TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What are the first few steps to figuring out what to do with your life when the choices are so vast?

For many the hardest mystery to solve is figuring out who you are, what your passionate about and then how you want to share that with the world generally through the career you choose.

It is so difficult in fact, that many people never figure out what they really want to do with their life. The conundrum of figuring out one's inner self and true passions can be confusing enough but add a myriad of career choices or life paths to the mix and a young college student has quite a dilemma on their hands. “One effect of all this choice,” Barry Schwartz sites in his TED talk on the Paradox of Choices, “is that it produces paralysis, rather than liberation." This means that smart, intelligent people could be paralyzed into defaulting into a career field they don’t care much for after all, end up with multiple degrees and a mound of debt or no degree at all because it was all too overwhelming and they never chose.

How should someone figure out what to do with their life? Are there rules of thumb, do you just pick and hope for the best or do you systematically come up with a plan? If you can't decide what do you do? Should you look at your personality, preferences, strengths and weaknesses and figure out the sum? And shoot, in this economy is a degree even worth it? What about other options? How does intuition or our gut play into our decision? What is the best advice we currently have to help individuals figure it out for themselves? How did YOU decide on what you wanted to do with your life?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 9 2012: The more yout think the more are the chances of getting confused. The answer to the questions you have raisd be summed up in just two words i.e. 'Be Foccused'..... once you know what you want there is nothing which can confuse.

    You may have noticed that typically when we go to big malls where umpteen choices are there wihch leaves one confused. If the choice is more focused things can be dealt with more easily
    • Jan 18 2012: I agree focus is paramount... (and I am being the devil's advocate here..) but how does one focus? It is easy once you know what you want to do with your life to formulate pragmatic steps to reach your goal - but what does it take to get that focus.. I am just curious if you have any thoughts on concrete steps to figuring out how to focus so I can decide on what to do with my life or maybe concrete steps are just not possible.. maybe life is too abstract and it just comes down to what Adam said above ... you just have to have experiences that help you figure out what you like and don't like... I just find the conundrum of trying to figure out what to do with one's life fascinating and so just curious to push the conversation further if you have any other comments... thanks so much for your thoughts!!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.