Paralyzed By Choices

My conversation with a young cab driver the other day went something like this:
Hank: If you weren’t driving this cab, what you rather be doing?
Cabbie:  I’m not sure. I’ve thought about doing a lot of different things.  I only graduated high school last year and needed to find work, and this is what I got?
H:  Is this the only kind of work you looked for?
C:  Yes because it was the only type of job I thought I could get with only a high school diploma.
H:  Did you get hired to drive a cab because you had a diploma, or because you had good driving skills, and a good knowledge of the geographic area where you are expected to drive?
C:  Because I’m a good driver and I know the area.  But even knowing the area isn’t that important any more with a GPS navigation system in every taxicab.
H:  But you got hired for your skills!
C:  Yes.  But I could do all kinds of jobs, I just thought this would be the easiest to get.
H:  OK, but if you wanted to pursue another kind of job, what would it be?
C:  I’m not sure.  I could do lots of different things. I’m not stupid.  I can learn.  But I just never made an effort to go after any one thing.  I’ve thought about being a doctor, so I could help people.
H:  Have you done any research about what it takes to become a doctor, the years of schooling and internship?
C:  No, but I know it requires a lot of study and takes a long time, so maybe its not right for me.
H:  OK, is there another job you can see yourself doing that doesn’t require the same level of education?
C:  I don’t know!  There are just too many choices.  I wouldn’t know where to begin.
H:  Do you have any interests or hobbies?  What did you dream of doing when you were a kid?
C:  I didn’t’ really explore my options the way other kids might. I just wanted to get through school and thought something would draw me in, but it didn’t.  So now I don’t know what to do next to improve my life.  There are just too many choices!
Now when the cabbie said this, he sounded dejected and frustrated by having too many choices. It was obvious that he didn’t know where to begin to narrow those choices to look at choosing a career path. So after explaining that I provided career development and counseling services, here was the advice I gave him.
Contact the community colleges and ask how you can participate in career interest and skill assessment testing.  Find out what your strengths are, and learn how and where they can be applied in the workplace.
From the results of those assessments, start researching the jobs that are most strongly indicated and see if they really hold any interest for you.  They may at least provide a starting point for something of related or similar interest.
Find out what it takes to get the skills needed to do those jobs.  Do they require 2 or 4 year college degrees, specific vocational training, testing and certifications, or on-the-job training?  Or do they require just a lot of hard work and perseverance?
Next, find out where those jobs are and try to meet people who are doing those jobs – called informational interviewing – and learn all you can about the areas that interest you.
The people you meet at this stage may be able to help you find an internship, mentoring program, or entry-level opening to help you get started in that field.
And then I reminded him that he just has to take things one step at a time to pursue a goal.  Sure it won’t happen over night, but until he takes that first step he gains nothing.  And then I also reminded him that he loses nothing by trying. With so many choices in front of him, taking that first step – in any direction – is always a winning move.
As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself!”  Don’t let the fear of too many choices paralyze you from taking that first step.  You can’t achieve any career goal unless you take that first step, any better than the cab driver could get me to my destination without first starting the engine of the cab!
Take that first step!
To learn more about how we can contribute to your job search and career development, please visit:
Thank you!