Unless you left everyone and everything that you had ever known to start a new life in a foreign country, it is impossible to fully understand the sacrifices parents make when they immigrate to provide their children with all the opportunities an economically stable country can offer.
Many newcomers to Canada struggle to find fulfilling occupations, stunted by their lack of English communication skills and credentials that aren’t recognized in their new country. What drives them to keep moving forward? The hope that their children will be able to live enriching lives in their new home.
Why am I telling you this? As the child of first-generation Canadians, I have always tried to understand the sacrifices my parents made to give me better opportunities. My parents pushed me to pursue a career in medicine because this kind of opportunity was what brought them to Canada. To them, it was an in-demand occupation that would ensure professional and financial stability. That is why I’ve recited the belief that I wanted to be a doctor from a young age: it became an integral part of my identity.
However, when I finally asked myself, “Who am I, away from the career my parents want for me?” I realized that my dreams conflicted with the interests of the two people who have given me everything.
I had to ask myself: Is the grass really greener? Is this dissatisfaction temporary? Do my parents know what is best for me? It takes true self-reflection, bravery, and optimism to admit to yourself and your parents that you feel unfilled. Here is a guideline to finding your inner calling and being honest about what you really want!
Determine if you’re in a rut or dissatisfied overall
Following your passion is definitely easier said than done. Understandably, not everyone is able to do what they love; unforeseen events can arise and impact our daily outlook on life. That’s why it is important to continuously check in with yourself and ask: What makes me happy?
To answer this question, look at it at from a micro and macro level. Does cooking or hiking make you happy? Does making meaningful connections with people warm your heart? Do you really love spending time with your family? Make a list of all the things, activities, people and ideas that bring joy to your life– it could be the answer to your future career.
Similarly, keeping a checklist of what makes you unhappy can be equally beneficial. Does working with the public irk you? Do you hate working after hours? Do noisy children grind your gears?
Figuring out your likes and dislikes can go a long way in helping you understand what makes you unique as a professional.
What drives you and ignites your passion?
“Passion exists at the intersection of three or more things you’re really curious about.”
Passion and curiosity are such general terms, and it can be really hard to define what they mean to us as professionals and individuals. You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Are there any hobbies or favourite activities that bring you joy?
- What topics are you knowledgeable about?
- What do other people turn to you for? Are you known as an “expert” on something in your social circles?
- What topics draws your attention when you’re browsing the internet?
- What kind of websites do you keep coming back to?
- What do you want to learn more about? What fascinates you?
- What kind of society do you wish the world operated within? If you can change anything about the world, what would it be?
- What makes you unique?
Answering these questions can help kickstart your journey to understanding your passion. If you can, try thinking of more questions and chronicle your responses in a way that allows you to read and analyze them all at once. Your passion lies within your answers.
Do preliminary research on viable careers
After reflecting on your interests, researching is your next step. Look for viable careers that are related to your passions and investigate what you need to do to get into them. Here’s a starter list on the questions you should answer about possible professional pathways.
- What are the skills and qualifications required? How can you obtain them?
- What is the starting salary? Are you comfortable with this amount?
- What is the survivability of this market? Is it likely that this field will still have a lot of opportunities when you are ready to enter the workforce?
- Would you need to relocate? Are there specific geographic areas where this job is in higher demand?
- What could you bring to the table that others do not?
- How does this career align with your goals?
- What are the challenges and obstacles that must be overcome?
Remember– the more you research you do, the more certain you will be of your decision to change career paths.
Outline Plan A and B (Because we all need a backup)
So you’ve picked your new career path! Now what do you do?
Picture your ideal situation one year later. Where are you studying? Are you working? What kinds of activities are you taking part in? Once you note these details, backtrack to the present and outline what you need to do in order to accomplish them in real life. For example, if you want to be studying graphic design, apply for a local program. Once you break down your dream into clear steps, it’ll be much easier to make it a reality.
Outline everything you need to do to put yourself on the road to success. This is a practical guideline to help you stay focus on your short term and long term goals. First, ask yourself: Where do I see myself in a 1 year, 2 years, 4 years, and 8 years?
From here, divide the first year into monthly goals. What do you need to be doing in order to get to where you want to go? It is crucial that you are realistic; thus, create a backup plan in the event things don’t turn out as you expected.
Put Your Plan to Action
Begin putting your plan to action; however, start small. Realize if this is what you want (despite your parent’s disapproval), you may have to be your own biggest supporter. This may mean working part time jobs, freelancing, job shadowing, or seeking an academic advisor to become more confident in your decision.
What can you do to gain experience and legitimize your dedication? Now is the time to take action and make your dreams a reality.
Reveal your revelation, research, and plan to family members
It may seem like revealing your new career plans to your family this late into the process is going behind their backs, but major life revelations don’t happen overnight. In other words, it takes time to build courage to tell the ones you love your plan, and to be confident enough to not let them dissuade you from following your dreams.
Explain your passion and reassure them of your plan. This small step will reassure them about how serious you are about pursuing a new goal; share your research with them and patiently answer any inquiries they may have. Finally, you can showcase the work you have been putting in and the results of your effort; your planning and dedication will help convince them that you know what’s best for your life.
Set milestones and be prepared for setbacks
It can be difficult to see progress, or to not compare your progress with others. Remind yourself of your goals and ambitions. It can be emotionally draining to be rejected, especially when you’re first starting in your new field, but have perseverance! Set milestones and celebrate appropriately to encourage yourself to keep going. Think about why you decided to switch careers in the first place, and let that reason be your motivation.
One thing you should always keep in mind is that at no point are you locked in a field or career. There appears to be an imaginary deadline and time frame in which you can and cannot change your path, but that is simply not true. By avoiding comparison with others, you can move at your own pace. Sure, there will be different obligations and responsibilities when you change careers later in life, but it is never too late to choose happiness.
No matter what your loved ones think, this is your life; spend it knowing what you can do rather than asking yourself, “What if?”