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Why Do Millenials Seem to Lack Direction for Finding a Career Path?

Updated on October 27, 2018
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Nicole has a degree in psychology and is a mom to four sons. She has four cats, three of whom were once feral kittens found in her backyard.

Do Millenials Lack Direction for their Career Paths?

Many of the friends and family I know do not know what job or career they are meant to do. Most of them are currently employed, but they are not necessarily happy or fulfilled in their jobs. They are just surviving week to week and collecting a paycheck, paying taxes and functioning in society. They are not really thriving, and don't feel they have "arrived" or reached any kind of great potential in their lives. I'm wondering, is this true for most Millenials? Or is it just the circle of young people I know? Are Millenials trying too hard to find greater meaning in work, instead of just doing jobs they're competent in and being content with that? I wonder what the answer is to it all.

The Desparity Between What You're Good At, Versus What Pays Well

So often, it seems that the areas of expertise many young people are good at, do not necessarily pay well. For example, I love writing and drawing, and doing anything artistic. But I was hesitant to major in art (and ended up not doing so) because I was afraid I would never actually be able to use an art degree to make any real money. Many friends I know are excellent artists, but struggle to make money in that field. Teaching can often be the same way. Some friends and family I know love to research things, shop at thrift stores to find rare gems to resell, and love to find new tasty restaurants to eat at. But how do you turn those hobbies into a well-paying job? There's not much money in owning an antique store these days, and not everyone can be a travel blogger or work on the Food Network as someone who eats out at new restaurants every week. Are people who are not good at math or science just destined to have lower-paying jobs and barely scrape by? And when people aren't good at math or science, is it because the school system failed them and those subjects were never taught well, or is it simply because their brains are wired toward the art/literature side and have no interest in these more lucrative areas of study? And why can't we, as a society, place more value on the arts so that people with these gifts can get paid a more livable wage?

Millenials Strive to Create Meaning... But Does This Lead to Discontentment?

I have read (and also experienced firsthand) that Millenials really strive to create meaning within their careers. They don't just want to punch a timecard and collect a check. They want to make a difference in the world, change society in a positive way, or create something beautiful that will leave people in awe. They want to have a sense of purpose and direction in their work, and be striving towards some sort of meaningful goal. But what if this longing for purpose in one's career is only creating a sense of dissatisfaction? What if a person is meant to fill a standard desk job in an office to pay the bills, and their meaning or purpose in life could be found in serving in their church, in volunteering in the community, or being present and a blessing to their family, all outside of the work setting? What if they were meant to do their artistic hobbies on the side, and not use them to provide their bread and butter? Could accepting this as truth possibly allow someone to find true contentment outside of work, and work could just serve the practical purpose it needs to?

Does School Really Prepare Us to Learn What We're Good At?

It really seems like the system is broken somehow. Going to school and getting good scores on tests, so you can get good grades, so you can get into a good college, only gets you so far. There are guidance counselors who are supposed to be able to show you what you're good at and might be able to turn into a career. But what if they don't have the answers? A guidance counselor is only human, after all. It seems like it would be more helpful if students had mentors who could come alongside and encourage them in the right direction. But unfortunately, not everyone has supportive parents, a mentor, or a teacher or coach who can recognize their potential and steer them in the right way. And even if someone does have those individuals in their life, it is not a guarantee that they will find contentment in their future job or career. It does seem like more needs to be done with students to help them get prepared for the "real world" while in high school though, so that they are not someday left with an expensive degree and an unfulfilling job that barely pays the rent. But what more can be done to help students see what they're good at, and also what can actually be turned into a lucrative career?

What About Asking God? Seeking Spiritual Guidance?

Of course I believe in seeking God for direction on all matters. In regards to a career choice, God can often seem silent. We know that His Word gives lots of guidance as to how we are to live. But as for a specific career path for each person, God is never going to put out a neon sign letting us know exactly what to do. If someone is discontent in their job, and longs to find more meaning in their work, could this be a sign that God is moving them on to something else? Perhaps. Does God promise to give wisdom to those who seek Him and ask for it? Yes, He does, so I believe seeking Him in this area is vital as well. But as for myself, I am in my early-thirties and am still figuring out my "career" path... for now it's mostly to be the best wife and mom I can be! Which brings me to my next point....

Is Meaning-Making Meant to Be a Lifelong Journey?

Perhaps making meaning and significance in one's life and career is meant to be a lifelong journey, not a one-stop destination. Maybe through a series of different jobs, one is able to discover their true passion and hone their skills that way. Perhaps we should take more joy in self-discovery along the way, and not be in such a rush to have everything figured out immediately. This approach, and buzz words like "journey" do seem to be Millenial-esque as well. However, I know individuals who are 50+ and still do not know what they want to do when they "grow up". Maybe that's okay. Perhaps we just live our lives, doing our best in all areas, seeking God through it all, and we stumble upon meaning and fulfillment along the way, instead of trying to pin it down. What are your thoughts?


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