I be­lieve that the ma­jor­ity of young adults are not sure about study choice or ca­reer paths... This in­deed is a com­pli­cated stage of life

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • DR. MIKE GROPPER The writer is a mar­i­tal, child and adult cog­ni­tive-be­hav­ioral psy­chother­a­pist with of­fices in Jerusalem and Ra’anana.

Through­out the years of prac­tic­ing psy­chother­apy, I have treated many young adults in their 20s. Young peo­ple an­tic­i­pate that this decade should be fan­tas­tic. After all, you are at the be­gin­ning of adult life, free to make choices about ca­reer, re­la­tion­ships, friends, and travel around the world. In Is­rael, that free­dom be­gins only after oblig­a­tory army or na­tional ser­vice. Nev­er­the­less, once these re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are over, the free­dom and choice re­ally get go­ing.

Dur­ing child­hood and all through the high-school years, your par­ents, com­mu­nity, group af­fil­i­a­tions and per­sonal fac­tors in­flu­enced the di­rec­tion you took. You may have had some in­put in de­cid­ing your ed­u­ca­tional track and hob­bies, but truth be told, your in­flu­ence was min­i­mal. Most de­ci­sion-mak­ing was in the hands of the adults who took care of you.

The aver­age Is­raeli 20-some­thing per­son fi­nally gets to a stage where he/she be­gins to de­cide what to study and where

to learn after age 21. Some young peo­ple make their ca­reer choice at a young age and go after those goals. How­ever, I be­lieve that the ma­jor­ity of young adults are not sure about study choice or ca­reer paths.

This is in­deed a com­pli­cated stage of life. Be­sides try­ing to sort out a ca­reer track, there is also the chal­lenge to fig­ure out your so­cial and dat­ing life. Most so­cial psy­chol­o­gists find that this decade of the 20s is in­deed very stress­ful. It is far from be­ing a time in life where you feel set­tled. Keep in mind that this is a nor­mal and ex­pected part of life.

Be­low is some ad­vice I would like to give you.

1. Do not be up­set if you do not know what you want to

do with your life. This is the rule rather than the ex­cep­tion. The psy­cho­log­i­cal task dur­ing this stage of your life is to try to fig­ure things out. You may want to de­lay start­ing univer­sity or an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram. Per­haps get a job and just try to give your­self the time to fig­ure things out. Re­al­ize that while you may feel the pres­sure to get your life started, you can make the de­ci­sion to slow it down and give your­self the time you need to do the re­search and self-dis­cov­ery that may en­able you to make the right choice. Get in touch with your own unique skills, tal­ents and, most im­por­tantly, ar­eas of in­ter­ests that ex­cite you, your pas­sions.

2. Do your ca­reer search care­fully. What are you good at? What do you dream about? No one is per­fect or good at ev­ery­thing. Close your eyes and try to vi­su­al­ize your­self do­ing a cer­tain type of job. Talk about your ca­reer ideas with friends, par­ents, a teacher, rabbi or a ther­a­pist. Some of my clients have gone to vo­ca­tional coun­selors to get an eval­u­a­tion to help them make a ca­reer de­ci­sion. Read ar­ti­cles on­line about dif­fer­ent ca­reer tracks. Talk to peo­ple do­ing the job that you think you would like to pre­pare for.

3. Fol­low your dream. Let us say you de­cide that you want to be a po­lice of­fi­cer. One young man I know ac­tu­ally made this de­ci­sion. Hard work, mo­ti­va­tion and an op­por­tu­nity paid off for him. He loves his work, and he is great at his job. I point this out be­cause too of­ten young peo­ple feel pres­sured to go into cer­tain job sec­tors. For ex­am­ple, some young peo­ple see hi-tech jobs as high-pay­ing and pres­ti­gious, but may not feel the pas­sion to go into jobs in this area. Do not be afraid to choose your own ca­reer path. The beauty of young adult­hood is that you own it, it is your life; so after some care­ful ex­plo­ration and thought­ful pro­cesses, go after your dream. You will never re­gret this. The worst thing to do is to live some­one else’s dream. For in­stance, a son or daugh­ter chooses to study medicine be­cause his/her fa­ther is a physi­cian and all his/her sib­lings are study­ing medicine. I have seen un­happy pro­fes­sion­als who did not give them­selves the time to fig­ure out their per­sonal pas­sion.

4. Do not be afraid to change di­rec­tion. This is a vi­tal piece of ad­vice. In spite of the fact that you have com­pleted an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram and be­gun work­ing in a spe­cific field, you may be un­happy and may re­al­ize that this ca­reer is not for you. Do not panic. This hap­pens to many peo­ple, most typ­i­cally dur­ing midlife. How­ever, it can hap­pen to young adults also. Think things through care­fully and try to fig­ure it out. If you do want to change your ca­reer, do so. Peo­ple who do not pay at­ten­tion to their feel­ings about a cho­sen ca­reer path may pay the price later on in life.

The 20s are a time of both ex­cite­ment and chal­lenges, a time to take on adult re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and be­come in­de­pen­dent. How­ever, re­mem­ber that ca­reer con­fu­sion is also part of the pack­age and a nor­mal part of the process.


‘THE 20S are far from be­ing a time in life where you feel set­tled; keep in mind that this is nor­mal and ex­pected.’

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