Career

Why It’s Totally Okay To Have No Idea What You Want To Do

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’. Or, you know, maybe not. CHLOE PAPAS explains why it’s not the end of the world if you’re not sure what you’re doing with your life.

It’s that time of year: maybe you’re heading to uni or TAFE, starting an apprenticeship or a new job, or are staring blankly at a screen while you scroll through job listings. There are advertisements everywhere about ‘starting on a journey to the rest of your life,’ and your relatives keep asking what your plans are. Maybe you have a vague idea, or maybe your current plan is to see how many episodes of Jane the Virgin you can watch in one day (take it from me, the answer is: a lot).

>And guess what? That is absolutely fine! Contrary to what you have been taught your entire schooling life, or what those ads on the side of Facebook say, you really don’t need to know what you want to ‘do’ yet.

Most people are in the same boat

Okay, sure, you probably know a few people who have always known exactly what they wanted to do and are firmly on the right path to get there – the smug bastards. But everyone else out there is muddling along, just like you; dodging questions from grandma and trying to stem that career anxiety. If you’ll allow me to talk about myself for a hot minute: I started out doing a law degree, quit uni to travel for a bit, went back to do a communications degree, and now work across at least three different sectors on any given day – and sometimes, I still have no idea what I’m doing. Give yourself time, try different things if you have the capacity to do so, and remember that you don’t have to settle on anything.

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There are more career paths than ever before

The world is your slimy delicacy to grab by the shell and just take it – or something. As we advance more in terms of technology, science and accessibility, job prospects improve across the board, and there are more opportunities out there to create your own career. According to the ABS, more than half a million Australians have more than one job, and more than half of those people are totally happy with their life choices. Want to be a writer and work in hospo on the side? Do it. Finishing up a trade apprenticeship while inventing something to help out the mining industry? Awesome. Working as a physio and running an Instagram-run cake shop? Nice one, please send me some cake.

You don’t have to do the same thing forever

Gone are the days of sticking with the same career or workplace for decades. Though the job market has become more fickle, that hasn’t scared us off – Gen Y has wholeheartedly embraced change, and the ability to move between industries, gigs, and countries. A friend of mine started out studying physiotherapy, switched to communications, worked in marketing overseas for a little while after uni, and is now writing up plans to open her own bar. And she bloody loves it. “I definitely didn’t do things the traditional way,” she laughs. “And there were heaps of times where I was worried that I should be sticking with one thing, but I’m so stoked with where I’m at now.”

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Being an entrepreneur is super on trend

The term ‘entrepreneur’ may sound super wanky, and it’s probably best that you don’t get business cards made up with that as your title. But, a U.S. study from 2014 shows that millennials are the generation that will be shaking things up. 67% of respondents in the study hoped to start their own business one day, and the research shows that those of us who are under 35 are hoping to dodge the traditional work path. Rather than aiming to climb to the top of the ladder in someone else’s business, we want to start our own companies, create our own paths, and collaborate along the way. There are heaps of courses and grants out there for people who have a cracker idea, so get some pretty stationery and start brainstorming.


Chloe Papas is a journalist and writer based in Victoria. You can find her on Twitter @chloepapas