Some of the commonly occurring What If thoughts are:
I am unable to choose the best possible academic plan?
What my family wants for me is different from what I want for myself
I might experience failure
During the middle of my academic year I find something more interesting
Other than these fears, other factors such as social comparison and competition, as well as personal biases of relatives and family friends regarding certain careers may also pose as potential stressors.
A person’s attempt to explore themselves and understand what would give them true happiness in terms of a career would help them steer clear of the anxiety stemming from the above mentioned thoughts.
Social comparison & Self exploration
One of the first things every student does is look around, observe people pursue certain paths, and then feel the need to go the exact same way as them. While we would all want to achieve success in life, what works for one may not work for another. It is therefore best to evaluate and identify our unique strengths and abilities based on which we can zero down upon a few career options.
Define your interests
Make a note of your likes and dislikes with regard to a few interesting academic programs that you may prefer over the others. Make sure that each of these programs have been short-listed because they support your strengths, and also catch your interest.
Three C’s of career planning
The three important C’s of career planning is Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate! A lot of us refrain from asking around in order to avoid comparison and judgement. However, asking about career paths may help one become more enlightened, which in turn would facilitate better choices.
Seek personal feedback
If you happen to know somebody who has studied a program you find interesting at present, it is always best to ask them for student feedback. This exercise is more effective if carried out with those who may currently be pursuing the career, or have recently passed out. The way it is said: only a student would be able to explain what a student actually goes through. ;-)
More often than not, in the process of choosing what would probably define and set the pace for the next few decades of our lives, we end up being too harsh on ourselves. The entire phase drives us to a point of complete frustration, whereby it becomes difficult to spot the positives of a situation. Setting a few days of the week or parts of a day aside for yourself and indulging in activities that give you true happiness - whether it is socialising with friends, or binging on your favorite movie or TV show, make sure you love and pamper yourself enough to be able to cope with the stress.
Story of Aakhil
After having completed his 11th, Aakhil just like many others out there was faced with the challenge of having to choose his career path in a year’s time. This put him under tremendous stress and pressure, since both of his parents were lecturers, so they wanted him to go the mainstream way of pursuing either Engineering, Medical, or C.A. Aakhil, on the other hand, felt otherwise. He knew there were so many career options being offered these days that he was open to exploring them before making a choice. Competition, coupled with parental expectations is what got Aakhil overwhelmed, and that’s when he decided to reach out to a Life Coach.
How it helped
During the course of his conversation with the Life Coach, Aakhil opened up about his childhood aspirations of taking up Mass Media since he always enjoyed observing their work, and also was somebody who was very comfortable with the idea of being in the limelight. However, looking at how everybody around him was either an Engineer, a Doctor, a Chartered Accountant, or Professors like his parents, he was never really able to express his desires. Upon realising how much pursuing his dream course meant to him, the Life Coach motivated him further to convey this to his parents in the right manner.
Aakhil was asked to pen down a letter to his parents which involved thanking them for all the things that they both willingly and sometimes unwillingly did for him through these years. It also highlighted how much they meant to him, and how he wishes to follow his heart, because that is exactly what his parents had done as well. They too had chosen teaching because they loved doing it. He also conveyed his interest in Mass Media studies, and displayed his passion for it by enlisting the institutes and their pros in the letter. Lastly, he ended on a happy note by letting them know how their support would be the best thing that could happen to him, and that it would always be his driving force.
Today, Aakhil is looking forward to joining a good institute for Mass Media studies, and has all the support of his parents, who realised the value of following one’s dreams once they read what their son had to say. :-)
So, if you find yourself struggling to deal with the stresses that stem from having to make that big choice, you now know what to do. Speak to a Life Coach and get sorted! ;-)