job dilemmaOne day, in eleventh grade, the school guidance counselor called me down to his office. I was happy for the opportunity to get out of class, though I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to talk about. My grades were mediocre; higher in the arts and humanities, lower in science and math – nothing out of the ordinary for me. Maybe I was on the borderline of failing one or two, but I usually managed to sneak by.

What are your plans?

As I sat across from him, he asked me what my plans were for the future. He likely even suggested college or university; though I couldn’t tell you, because I don’t remember. His words didn’t impact me at all. Not that it was his fault, I simply didn’t want to hear it.

That conversation was it for me. It was the one and only conversation that anyone had with me about my future. Because the truth is this: Not everyone has a team supporting them through school. Not everyone has someone pushing them to do better, do their homework and help them through it. Not everyone has built in resilience. I certainly didn’t. And I don’t blame my parents, because it wasn’t them. I just had my own idea of what education should be.

I was a different kind of kid. The kind that preferred being home and reading. The kind that found a topic and studied it on my own until I had mastered it. So no, I didn’t go to university or college, but I had skills that were quite useful in the ‘real world’.

No surprise, instead of going to post-secondary, I got a job right away. A good job in the corporate world. A job that gave me the responsibility I yearned for.

But it goes against the grain, doesn’t it?

And it begs the question, in today’s shifting landscape, is there a right or wrong way to do things post-high school? I look around at my Millennial peers and many of them are highly educated, and can’t find work. I haven’t had a problem finding decent jobs where I live, and online, but mostly, I’ve created my own. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and it’s served me well thus far.

Fast forward to today. I’m thirty two. I have three kids, two of whom will be teenagers in the next five years. So, I’m looking ahead. I’m wondering, what’s next? Because at some point, let’s say, when I’m forty, I’ll be competing with my traditionally educated peers for positions of leadership, I assume. But can I even compete? Without a degree, despite the years and years spent building my leadership skills, will I even be a contender?

What should I do?

Go back to university and get my undergraduate degree? Because let’s be honest, an undergrad degree is as required as a high school diploma is these days. Take another route of certification, like financial planning and build on that? Or should I take a leap and focus on more entrepreneurial endeavours? It’s risky, but could be worth it.

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself for some time. And I’ve made a decision.

My career next step.

For now, I’ve decided to reactivate my university acceptance and head back part-time over the next year. I want options, that’s the bottom line. By working toward a degree, I believe I’m opening my options up. In the meantime, I’ll continue to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors – like launching an outdoor night market – to build on ‘real life’ business skills that are truly invaluable.

But my own experience isn’t unique, and it’s made me wonder: Where are we headed when it comes to jobs? We’re beginning to understand as a society that we need to diversify ourselves more now than ever. But how do we decide a path when the choices are all decent, but none have guarantees?

How to sift through your career path options.

Today I’m sharing a few tips on how to figure out your “next step” on your leadership journey when the choices are overwhelming.

1. Find your dream job.

What degrees and experience is required? How long will it take you to get there? What sacrifices are you willing to make or not make to get the job? Are you willing to relocate? Imagine yourself in that job, is it something you could REALLY see yourself doing? Spend some time answering these questions.

2. Explore all paths.

Are there multiple paths you can take to get the experience? Is there a better way you can do things? We tend to think of paths as a linear experience, but they don’t have to be. Maybe there is another way?

3. Take some time.

Don’t make a rash decision. Spend some quiet time thinking it through. Don’t let your decision be made out of fear. Rather, it should be careful and deliberate. Don’t feel the invisible pressure of competition. We each have very unique paths we take in life, and they are all valid.

What are your thoughts about the shifting landscape of the job market? How can we best diversify and prepare? Is university or college mandatory? Share below!