie obsession), I’m always exploring and trying new things, making new connections and simply giving things a go. What have you got to lose? Nothing. At. All.
Regardless of whether you get a little or a lot out of an experience, ANY experience will either teach you something, make you question yourself, or maybe even introduce you to new faces. And what’s more, I guarantee that you’ll be perceived as more interesting to others, and be a boss when it comes to personal agility (*hint hint nudge nudge* future employers look for this!). Plus, can you imagine all the extra ammunition you’ll have to totally own any future small talk situations you find yourself in!?
Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting you say “yes” to absolutely everything - we’re only human! Prioritisation is key. But what I AM saying that you can’t just sit there. Get out and explore, and even if you’re scared of something or unsure of how an opportunity will unfold, remember the wise words of Steve Jobs: ‘You truly can only connect the dots looking backwards’.
To finish off I want to leave you with this challenge. Wake up, take a second to think about those questions and the choices you make in life. Reach out and explore new things with a growth mindset… check in with me in 5 years, I bet you’ll have heaps to tell me! Good luck!
*(If you’re interested in reading more from Dweck about the growth mindset, her book Mindset is available at several stores and online retailers. Alternatively, if you’re interested in purchasing the eBook, it is available on iTunes).
Featured image courtesy of Pexels.