Feature Friday: How Do You Follow Your Dreams?
I've been asked a lot by high school students and undergrads how they can become successful in life. I think that the trick is figuring out what success means to you!
Who Are You?
First, it's important to really know who you are, be honest about who you are, and know that you will change who you are as you grow - so constantly check in with yourself!
I know that I am someone who wants to make sure I can be there for my friends. In the drop of a hat, I want to be able to fly to wherever they are and support them if they need me. I'm also someone who wants to have a healthy relationship and wants to make that relationship at least 50% of my young adult life, more as I get older. I am someone who likes to have options and likes to have multiple projects going on at the same time. I'm someone who enjoys traveling, but doesn't want to ever have to. I love my kittens and my puppy, and I love days where I just get to lay around with them in the backyard or watching Netflix. I'm someone who likes to dress up, but also loves to be comfortable. I like to watch TV and movies, read books, and be creative (writing or coding). I like working with others, but also love helping others do amazing things on their own.
What Are Your Personal Goals?
Second, it's important to acknowledge what your personal goals are. If you're personal goals are to have a large home near the beach, then you might need to go after a career that pays well. If your personal goals are to travel light and see the world, then you need a career that allows you to travel, but doesn't necessarily have to pay a lot.
I want to have a nice, comfy home. One that I own and don't have to check in with someone if I want to paint a wall. I want to have the option to have children, and if that happens I want to have the option to stay home with them. I like to be the person in charge of finances and family plans, but also don't want to have that stress me out too much. I like having nice things, but I don't need things to be happy. Overall, I want to live in a place where it's my own, it's surrounded by nature, and I can have friends and family over whenever they need.
What Are Your Professional Goals?
Third, you need to have goals in your profession that are constantly challenging you.
I want to be able to help teachers teach computer science, integrate computer science into other subjects, or integrate technology into their classrooms. Whether that means creating lesson plans, becoming a pre-service or in-service professor, or designing software to support that. I want to do it.
Constantly Check In
As you start to make decisions for your future: What classes to take in high school, what college to go to, what classes to take in college and what major to major in. Whether to go to grad school, whether you should seek an internship, whether you should join that student org. Anything really. You should always check in with who you are, what your personal goals are and what your professional goals are. Even if you have already made a decision, and you are sticking with it, it's worth checking in with yourself to make sure things haven't drastically changed.
Sometimes It's Hard - Keep At It
Sometimes, to get to where you want to be, you have to do something you don't want to do. That is life! If you want to be a doctor that does medical research to discover the next miracle medicine to help Asthma (something I was interested in at a time in my life), you might have to focus heavily on school for high school, undergrad, AND medical school, learn a lot, get good grades, and have good internships that give you that edge up. Not all of that will be fun, and not all of that will be aligned with your personal goals, but you have to decide if the sacrifice of a personal goal is worth achieving a professional goal - And Vice Versa!