Created on 19 October 2021

It’s okay not to know what you want to do

Reflections on my journey (thoughts from one of the HeadsUp team)

From the age of about twelve I knew I wanted to join the Army as an officer. At the age of nineteen I set off to university where I joined the TA and had a great time up- right up until the point where I realised that the Army really wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had no idea what I did want to do, but now knew the Army was not “it”.

As I left university I was juggling conflicting ideas about my future and found myself taking jobs because I thought they were The Right Thing To Do. Would my parents approve?

There’s no need to apologise

I talk to lots of people who are apologetic about not knowing what they want to do. Often we see and hear stories in the media of exceptionally driven people who single-mindedly pursue success in a given field from an early age: footballers, doctors, millionaire inventors. We hear fewer stories about the vast majority of people who don’t pursue “A Plan”, in part because this is the norm. It is fine to not have A Plan: The World is a big and exciting place, so why restrict your aspirations from an early age? You might have had A Plan, but something has got in the way- injury or illness, or even a change of heart (as in my case). You may have successfully followed A Plan only to find technology or “restructuring” have made your position redundant.

Asking questions is good

It’s natural to question things, to be uncertain. Things change and the concrete realities of even ten years ago were very quickly shown to be short-lived. However unsure you are about what you want to do- or what you can do- you will have skills and talents which are valuable. Talking to others can help you navigate what remains a world filled with opportunity- even if we don’t yet know what those opportunities are. Humankind has been built on the skills and talents of people like you: it is unlikely that the wheel was invented by someone who decided at the age of ten that a couple of upright circles would be really handy for moving things; and I refuse to believe that anyone truly set out in life to “invent” reality TV. Whole continents have been discovered by people who were looking for something else.

So be kind to yourself. If you don’t know what you want to do you’re not lost- you’re finding your way.


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