How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You)

At over 16,000 words, Tim Urban has some good advice for choosing a career. Back in college, I used to shake my head at all the lost students around me. One of my friends said it was unrealistic to expect kids, fresh out of high school, to know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. I argued that eighteen years was plenty of time to figure that out, because it’s not that hard:

Start with things you like, narrow your scope to things you do well, then filter based on viable careers. Smack that list with a hard reality check. Take those that managed to hang on, set them aside, and do some introspection. Identify your goals first, so you can rule out paths that will not get you to them. Hopefully a few careers remain. Identify what drives you last, so you can highlight the paths that will make you happy in the long run. Sort the few that remain by the amount of time and effort it would take you to get into that field and then become successful.

High school students should do this before they graduate high school, not after spending years and tens of thousands of dollars on a degree just to to abandon it partway through — or worse, after spending years and tens of thousands of dollars on no degree, in an undeclared major, just to drop out to learn a trade. Choosing a career is not complex, nor even hard. Society does young adults a great disservice by telling them it is, and by allowing them to put off important life decisions until well into their 20s.