7 Tips for Finding Out What to Study
Every Summer a puzzled graduate is tasked with deciding what to study. What is it they really like? How do they hear their inner voice between the abundance of advice and internal turmoil? We talked to our college psychology lecturer Lolita Kuginienė and asked her to share some tips for finding a field of study or even a future profession.
Take some time to get to know yourself
When choosing what to study, it is often heard that the prestige of the profession, viability, possibility to earn, etc. are dominant. These aspects are important, but according to Lolita Kuginienė, it is self-knowledge that serves as basis for choosing a future profession. Ask yourself the following questions: what talents do you have? What can you do better than the others? What can you do with ease and no effort? What should you do when you are completely immersed and lose sense of time? These questions help calm down your head and make you realize where all of the most important answers lie. You also need to think about your experience. Remember what you are good at and what makes you unlucky and nervous. What makes other people praise you? It may be because of your grealy arranged birthday parties or your English language that you seem to be learning effortlessly. It is the compliments of others that usually suggest what kind of activities we should do and where to deepen our knowledge, because often we do not notice what is good for us, we take it for granted. It may seem to us that others are successful in this activity, but that is not the case. “Think about what skills you can use to make your old desires come true. Once you figure it out, use your experience and move towards that direction. Everything depends on the person”, – noted the lecturer of Vilnius Business College.
If you can’t figure out your talent, think about what gives you the most joy
Those who did well in school in all subjects also have difficulties in choosing a future profession. On the side, it seems that such people can choose anything, but for many this choice raises many questions and doubts. On the contrary – average students who do not find themselves inclined towards a certain subject may enter a circle of doubts. How do you get out of it? Psychology lecturer Lolita Kuginienė once again advises to use these questions to help yourself. One of the most important – what activities caused you greatest joy and satisfaction in your life? What do you enjoy doing the most? The lecturer observes: “These are each person’s guidelines to make sure you’re on track. Ask yourself this not only when choosing what to study, but get used to doing it on a regular basis. It will help you in understanding yourself and your needs and opportunities better, to notice changes and also gradually shift the direction of of your activities. After all, you do not need an impressive career or incredible achievements in your life. When we do something that gives us most joy in life and allows to be ourselves, we are happy”. Another question that is worth asking yourself: what activity would you pick if you knew that you would succeed? Relax, let yourself enjoy the freedom to fantasize, delve deeper into these imaginations. It is quite likely that you will understand that it is not the lack of talent that prevents you from making a decision, but rather your limited beliefs. It is worth asking yourself, what would you do if you got paid equally well for all the jobs? Or what kind of work would you do for free because you love it so much?
Choose what to do in life according to your wishes instead of being misled by lack of self-confidence
One of the most common obstacles when choosing a study programme are lack of self-confidence and doubts about one’s abilities. If you know what you want to learn, but you hesitate to make the final decision, bring attention to what is behind the lack of self-confidence. According to Ms. Kuginienė, „from childhood we are taught to behave with caution, not to interfere, not to take risks, not to act. We hear teachings like „be realistic, because you will be disappointed in your dreams“, „finish university, otherwise you will not get a well-paid job“, „I understand that you like it (say, playing computer games), but you won‘t get food from it“. „These kinds of lessons are based on fear. They form a negative attitude towards life, which is an obstacle to experiencing the fullness of it. Do you want to live with these unjustified fears?“ The way out of those situations is courage. Ask yourself some courageous questions, use perseverance to search for answers. Let intuition be your guide. There is courage within each person. „Ask yourself: do you really want it or are you more afraid of it? If you are not afraid, what would you choose? Will you be sorry if in case you choose option A instead of option B? What should you do if your greatest fear comes true? „Remember, when you decide, it is very important to stick with your choice. Do not go back to doubts or new considerations. Instead, use all of your energy to execute your choice in the best possible way“, – says the lecturer at Vilnius Business College.
Your self-esteem is up to you and no one else
It was difficult learning at school, the grades were mediocre, the teachers said that passing the exams would end up in failure – these are the kind of thoughts that you thought about and even fully believed in them, which raises the question of whether you would even be able to study and get a diploma at all. Is it actually worth stopping somewhere? If that appears to be your situation, bring attention to what your self-esteem is based on: confidence or trust in other people‘s assessments? „Many people associate themselves with others. You want others to like you, to be recognized and loved. In cases like these, every step you take in pursuit of your needs is an existential test. What if the other person doesn‘t like what you do? What if we get into a fight? It is important to realize that you will not please everyone. Therefore, if you associate self-esteem with others, you do not allow yourself to live independently, „explains Ms. Kuginienė.
She presents 4 ways that lead to positive self-esteem:
- The value of a person is an abstraction. It does not exist. If you drop the value, the inferiority will disappear.
- All people are equally valuable. Young and old, those who work and those who are retired, cleaners and professors, women and men.
- You will lose your self-esteem if you constantly beat yourself up with irrational thoughts. Whenever you think less about it, you feel both valuable and happy.
- Treat yourself like you treat your best friend. Praise yourself, pay attention to yourself, love yourself.
If loved ones do not approve of your decision, learn how to say a clear no
If you have decided on what you want to learn, but your decision is not appreciated as much by parents or other people who are important to you, remember that fighting back, defending yourself aggressively, or running away is not the right thing to do in such a situation. Your perseverance and respectful communication will help you. You have the right to take care of yourself and your wishes. Therefore, if you are still struggling to say no today, you can learn to do it while maintaining a relationship with people close to you:
- listen carefully to each other, try to not interrupt;
- say no as simply as you can; don’t try to explain or argue why you decided to say it, because it will sound more like a justification that can cause unwanted pressure for both you and the other person;
- however, if you want to explain it, try to be brief; the most important thing is that you feel comfortable about how much you explain;
- never say “maybe”, “we will see”, etc., as this may give other person hollow expectations and hopes;
- be firm (not defensive or disrespectful) and polite at the same time; the person in question must understand that your answer is final and it will not change your opinion
Replace the fear of making mistakes with letting yourself try more
Fear of making a mistake when choosing a direction to study often acts as a brake. You may think that you have to choose right away, because if you do not, it will seem like a waste of time. How do you make a decision not out of fear? Any action involves a set of risks, so let yourself try. Act with courage, not fear. Change your outlook towards failure. This is a life lesson where you grow more than anything else. “Failure is the beginning of success,” – says the psychology lecturer.
“Gap year” is a good decision to get some time for yourself
The so called ‘gap year’, where after graduation students choose to travel instead of studying, earn money, spend time on themselves, according to the psychology lecturer, is a great solution for those who cannot find an answer for what to do in life after graduating. This way, it helps to get out of the normal everyday pattern of life in society and find a new way of life that suits you best: “It is better to do what you really want and not be disappointed than living a foreign life and constantly regretting missed opportunities!” – believes Lolita Kuginienė.