Why what you think you want to do is a lie

  March 06, 2017

What do you want to do with your life? A question you've probably been asked a few times in your life, and perhaps a lot more frequently now you're on the verge of joining the working world. It's also a question you are probably asking yourself almost constantly as graduate days draws near. So what's the answer?

Maybe you know, maybe you don't. But we're here to let you into a little secret – whatever you think you want to do is probably a lie, and even if that's where you start your career, the odds of you actually doing that thing for your whole working life are pretty slim.

How do we know this?

Basically because you've never done your chosen job before. If you're dreaming of being a doctor then we bet (and really hope) that you have never had the chance to practice as a doctor – you've never had to do the training, the mountains of paperwork, and dealing with the realities of sick, scared and unhappy people. If you're dream is to be a tree surgeon, you probably don't fully appreciate the hard work involved and the long hours required to be successful. And when you do actually get round to experience the life of a doctor or tree surgeon you are probably going to find that the reality is so far away from what you expected. Sometimes people love their chosen job anyway (which is a good sign you have actually found your ideal job), but for most people they start to realise that what they imagined as their perfect job is actually a lie.

We know it's probably not what you want to hear as you're about to graduate, having completed your degree on the expectation that it will lead you on your merry way to your perfect job, but unfortunately it's the truth. Very few people who actually have the chance to do their 'perfect' job after uni stay in that field, or worse: they do and they spend their whole working lives hating it. When you choose a job based on nothing but assumptions and what you've seen in the media, odds are you'll quickly realise it's not what you were promised expected, but because you've invested time in getting there you feel compelled to stay there, or you spend your entire life bumbling from job to job because you still don't know what you want to do.

The key then is to avoid getting stuck in this trap in the first place. Be bold and leave university with the frank knowledge that you have no idea what job you want to do – and focus instead on what you're good at and what you want from a job. Are you and excellent negotiator, organiser or people person? Do you want a job that offers flexibility, structure or something in between? Are you more creative or logical? These are just a few of the many questions you could ask yourself that would help reveal who you are, and consequently what you value and desire from a job. Match this up with a job that needs these traits (which is what our Happy Work profile does for you) and ta-da – perfect job. And don't get fooled into thinking that it for life; you are going to evolve and grow throughout your career so your job requirements will too – feel free to swap jobs, change companies and get involved in as many industries as you can handle. Your job is where you spend 80% of your awake time, so make sure you get one you like.