As long as you can remember, you always knew exactly what you were going to do next. You didn't have to think too much about it. Every school year came and went. But now you have your high school diploma in your pocket and suddenly the next steps are no longer so clearly predetermined.
Now it's up to you. Only you and the uncertain future. It's your turn to be in charge of your life and that can seem a bit disconcerting at first glance. After all, you want to do everything right and – if possible – not make any wrong decisions.
A bit overwhelming, isn't it? Don't worry, we've all been there. You are not alone in this. This new phase of life will bring new challenges, but also many great opportunities you never had before.
Here we have compiled 5 tips that can help you in this new phase of life:
1. Find out what you (don't) like, and then focus on what you do like
You probably hated math in school, but loved German and foreign languages. Or maybe it was the other way around? For all of us, there were things we liked more or less in school. The good news is that you can now focus completely on what you like. Make a note of which subjects and tasks you had the most fun doing. Even if it was just spending time with your friends over break. This could mean, for example, that you particularly enjoy social interactions with other people, which could open up completely new fields for you to grow in.
2. Take your time with your decision
Even if you're not quite sure what you want to do next – there's no need to rush. Remember, life is not a competition. The road ahead is not a race – not against others and especially not against yourself. Every life path is different, with different goals and different timing. Take the time to explore your options, discover new passions and skills, and/or experience new cultures and challenges. For this, we recommend:
- Complete an internship in a field that interests you: Internships can help you get a very close look at specific areas of work. You'll get a feel for what it might be like to work in this field in the future, and on top of that, you'll gain valuable hands-on experience that will look good later on your resume.
- Explore the world: whether it's for volunteer service abroad or just for fun, travel always takes you out of your comfort zone, fosters your independence and helps you grow.
- Attend lectures and seminars: You don't have to enroll directly in a specific program if you're not yet sure if it's what you want to do. You can attend lectures as a guest student free of charge and without registration and just have a look at how things are going.
3. Talk to people who have jobs you're interested in
Sometimes it helps to talk to those who have already taken a certain career path. Hearing about their experiences will help you determine if this is the same path you want to take, or if it's out of the question for that very reason.
I remember a friend who wanted to be a surgeon at all costs. He had an aunt who was a surgeon herself and took him to the hospital one day where he got to shadow her at work. He even had the opportunity to watch open-heart surgery – and almost fainted in the process. Today he is a very happy musician.
4. Work and gain experience
Yes, you are an adult now . or on the way there. And like any other adult, you will have to work at some point. A job can bring you more benefits than you might think. You'll learn how to take responsibility, how to earn your own money and how to manage it. You will also learn to deal with a wide variety of people (a very underrated skill in life). Also, you can use this to save money while you decide what you want to do next, whether that be study, travel, or something else entirely.
5. Get advice and follow your individual path
Wouldn't it be convenient if a person could help you plan your next steps who is trained to do just that?? Coaching is not therapy. It is a process of self-discovery and personal development. A qualified coach has ideas and methods that can make this phase of life less overwhelming for you. Good coaching will also help you develop skills that will help you in the future if you ever find yourself in a situation of change again and have doubts about your future.
With expert advice on choosing a course of study and a career, you'll go into your future stronger than ever.
We hope these recommendations have given you some useful ideas. Apart from that we would like to give you a very small tip: Remember to enjoy every season of your life, even with its difficult parts.