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25 and Don’t Know What Career You Want? Here’s What You Should Do

You’re 25 and you don’t know what career you want. It’s a common problem that many young people face as they hit the quarter-life crisis

You may have just graduated from college, or maybe you’ve been working in a job that you don’t enjoy. Whatever the situation, you’re feeling lost and unsure of what to do next.

First thing to know is you’re not alone. Many people go through this phase in their lives. It’s a time of transition and self-discovery. It’s a time to explore your passions and interests and find a career that aligns with them. It’s also a time to take risks and try new things.

In this article, we’ll explore some reasons you may be feeling lost at the age of 25 and some strategies for finding your career path. 

We’ll discuss ways to identify your strengths and interests, as well as ways to gain experience and explore different industries. We’ll also talk about the importance of networking and seeking guidance from mentors. 

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of how to get unstuck and navigate this challenging but exciting time in your life.

Reasons You May Feel Lost and Purposeless at 25

Feeling lost and purposeless at 25 can be a tough experience. You may feel like you are the only one who doesn’t know what they want, but it is a common experience that many people face. Below we have compiled the most common reasons why you may feel lost and purposeless at the age of 25.

Lack of Direction

At 25, you may not have a clear direction for your career or your life. You may have completed your education in your field of choice, but you are still unsure of what you want to do with your life

This lack of direction can leave you feeling empty and unmotivated. You may feel like you are just going with the flow, without any real sense of purpose.

Pressure to Succeed

There is a lot of pressure to succeed at 25. You may feel like you should have a well-paying job, a house, and a family by now. Your family certainly does. 

This pressure can make you feel overwhelmed and in a hurry to make all the important decisions before you feel ready. You may feel like you are not living up to the expectations of others and feel discouraged.

Fear of Failure

The fear of failure can be paralyzing. You may be hesitant to take risks or try new things because you are afraid of failing. After all, you are an adult now and are expected to start building your career. 

This fear of making the wrong decision can hold you back from pursuing your dreams and making professional progress.

Comparison to Others

It is easy to compare yourself to others, especially in the age of social media. You may see your peers reaching new heights and feel like you are falling behind. This comparison can leave you feeling inadequate and can contribute to feelings of being lost.

Lack of Self-Awareness

At 25, you may not have a clear understanding of who you are and what you want. This lack of self-awareness can make it difficult to make decisions about your career and your life. You may feel like there is nothing that can make you satisfied and happy.

In conclusion, feeling lost and purposeless at 25 is a common experience. It is important to recognize that you are not alone and that there are many reasons why you may be feeling this way. By taking the time to explore your interests and passions, you can begin to find direction and purpose in your life. More about this later in this article.

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Trying to figure out what career to pursue at 25
Photo by Christian Erfurt @ Unsplash

Why It’s Okay Not to Know What Career You Want at 25

It’s common to feel like you should have your career all figured out by the time you reach your mid-twenties. However, not everyone finds their niche this early. 

It’s important to remember that it’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life at 25. Here are a few reasons why:

You’re Still Learning About Yourself

At 25, you’re still in the process of figuring out who you are and what you want out of your life. It’s natural for your interests and passions to change as you grow and experience new things. 

Take your time to explore different fields and industries, and don’t be afraid to trying new things. You may discover a career path you have never considered before.

Career Paths Are Not Always Linear

Long gone are the days of staying with one company or in one field for your entire career. With the rise of the gig economy and remote work, there are more opportunities than ever before to switch careers or try something new. 

Don’t feel like you have to stick to one path for the rest of your life. Embrace the idea of a non-linear career path and be open to new opportunities.

It’s Okay to Take Your Time

There is no such thing as being too old to start a new career. It’s okay to take your time and explore different options. In fact, taking the time to figure out what you want to do can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying career in the long run. Don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out right now.

Remember, it’s okay to not have a clear direction for your career at 25. Take this time to explore your interests, try new things, and figure out what you want out of life. Your career path may not be linear, and that’s okay. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Is 25 Too Old to Start a New Career?

At 25, you might feel like you’re behind in terms of your career goals. You may even be questioning whether it’s too late to start over in a new field. The good news is that it’s never too late to pursue a new career.

In fact, many people change careers multiple times throughout their lives. Take me, for example. At the age of only 28, I have switched careers twice(!) already. I started out as a medical graduate at the age of 23 and worked at a hospital for a couple of years. 

Soon, I realized that I am not particularly comfortable working under high-stress, long-hour conditions, and was not very passionate about medicine any longer.

So, I decided to try myself in an old passion of mine – neuroscience. It was close enough to my primary field of education, so the transition was quite smooth – I did not need to pursue any additional education, only some on-the-job training.

After working at a neuroscience lab at a state university, I found out that scientific research is a very slow and deliberate process, which was contrary to my liking. I was always more interested in actionable work that delivers quick results.

As such, I decided to make the second career switch and transition into computer science, probably the earliest of my interests. I used to do programming work for myself ever since middle school and used to dream of becoming a software developer one day.

I applied and got accepted to one of the best Master’s in computer science programs for career changers and have been so happy about my decision ever since. 

As you can see, finding your true passion and a good professional fit takes time sometimes. What is important is being decisive and not afraid to take action when you see that a certain career or job is not working out for you.

According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs 12.4 times between the ages 18-54. That means you have more than enough time to explore different career paths and find one that’s right for you.

While it’s true that starting over in a new career can be challenging, it’s also an opportunity to find your true calling and career satisfaction.

It’s important to remember that age is just a number, and 25 is certainly not a very large number. So, if you’re considering a career change at 25, it’s an ideal time! Embrace the opportunity to explore new possibilities and find a career that brings you fulfillment and happiness.

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woman in red long sleeve shirt holding orange and white book
Photo by Sumeet B @ Unsplash

Self-Reflection: Understanding Your Interests and Strengths

Taking a Personality Test

When you’re feeling lost and unsure about your career path, it’s important to engage in some self-reflection. One great way to gain insight into your personality and potential career paths is by taking a personality test. 

There are many free tests available online, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Big Five Personality Traits. These tests can help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and preferences, even the ones you were unaware of. They also provide information about what careers would be best fit for you.

Identifying Your Passions

Another important step in finding a fulfilling career is identifying your passions. Think about the things that bring you joy and fulfillment. Do you have any hobbies or interests that you could turn into a career? What kind of work would you do even if you weren’t getting paid for it? Figuring out your interests and passions can help you find a career that aligns with your interests and values.

Assessing Your Strengths

Assessing your strengths is also crucial in finding your perfect career. What are you good at? What skills do you possess that you were always praised for by others? 

Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, and consider what careers they would be appropriate for. Knowing your strengths can help you find professional choices that would allow you to utilize and develop those skills.

In summary, taking a personality test, identifying your passions, and assessing your strengths are all important steps in understanding your interests and finding a career path that suits you. 

Start by doing some self-reflection, so you can gain valuable insight into yourself and your future career options.

Exploring Career Options

Now that you have (hopefully) done some self-reflection, you may want to explore your career options further. What do certain jobs entail? How does it feel to be a certain professional?

Here are a few strategies to help you explore your options:

Researching Different Career Paths

Start by researching different career paths that you already think may be a good fit for you. Look up job descriptions and requirements, and see if they align with your skills and interests. You can also take career aptitude tests or personality assessments we covered above to get a better sense of your strengths and preferences.

Networking and Informational Interviews

Networking can also be used effectively to find job opportunities and learn about different careers. Reach out to people in your desired field on LinkedIn and ask for informational interviews, where you can ask questions and learn more about their experiences. This can help you gain insight into what it’s really like to work in a particular profession.

Volunteering and Internships

Volunteering or doing internships in a field that interests you can be a great way to get a sense of what a particular career holds for you and also to gain hands-on experience. Doing this kind of work can help you figure out if a particular career is a good fit for you, and give you a better sense of what you want in a job.

Remember that finding the right career can take some time and effort. Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Keep your goals and priorities in mind, and stay open to new opportunities.

Making a Decision and Gaining Experience

Identifying Priorities

When searching for a suitable career, it’s important to start by identifying your priorities. What do you value the most in a job? Is it a high salary, work-life balance, the ability to work remotely, or a great team? Make a list of your top priorities and use it to guide your job search.

Assessing Work Environment

Another important factor to consider when choosing a career is the work environment. Do you prefer a fast-paced, high-pressure environment or a more relaxed atmosphere? Do you like working independently or as part of a team? Consider your personality (introversion vs. extroversion) and work style when assessing potential work environments.

Gaining Experience

One of the best ways to figure out what career you want is to gain experience in different fields. This can be in the form of internships, volunteering, or even working part-time in a job that interests you. It should help you get a better sense of what you enjoy and what you don’t.

When gaining experience, it’s important to keep your long-term goals in mind. If you’re interested in web development, for example, you might want to seek out opportunities to work on coding projects or build your own website. If you’re considering a career change, look for ways to gain experience in your desired field while still working in your current role.

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Finding your ideal career takes time and patience. Don’t be afraid to seek advice from mentors or career professionals, and do your research to learn more about potential careers and industries. By identifying your priorities, assessing work environments, and gaining experience, you’ll be able to find a career that brings you happiness and fulfillment.

Working on your career at 25
Photo by Alexis Brown @ Unsplash

Examples of Successful People Who Started Their Careers Later in Life

If you’re feeling like you’re behind in your career because you haven’t figured out what you want to do yet, don’t worry. Many successful people started their careers later in life, and you can too. Here are a few examples to inspire you:

Vera Wang

Vera Wang started her career in fashion at the age of 40. Before that, she was a figure skater and a journalist. She worked her way up from being an editor at Vogue to being a design director at Ralph Lauren. Then, she started her own bridal gown company called Vera Wang Bride, which has become one of the most successful in the world.

Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc was a milkshake machine salesman until he was 52 years old. That’s when he met the McDonald brothers and saw the potential in their fast-food restaurant. He bought the franchise rights from them and turned McDonald’s into the global empire it is today.

Julia Child

Julia Child didn’t start cooking until she was in her late 30s. She went to culinary school and then wrote the cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Her TV show, “The French Chef,” made her a household name and inspired a generation of home cooks.

Stan Lee

Stan Lee was a comic book writer and editor who co-created many of Marvel Comics’ most famous superheroes, including Spider-Man and the X-Men. He didn’t start working in comics until he was in his 40s.

Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his big break in acting until he was in his 40s. Before that, he had done some theater work and had small roles in movies, but he was struggling to make a living. Then, he got a role in “Jungle Fever,” which led to more and more opportunities.

Colonel Sanders

Colonel Sanders was a gas station owner who started cooking chicken on the side. He didn’t start franchising his recipe until he was in his 60s. Kentucky Fried Chicken became one of the most successful fast-food chains in the world.

These are just a few examples of successful people who started their careers later in life (much later than 25!). Don’t worry if you haven’t figured out what career you want at 25. You still have plenty of time to find your calling and get your dream job.

Conclusion

Not knowing what career you want can feel like the end of the world. It is easy to feel lost and unsure of what steps to take to relieve this uncertainty. However, it is important to remember that you are still so young and have all the time in the world to pursue your dreams. And pushing yourself ahead of the schedule will only discourage and hurt you.

One of the most important things you can do is to take the time to explore your interests and passions. Consider what makes you happy and what you are good at. This can help you identify potential career paths that align with your strengths and values.

You can also seek guidance from professionals in different fields you feel could be a good fit for you. Attend career fairs,  schedule informational interviews, and participate in networking events to learn more about different industries and job opportunities. You can also consider working with a career counselor or coach who can provide personalized guidance and support.

Remember that finding the right career path is a journey, and it may take time to figure out what you want to do. Be patient with yourself and stay open to new experiences and opportunities. You have all the time in the world to figure out what you want in life.