Last year a 15-year-old wrote to Leo Babauta.
‘As a high-school student I’m constantly being reminded to figure out what to do with my life, what career I would like to have and so on. I definitely feel huge amounts of pressure when my teachers and parents tell me to figure out something now. I’m young and I don’t want to make a mistake and ruin my future. I know what I like and what my interests are but when I read about a job related to those interests I always feel as if I wouldn’t enjoy it and I don’t know why.’
Leo wrote back:
Prepare yourself by learning about your mind, becoming trustworthy, building things, overcoming procrastination, getting good at discomfort and uncertainty.
You can put all this off and live a life of safety and boringness. Or you can start today, and see what life has to offer you.Leo
Recently, Bhavana and I have put pressure on our 16 year-old son, Shaan, to figure out his life. He's only a year from graduating high school and big decisions are looming. Bhavana is concerned (fearful?) by his lack of concern.
I think we have forgotten what it was like when we were sixteen. I think my Bhavana may have been more driven to get somewhere but at sixteen I was more interested in computers, electronics, science, and hanging out on the beach. My pursuit of the knowledge of science wasn't driven by any specific career aspirations. They were driven by the love of the science and knowledge itself.
Leo had an answer for this young woman on what to tell her parents and I shared his response and the entire article with both of my kids.
Lastly, what do you do when your parents and teachers pressure you to figure things out? Tell them you’re going to be an entrepreneur, start your own business, and take over the world. If you prepare for that, you’ll actually be prepared for any career.
Wise words. Wise words, indeed.