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How to make career choices when you don’t know what you want

Do you have a plan for your career? If you don’t have a plan, you can still do something to create opportunities for yourself

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

This question has followed most of us throughout our childhoods. But while we as children could answer something unrealistic like “princess” or “astronaut,” the demand for a realistic answer gets bigger as we get older. They might not accept an answer like “I don't know yet.” You might not feel like you have control over your career when you don’t have a plan. But youare in control.


To plan or not to plan

“Should I have a long-term career plan?" you might think. No, you don't have to have a detailed plan for how your work life should look in the next 10 years. It’s totally OK to be where you are now.

It’s actually a good thing to be unsure about the future. If you knew what would happen in the future, yall you can do is to prepare for it. When you don’t know what will happen, you have the opportunity to be proactive when making decisions, rather than reactive.

You might not be a planner. That’s fine. But it may be a good idea to think ahead and try to form a strategy. Even if you don’t want to. Sometimes it’s good to challenge your comfort zone a little. If you want to try to work with goals and planning, read our guide on how to set and reach your goals.


How to make choices without having a plan

How do you make a choice if you don’t have a plan? What should you go for? And what will guide you? 

If you don’t know what you want to go for, try to be open to new opportunities. Many people will tell you that it was unplanned opportunities that got them where they are today. Opportunities that they couldn't have predicted showed up along the way.

Maybe you think: “That’s great, but I can’t plan for that. I can't control opportunities coming up.” In fact, there are some who argues that you actually can.

Career theorist John D. Krumboltz believes that instead of planning, you should focus on happenstance. That you can actually do something to make opportunities and chances come up:

Be open, curious and attentive. Think about how you can benefit from your experiences or new contacts. 

If you’re not sure whether you should act on an opportunity, use the job value exercise we did earlier as a guide.

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Last Updated 25.07.2021