Making an informed decision about what you want to do in life, or what you want to be can be an onerous one. Young people have so many options it’s difficult to know what to choose and where to go for careers advice. But, although it might seem like an extra burden now - sooner rather than later you'll have to make up your mind.
Keep a lid on the pressure
There might be a lot of pressure coming from your parents or from your teachers, but that informed decision now will ensure that you can focus your efforts in one particular direction, which will in turn affect what further education or training courses you choose. However, if you don’t have a particular ‘calling’ try not to worry too much about this decision. What you choose now doesn’t have to affect the rest of your life. If you’re unsure of what to do, try and be level-headed. Choose a direction that is broad enough that leaves you with various options.
An individual approach
Your teachers will guide you according to your academic qualifications and abilities, but do they really know you? At home, your parents just want the best for you, and perhaps there's pressure to take over a family business or career. But, just because your Dad is a doctor, doesn't mean you necessarily want to follow the same path.
Striking out as an individual isn't easy but try and put yourself in as many situations where you are gathering new experiences and meeting people as you possibly can. The path most beaten is sometimes the easiest path to take but it’s not always the best option for you. Get creative, dare to be bold and have the confidence to follow what you believe in.
Take your time - give yourself as much time as you need to consider your chosen path - it's your future and you may be stuck with it for quite a while!
Have a good read of related articles and helpful websites. Take a look at Careers Box for example, a UK site full of useful tips and information on various career options. There might be some skills news or advice that you hadn't heard at home or at school - perhaps there are other options you hadn't even previously thought about.
Mind the gap
You might be feeling rail-roaded right now into making a decision too quickly. A gap year might be the best choice for you. But do use it constructively, pack it full of experiences where you to learn new things, ensure you get out of your comfort zone but be in environments that are nurturing. A bit of travel might broaden your horizons - perhaps you'll return with completely different ideas on what you want to do with your life? It's worth remembering that a positive and constructively used gap year is often good CV fodder. You'll return feeling more energized and motivated - and therefore in a better frame of mind for decision making about your next move.
Perhaps charity work or volunteering abroad is for you? Or working in a specific type of business, like a tech start-up? Or mixing outdoor pursuits and sport with teaching? Why not split your year in two or three sections – travelling, working and socially focused commitments?
Use the National Careers Helpine for Teenagers. It's set up to provide helpful information and advice about jobs, careers and training if you’re a teenager (13 or older) in England.
National Careers Service helpline
National Careers Service
Telephone: 0800 100 900
Text messages: 07766 413 219
Textphone: 0800 096 8336
Monday to Sunday, 8am to 10pm
Read all you can on different career moves. Become your own hunter/gatherer of information! Find out about funding, read up on job profiles and stock up on interview tips, CV hacks, and advice. Look around at the various college courses and see what suits you best. Whatever you eventually decide upon, you'll be well armed with the right knowledge.
Chat to your mates too, ask what they're doing and why. There are choices to make in Year 9, Year 11 and when you're 16+ - but it all comes down to you, and your future - so ensure that you make the right decisions now.
Found our careers advice for teenagers useful? For more tips and tricks, check out our guide to deciding on a career.