The first step in any successful career decision is to reduce anxiety – something I’ve learned the hard way. One cannot think straight and cannot make an adaptive heavy decision like this while stressed out.
So… how does one do this in the face of the gigantic social and often familial pressures with choosing a career? Obviously exercise, breathing techniques, psychotherapy and a solid non-processed food diet can help, but lifestyle factors play a huge and under-discussed role as well.
In other words, organizing your life such that there isn’t a huge deadline or pressure to make a decision. Contrary to many things, having a hard deadline or tons of pressure does not help. Why? Because contrary to things like school work, choosing a vocation requires a sense of play and whimsical exploration. Pressure and its attendent anxiety are the very opposite of play, and induce little workmanlike industry. So it can be very useful in getting stuff done after you’ve chosen a direction, but is harmful to attempts to decide on that direction.
So what to do? Well what I have done that has been far more successful and progressive was to get a throwaway part time job I didn’t hate, and moved into a cheap place and lived simply enough that the job could support it. I enrolled part time in school so I could supplement my income with student loan refunds.
And I spent the rest of the time playing. Making friends, working on projects for their own sake, reading and exploring. And this was enjoyable and led me to a choice that I am happy with. In other words, both the process and the outcome were great.
What else could one wish for?