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Career Advice at 25 — I Don’t Know What I want to be when I grow up!

People often say that a rewarding career is more about personal fulfillment than it is about bringing in big bucks. Many of us agree with this statement. The truth is, most people would rather be happy than rich. Meaningful work is one of the keys to personal fulfillment, especially since we spend approximately 33% of our adult life working. Research shows that if you have a career that complements your personal values, you’re much more likely to be happy than if you’re working a meaningless job.

So, what advice do you give to a 25 year old who is unhappy working at his high paying corporate job?

The best thing, of course, is to find a job you love and pays well, which is not an easy thing to do. Part of the problem is that a lot of people don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. If you are asking yourself whether you should quit your corporate job, you probably already made the decision in your heart, but not yet in your mind. Every day, you hate getting up and going into the office. But you are afraid that if you try switching careers now, you won’t be making that much money anymore. Take a look at the few steps below which could ease your transition to a new fulfilling career.

Find out what you really want. This first step is difficult but crucial. Figure out what it is that you really want to do. What would make you happy? It can take a lot of soul-searching to find out what exactly a meaningful job is for you.

Find something that drives you right now. At 25, you have the whole world in your hands. If you are not married and you don’t have any dependants, you are only responsible for yourself. This is the perfect time to figure out what kind of work satisfies your needs. At the end of the day you need to feel good about your work no matter how much or little you were paid for it.

Reduce your lifestyle. Find out what your needs are. Evaluate your lifestyle. A simpler lifestyle means more flexibility in your career search. By lowering your expenses, you will have more options. What type of person are you? How much do you value life experiences such as travel, volunteer work, and acquisition of knowledge as compared to the acquisition of wealth?

Take baby steps. At your age, a career change doesn’t have to mean all or nothing. You don’t have to choose between a well-paid job you don’t like and the complete unknown. You have many other options, for example, learn a new skill that interests you, or start a blog about your interests and experiences, start a small business on the side, take evening online classes which can help you further your career and help you get a promotion. As it is in life, some small steps lead to bigger and better things, others don’t. But as long as you just sit here feeling sorry for yourself, rest assured, nothing will change at all. Change is scary for a lot of people, but change can also bring tremendous rewards.

You are young. Having a mediocre job at 25 is very common. A lot of people act as if their jobs are a lot more fabulous than they really are. It’s one way to show off. Don’t get sucked in by it because, for most of them, it’s not true. Dig a little deeper and you will see that things aren’t always what they seem. Explore your options. For example, let’s say you are currently working for an advertising agency but you’re not happy with your position. Perhaps working for the advertising agency is still the right fit for you, but you need to switch departments within the company in order to be fulfilled. If you’re learning a great deal at your current job, give it a chance; it just might lead somewhere. Don’t drop out just because things get a little tough.

Help others. Find a way to help other people. Volunteer in a shelter or soup kitchen on a weekend. Seeing people who own next to nothing may put your life into perspective. Besides, helping the less fortunate will bring instant gratification and happiness into your life too.

There are no perfect answers to this question. What’s great is that at 25 you can still make mistakes and get away with it without many consequences. However, as you get older, that flexibility becomes smaller. Your obligations become greater with age, making this decision more difficult. If you want to explore, do it now. Ultimately, the decision is yours no matter what other people tell you.

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