Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsIt can be really daunting to make your final decision on what you want to do with your future. My advice would be to consider all options. There is a right option out there for you but it might be that you need to take a little bit of time just to think everything through. Do some research, talk to people and get some careers advice, take some time for yourself. Just think about what environments you thrive in, what’s going to be best for you and what’s going to give you the future that you want. Take your time, don’t rush but feel confident in your decision when you do make one. So, where do you start?

Skip to 0 minutes and 40 secondsWell, the cornerstone of any good careers choice is self-reflection and self-awareness. You need to understand the kind of person that you are because without that kind of knowledge it can be very difficult to put yourself in the kind of environment where you’re going to thrive. So, before you get caught on job titles and different sectors, if you really haven’t got an idea yet, think about the kind of person you are. Think about the environments that you thrive in, at school, at college, outside of those environments, when are you happiest?

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsAre you the kind of person who really gets a buzz from being around other people, or are you the kind of person that enjoys problem solving, logistical puzzles, things like that. The evidence of what you’re good at is all around everything that you do, and we naturally lead into those kind of things. To provide an example, you may find that you’re the kind of person that gravitates to caring roles, you enjoy being around people, you enjoy being in groups. You find that within your friendship circle, that you’re the one that friends come to with any problems or if they need any advice or support. You might think nothing of that, but actually that can be a really important clue.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsThat might lead you to think about roles in health care, within education, you might think about being a social working, you might think about psychology, you might think about counselling, you might think about nursing, all these jobs, you might think about teaching, all these jobs are similar in that they provide care and support and advice for different people of different ages in different situations and if you’re the kind of person who has that strength, there is a whole range of career choice for you. Some people have a really clear idea of what their future holds and what they want to do.

Skip to 2 minutes and 8 secondsFor those people it’s all about trying to fill in the gaps, trying to do the research, trying to build the commercial awareness of the sector they’re interested in moving into. For other people, maybe they haven’t got a firm idea at all, maybe there’s not really much of an idea of the jobs that are out there or even what kind of area you’d like to work in. That can feel quite daunting. What I would say is that it’s ok to be like that. The fact that you’re open minded, gives you that ability to investigate every single option out there for you.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 secondsSo don’t be put off if you haven’t got a clear idea at the minute, but it is your responsibility to start addressing that, and you can do that in a number of different ways. It can be really difficult to make that final decision of which course you’re going to go on to study at higher education, particularly if you’ve got two or three subjects that you absolutely have a love and passion for. And the truth is, in that situation, there’s no right or wrong answer in some cases. All we can recommend is that you take the time to look at the options available to you at the end of each degree.

Skip to 3 minutes and 10 secondsIt might be that it leads to a specific job role, it might be that it leads to an entire sector. Think about the transferrable skills that you’ll gain within that degree – will you be able to take them to different places, will it put you into a position where you’re applying for the kind of jobs that you see yourself doing in future. Is it that some of those courses are linked more with a hobby that might be better keeping totally away from your career choice? Seeing a careers adviser is probably a good start because you’re not putting out to your friends or your parents and what you will get is an impartial view on what you want to do.

Skip to 3 minutes and 47 secondsSo don’t be afraid to come up with what you consider to be really radical, perhaps over-aspirational ideas. Make sure that you don’t put ideas off thinking that they’re ridiculous. Another important point about making decisions is that you are allowed to change your mind, and you can change your mind as often as you want.

Skip to 4 minutes and 9 secondsYou’re not talking about changing your mind every single day, but what we are talking about is if you decide to embark upon an apprenticeship, traineeship or higher education, why not explore all options, apply for all options, put them away when you get the decisions and then when the time comes, there’s nothing to stop you dismissing two or three other ideas and choosing the one that you’ve now decided upon. This is not a race against time, you’ve got to think that there are many people who, to arrive at their ideal career, it could take years.

Skip to 4 minutes and 48 secondsThe important thing is to actually make a great start, and that could be being in the general area to make the right move at the right time. In careers it can be really difficult to make a decision on what you want to do. We often talk about a ‘lightbulb moment’ which is when a lightbulb suddenly goes off and everything falls into place and we decide this is exactly what we want to do with our future. Some people are lucky enough to experience that, but others aren’t and it’s a bit more of a journey to get to that final destination.

Skip to 5 minutes and 16 secondsFor those who are still thinking really hard about your options, my advice is quite simple: do the technical things, get online, do some research, speak to people. If you can get some work experience in a sector that you have a vague interest in, or a passing interest, that can be really helpful to confirm or deny whether that’s something you want to consider in the future. Anything that helps you build an understanding of the sector is really, really great. But remember to listen to your own thoughts and feelings too. Often, the first sign that something’s not quite right will happen when we just feel a bit of a discomfort. Don’t tune that out – that can be really important.

Skip to 5 minutes and 52 secondsAnd remember that your personality is absolutely vital to this process. Be confident in your skills and your abilities, say yes to opportunity. If things are difficult, don’t close off options, say yes to things. It’s ok to go somewhere and realise it’s not for you. Putting an ‘X’ and ruling something out can sometimes be just as useful as finding something that we love and are passionate about. Keep going, keep positive and when that moment arrives you will know. Without a doubt, my top tip, regardless of your situation, is to be positive, enthusiastic and to have a great attitude whatever you do.

Skip to 6 minutes and 25 secondsIt’s a sure-fire way to be successful in any environment is by being that person that is friendly, open and says yes to opportunity. It’s a great idea to do an action plan, an action plan that’s smart, that’s realistic and it’s also aspirational. And within that action plan what you should do is a SWAT analysis – make a note of all your strengths, including your skills like communication, working in a team, being flexible; your qualities, like being punctual, being a positive thinker, being hard-working. And also, you need to think about opportunities that are available to you.

Skip to 7 minutes and 14 secondsWhat if you’ve got a plan for the future already, what if you think this is the job that I want to do, what can you be doing now to try and ensure that happens. Well my advice would be, set a date in the future when you envisage that plan coming together. When will you be in that particular job role? When you’ve set the date and that particular role out, work backwards, and go back in timeframe. So, for example, set a medium-term goal, so in 18 months to 2 years, where will you be? What will be a sign that you are successfully meeting that plan, what will you need to do to ensure it?

Skip to 7 minutes and 46 secondsThen go even shorter and think what can I do in the next week, month, 6 months at the longest, to make sure it helps me achieve my medium term goal, which in turn will help me achieve my long term goal? If you’re not too sure what you want to do and that long term goal is actually a bit daunting, start from the other side. Don’t worry about where you’re going to be in 5 years, think about what you can do in the next month to help give you a bit more understanding. And you might find that once you start making those small steps, you might find that the medium term and even long term goals become more apparent.

Skip to 8 minutes and 20 secondsYou should know what you’re strengths are, in terms of your skills, for example working in a team, do you like working in a team? Are you a great communicator? Are you flexible? Are you creative? Are you practical? Or are you caring? It’s also important to know about the qualities that you have. And again, your parents are great people to ask about your qualities because they’ve known you for many years. So qualities like being confident, qualities like hard-working, being positive thinking, and also having values is an important factor when you’re making your decision. Values, such as for a nurse, it’s important to have a value of wanting to make a difference to people’s lives, being compassionate and being caring.

Skip to 9 minutes and 18 secondsSo for example, if you wanted to be a cameraman, it’s extremely important to have skills in being practical, being technology aware, technology minded and often very dextrous. You have to be extremely patient because you could be doing a number of shoots in a day and they may not work out as well as you like on the first, second or third take. One of the most difficult things that you will come across from making decisions is often pressure from your peers and, sometimes, from careers teachers and occasionally from parents as well.

Skip to 10 minutes and 1 secondWhen that happens, it’s very important that you focus on the fact that it has to be your decision because, at the end of the day, you’re the person, if you’re going to go the vocational route, you’re the person that’s going to do all the practical elements of that vocation. If you go the academic route, you’re the person who’s going to have to sit very hard exams somewhere along the way. As you make these decisions, you’ll find there won’t be a shortage of people willing to try and help you and to offer advice and guidance and that can be really, really valuable support.

Skip to 10 minutes and 34 secondsTeachers, family members, friends, those around you can all give you some valuable insights into the future choices that you can make. My advice is though, remember that it’s you that’s the most important person in this process, it’s going to be you that’s turning up to that job every morning, getting out of bed to go to those university lectures, whatever it is that you decide to do. And, if you allow external influences to have too strong a role, it can push you into a decision that maybe, isn’t right for you. Always check everything.

Skip to 11 minutes and 3 secondsWhen you think you’re arriving at a decision, go back, revisit it and think is this what I want to do, do I feel 100% confident in my decision here. And once you’ve done that, you can feel a lot happier with the decision you’ve made.

Turning the spotlight on yourself

Making decisions can be challenging – especially when there’s a lot to choose from and you know whatever you decide could have a lasting impact.

Building on some of the points you may have noted from the previous step, we will now look at some practical steps you can take to really get to grips with your decision-making.

First, watch the video to hear more from the careers advisers, then read the article below.

So, how do you turn the spotlight on yourself?

We all approach decision-making in different ways, and this can be influenced by various factors such as our personality, how those around us make decisions, how confident we feel, how independent we are, our level of anxiety or the pressure we’re feeling, and the extent to which we may feel destiny plays a part in life.

Whatever approaches you use, here are some steps you can take to help you clarify what’s important to you and your future.

We’ve provided some resources in the download section below. You might want to print and use the ‘Turning the spotlight on yourself’ resource to get your thoughts and ideas down as you apply the steps below.

1. Where are you now?

This is a good starting point – it’s about you, so think carefully and identify the following:

  • What are you interested in? (This could be hobbies, activities, or subjects.)

  • What are your skills? (The sorts of things you’re good at.)

  • What do you value? (The things that are always important to you, that matter in your social and study life.)

  • What motivates you? (The things that get you enthusiastic, or move you to action and to get involved.)

2. Where do you want to get to?

You may have a clear picture of what you want to do next or what career you’re aiming for, or you may feel you haven’t got a clue yet. Chances are, you’re somewhere in between, so what ideas do you have?

  • Are there job roles or career areas you’re interested in?
  • Is there a subject you love?
  • Do you have hobbies or interests you’d like to take further?

3. How are you going to get there?

This is where you need to focus on what choices you have. You can consider and compare the post-18 options we’ve been looking at in light of the points you identify about yourself.

Have a look at the resources we’ve provided about each of the options – you can download them from the bottom of this page. When you’re familiar with what each option offers, you can compare them by asking the following questions:

  1. What do you feel the potential advantages and disadvantages would be for you? Look at the pros and cons of each.
  2. What is the potential impact of each option? Try to consider the impact each option would have for you short term (over the next year), medium term (the next five years), and longer term. Think about what it would mean for you.
  3. Which one do you most prefer? Try to rank the different options in order of preference – of most interest to least interest.

In the next step…

We will look at how you can research and refine your choices and where you can find the information you need.

It’s important to talk through your options and the choices your’re considering with parents/carers, teachers, and a careers adviser. If you’re at school or college, you may be able to speak with someone in their careers department. Alternatively, you could contact one of the national helplines that provide free impartial advice and guidance across the UK (contact details are in the resources in the download section below).

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This video is from the free online course:

Smart Choices: Broadening Your Horizons