• Amba Brown

Finished high school & still don’t know what to do?

Updated: May 20, 2019

You’ve just finished high school, and despite all your efforts and hours of thinking about what you’ll do next - you still have no idea? You’re not the only one. Today, most students don’t know what they’ll do when finishing school.


So what’s my advice for these school-leavers?

Firstly, this is an exciting place to be. I understand this is easy to say with hindsight. After all, when I finished school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I was terribly anxious and thought there was something wrong with me.

Today on the other hand, I’m extremely glad that I didn’t pigeonhole myself into picking one career, just because I thought I should. Once I let go of the belief that there was nothing wrong with me for not deciding on a single job, the anxiety subsided and I was free to explore different options I never new existed, including investigations, consulting, writing and working with the government.

Remaining open and deciding on opportunities as they presented themselves has resulted in a path full of diversity.

Secondly, know that it’s normal not to know.

While some will find their passion early in life and commit to it through to the end. Many chop and change, never attaching to one thing. Recent research conducted by The Foundation for Young Australian’s (2015) found that young people will have 17 jobs over five careers within their lifetime. This changing workforce requires a new approach for graduates considering their future.

While no one is the same, the one thing we all have in common is when we finish school we must decide what our first step will be.

So, how can you make this decision?

Although there is no one blanket answer, the field of positive psychology provides a great starting place for understanding the scientifically proven factors we must consider when searching for a fulfilled life.

The Father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman has conducted extensive research into how we can best create a life of optimal wellbeing and happiness.

Using Seligman’s PERMA model, which includes the five elements of well being proven to help students flourish, we can best make our choices.

These elements include; positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.

The emphasis therefore should not be on the question “What will you do after school?” but rather on answering the five questions we can derive from his model?

While keeping in mind the words of Nelson Mandela, “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears”.

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