What if I don’t know what I want to do?

Gap year student Leila Wallace offers some words of wisdom to those who aren’t quite sure what the future holds for them…

When we were five, we all had our own idea about what we wanted to be when we grew up, some beyond our wildest dreams. Princesses we saw in Disney films, football icons or our favourite pop stars – everyone had a dream. It was definitely easier answering the question of what we wanted to be when we grew up then than it is now.

Some people are lucky, and can make that dream a reality (we’re looking at you, Kate Middleton). Others however, may not be so lucky. We all know someone who hates their job and wishes they could go back and do something else, something better. Finding a career in something you love is one of the hardest and most important life decisions you will ever have to make. So what steps can you take to make things a little easier?


Experience is key when thinking about careers: whether it’s a part time job or a volunteer position, try out as many things as you can, and if you’re lucky you might just find something perfect. You might work in a call centre, talking to different people every day, volunteer at an animal shelter, saving animals or you might even get the chance to work at a catwalk show – there are endless possibilities. You never know where you might end up. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life and it’s something that can be found anywhere if you look hard enough and believe it or not, it is possible.


If you’re struggling on what to do in terms of furthering your education, getting advice and information from universities on courses they provide is helpful as is talking to careers officers. Taking a gap year after school is another option – a break from education can give you time to think more carefully about what you want to do and you can also can skills and experience along the way! For example, a gap year spending time in a developing country could potentially be life-changing. Travel in general can be incredible, seeing different worlds, meeting different people, hearing different languages – getting a completely diverse outlook on other ways of life.


No matter what you decide to do, go at your own pace. You have as much time as you like and it’s important to use that time. Whatever you choose to do, find a career that you love, something you’re passionate about. Unfortunately for many people this is easier said than done. We may be encouraged by parents and teachers to take the easy, most expected route:  go to school, and then head straight to university, but not everyone’s the same – do what’s right for you. There are so many different jobs out there, so much choice, so many decisions and inspirations. It can be hard discovering your own place in the world.

Happiness is the key to success; we all want to enjoy what we do. It may be hard, you might not find what you want to do straight away, and you might have trouble getting there, but you have your whole life to discover, create and in the end find something that defines you.

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