Was that Major Your Choice?

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Apr 18, 2011 in , , | No Comments

It seems like a simple question, but the answer may be complicated.

A large number of people go through life living what they think they want, often finding what they are doing is not really what they want. Society’s standards, parental hopes, peer pressure–even the media–can push and prod us into a college major, career field, or lifestyle we later discover is not what we would have chosen had we taken the time to ask “What do I really want?”

“Modern man lives under the illusion that he knows what he wants, while he actually wants what he is supposed to want.”–Eric Fromm [This statement also applies to women!]

Your Idea of Success

With the influence of society shaping our childhood, personal ideas of success are formed by what is seen. If society teaches that success means making a six figure income, then more often than not, we internalize that message. When parents value graduating from the best college money can buy as their idea of success, it in turn becomes their child’s idea of success too. And let’s not forget how media (T.V., internet, movies) have influenced us in more ways than we care to count. At a later point in life, people influenced in these ways go through a “life crisis”, only then might they reevaluate what they’ve been doing. Their choice? Either make a change, or stick with the status quo.

Granted, there are free-thinking individuals who look at what society, parents, media and peers deem successful, then create another definition for themselves. These are usually individuals who are happiest, since they’ve chosen their own definition of what success means to them personally.

Exercise #1: Do you feel your college major and job field choices were actually your personal choice?

Find What You Want

Once you’ve figured out whether your wants are from deep within you, or simply from the pressure you’ve received from your environment, then you’ll have the freedom to know what you truly want. Pursuing your genuine interests, without the constraints of the conditioning you’ve previously received, allows for a more honest, fulfilling and happy life. And isn’t that what we all truly want?

I interviewed a person years ago who discovered she was in a career her parents actually chose for her. In mid-life, she decided to do what she wanted, prompting her to take a new path in life. Women, more so than men, fall into a trap whereby others wants take first place over their own. Breaking free from this mindset is necessary to uncover personal dreams. This isn’t easy, but nothing that is worthwhile is ever easy, is it?

Exercise #2: If time and money were no object, what would you be majoring in, or where would you be working?

It Takes Soul-Searching

Soul-searching–basically taking time with you and only you–to discover and unlock deep wants takes effort. Carving out free, unhurried moments will allow for the necessary space to discover the answer within. Yes, it is there, I promise! You’ll most likely have to dig a bit, through all the accumulated wants of others, but what you really want is waiting. Think of it as a treasure hunt, this is one of the most incredible treasures you’ll uncover!

Those who come from abuse in their childhoods discover it is especially difficult to answer the question, “What do you want?” This is because no adult asked them what they wanted as children, however adult wants were harshly imposed on to them. If you come from a childhood of abuse, do start to understand what you want is important and needs to be valued. As an adult now, it’s your right to know what you want, taking measures to pursue it. If stuck, investing in a good counselor to discuss how to move past the block is money well spent.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.” -Thoreau

Exercise #3: What things (not work or school related) have you always dreamed of doing?

Curse or Blessing?

If you’re unemployed, you’ll find Father Time hands you a silver platter filled with blank minutes, hours and days. How you fill them is entirely up to you. It can be a curse…or a blessing. But if quality of life is on your “want list”, here are a few negative time wasting things you don’t want to do:

Watching hours of T.V.

Getting drunk or stoned (”partying”)

Eating a lot of junk foods

Shopping till you drop

Spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need


Viewing porn

Spending hours on social sites (not networking)

Texting/talking on the phone for hours

If you’ve created your list of solid wants, making those become realities takes valuable time. You won’t accomplish much doing any of the above mentioned time wasters. Yes, it’s easy when you are unemployed to fall into a routine of being unproductive, discouraged, depressed and angry. Sooner or later–hopefully sooner–you’ll grow tired of that negative routine. You have to make what you really want happen. Let unemployment be a blessing, not a curse.

No Fairy Godmother or Do Overs

Unfortunately, there are no “do overs”, so if you waste Father Time’s gift on the above list, it’s gone forever. Don’t look for a Fairy Godmother holding a glistening wand to appear magically in your dorm room, waiting to grant all of your fondest wishes. She exists only in Disney movies. And wasn’t it in a Disney movie that we first heard, “a dream is a wish your heart makes”? Be your own Fairy Godmother, make your dreams come true!

A new day dawns every morning, offering more minutes and hours. Turn off the T.V., shut off the cell phone, close the laptop, and put a lock on the refrigerator.  What do you want?

“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it however.” –Richard Bach