I was real lucky when I graduated college. Not only did I purchase a round-the-world ticket to spend 7 weeks weeks backpacking with my roommate, I also had a job lined up upon my return to the States. I should have been the most carefree twentysomething ever. So please tell me why I was sitting on a beach in Ko Pha Ngan (google it!) worrying about where I was be working come November.
You see, I had a position locked in but it was a short-term contract position with little possibility of extension. This freaked me out. Because of that I spent hours in internet cafes from Malta to Hong Kong looking up positions on careerbuilder.com. It was painful.
For as long as I can remember I've always been more worried about what my life is going to look like five years down the line than in three months.
Isn't that how we're taught though?
Anyone who's interviewed has feared being asked the question, "Where do you see yourself in five year's time?"
Other than the fact that this is a horrible interview question, it's unrealistic to ask someone in their twenties...or even thirties for that matter.
In the first decade of our careers we're not only supposed to establish ourselves as a professional with a defined expertise and a track record of success, but also find THE ONE, get married, have babies...oh and get back to work.
That is a straight up recipe for FOMO.
Recently I've been speaking with various college-age women about their number one career question. A single theme cut across all of these conversations. The words were a little different, but the idea was the same: they were scared of making the wrong decision and that one decision impacting the rest of their career.
"I'm worried maybe I'm not on the right path."
"I enjoy what I do but I'm not sure it's what I want to do for the rest of my life."
"I'm scared about not having a plan right now."
I'm pretty sure the band, Twenty One Pilots, is singing about these girls in their song Stressed Out.
What are witnessing is a little thing I like to call future tripping. A business coach recently introduced me to this term and here's why it's so perfect...
When we're so focused on where we could be, what could happen, and the things that could go wrong, we don't take action. We forget about the power of DOING. Some call is analysis paralysis. Others can it procrastination. Either way, we miss out on all of the current opportunities that have the potential to get us places we never imagined being in the first place.
Many of the college women I've spoken to are overwhelmed where they'll be after graduation before they've even had an internship. I was worried about the next job before I started the first job.
Millennials are likely to have more than seven jobs in their careers. This is the new normal. And while I'm certainly not advocating for using this time to just figure things out, I absolutely believe clarity of purpose comes through taking action.
You wanna know the easiest way to help others get over their future tripping?
Stop asking them where they see themselves in one year, five years, or after graduation. Instead ask them what they're doing now that really excites them! You'll learn much more about their passions, skills, and plan this way than any other. Focus on who they are rather than who they will become. Because none of us knows who we're going to be. We're just doing our best at putting one step in front of the other and adjusting along the way.