Deciding what to do with your career is rather like getting into a relationship. You’re attracted to an idea, you flirt with it a bit, perhaps get rejected once, twice or fifteen times, and probably change your mind a lot. You pick yourself up, try something new, and then out of nowhere you find the one and everything falls into place.

The problem is, there are solutions for dating on every corner of the internet. But sadly, your dream job probably isn’t waiting for you on the right hand side of your next swipe. *notes down idea for millennial-friendly job hunting app in goals journal*

But seriously, how are we meant to know what the hell we want to do with our lives? With industries changing and evolving faster than The Bachelor giving out roses, we twenty-something’s are finding it harder and harder to find our life’s purpose.

At almost 28, I can say I am in a career I thoroughly enjoy. I studied marketing, and now specialise in the copywriting function of marketing. No, I don’t mean copyright law. I have to correct a lot of people on this. Copywriting is basically everything you see written in all advertising, marketing and branding material. Words on a website – that’s me. Ad copy on billboards? That’s me. Social media content – that’s me.

But if I’m honest, it wasn’t as plain sailing as it sounds. Recently someone asked me how I decided what I wanted to be, and as I looked back at my twenties and late teens, I started to retrace my steps and work out how I wound up here.

Put the work in

What I realised was, you actually have to put a fair bit of work into deciding what you want to do. It very rarely falls into place, unless you’ve dreamed of being a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher from a young age.

It’s all about getting to know yourself, what you like, and perhaps more importantly – what you don’t like. Throughout my 12 or so years of working, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Even if you’re not in a field you want to be in, you can still be chipping away at finding your career identity.

Look at what you like about the jobs you’ve had, and then look at what you don’t. Even in your earliest jobs as a young student, you can ask yourself key questions that will ultimately help define your perfect career path. Do you hate speaking to people? Or do you love it? Do you like having a routine, or do you prefer doing different things each day? Do you like running shifts, or are you happier with a manager to oversee what’s happening?

Get to know yourself

As you move into other jobs, dig deeper into the aspects you enjoy.

  • Are you a numbers person? Maybe you’d do well in a more analytical environment.

  • Do you like being creative? Advertising or design could be for you.

  • Do you like recommending products to people? You might be a born salesperson.

  • Do you feel comfortable telling people what to do? You sound like a management candidate.

  • Are you mega organised and love exceeding expectation? You can make big bucks as an executive assistant to high-level corporates.

The reality is, deciding what you love to do doesn’t fall into your lap. Often the job you end up doing will be one you didn’t even know existed.

Explore what’s out there

Spend some time on job sites just browsing what’s out there. Type different keywords and dig deep into job descriptions, even if you know instantly that you’re nowhere near ready for that type of role. It can help you identify areas to upskill, and ways you can play to your strengths. Online learning resources like Skillshare can help you gain relevant skills to make your experience more attractive to potential employers, too. If you do find something that appeals to you, there’s never any harm in reaching out to the business.

Explain that you’ve seen the ad and it’s a role you’d be interested in, and perhaps ask whether they have any internships available, or any tips on the best route to that kind of career. Cold emailing was a big part of my career journey, and I’ve pretty much got that strategy to thank for where I am right now.

It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to deciding what to with your life – but just enough to kick you into gear. You don’t want to drive yourself crazy, but you also shouldn’t be waiting for a flashing golden sign telling you what to do. You need to get out there and do the groundwork. You’ll find you’re rewarded for doing so, trust me.

My career journey

If you want to know more about the journey I took to finding the right career for me, you can read my story here.

And if you’re having career worries, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram. I’ll happily chat to you about the ways I’d approach your situation, and brainstorm where to go from here. Talking to people is really helpful in getting to know yourself and what you want from your career.