by | Aug 12, 2022 | General | 0 comments

A lot of young people are confused and not sure what to do with their lives. Research is saying today’s young people are the most depressed generation with more frequent cases of mental health problems. I remember being in the same situation when I was 25, confused and not sure what to do. I may not have all the answers but I will share what worked and still works for me.

1. Find purpose: People describe purpose as many things, like mission in life, meaning, fulfilment, passion etc. The general idea is to discover work that appears like what you were born to do. I remember reading so many books to make sense of things. I will say, spend time figuring out, who you are, what gives you fulfilment and what you will spend your lifetime doing for work. Finding your purpose is the most important priority for all life. Work I have found to be probably the fullest expression of purpose outside your role in your family. If you don’t gain fulfilment, growth and financial stability from work, it will be difficult to be happy. Even if you claim to not want money, the reality of life is money gives you options and access to opportunities. Prioritise discovering yourself and what you think you should be doing with your life. It may not be one thing for the rest of your life but make an effort to live intentionally by at least finding a way to contribute to life. People find meaning when they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. Ultimately, I think we are here to help other people in one way or the other. Your biggest task is figuring out how to contribute at any given time.

2. Develop yourself: If you are stuck, one of the best ways to occupy your time is to learn something new. Knowledge is a superpower. Like money, it provides you with options that may never have crossed your mind or path. In my own life, I have found that major life or career leaps happened after an investment in knowledge. When I was 21, I made a flippant decision to study a masters in IT. That one decision changed my career trajectory. I didn’t even like IT at the time, I just knew that it was a sure means to an end and before I finished the course I landed a good job. My major career change after IT also happened after a course in Occupational Psychology at 28. Every major business leap seems to happen after an investment in training. Personal training and development courses and education is something I continuously invest in every year. I am currently running a Doctorate programme. Learning never ends. So back to you. Your Learning and development is an investment, not an expense. Developing skills and ensuring you have relevant skills will always keep you relevant and ahead.

3. Learn now: The only reason I separated this from the last point is because it I needed to emphasise the benefit of learning ASAP not tomorrow. It’s much harder to pursue training and education when you are older with more responsibilities. When people have families there are more challenges and demands on your time and financial resources. When you are young and without nuclear family responsibilities, your priority should be on developing yourself. Youth is a gift, when I see younger people now I admire their opportunity to lay a good foundation for their future. When you are young, without family responsibilities, it is the best time to make major investments in your life. If you’re female and plan to get married, the risk is higher. Without a supportive spouse, it will be more difficult. I honestly think it’s worth postponing marriage and family, unless of course you marry a very supportive spouse, and that will only be revealed in time so why risk it?

4. Find work: I see some young people taking mental health breaks and my response is this. We all need breaks sometimes to clarify our thoughts and recharge. Breaks should be spent doing things that help us rest if we have been stressed, or find clarity and purpose. Choosing to stay in bed is something every depressed person suffers, however it is important to note that it is not usually the best option as it can spiral into deeper levels of depression. A better approach is to engage in physical and mental activity even when you don’t feel like it. Unless the workplace is the cause of the mental strain, it is wise to keep active and keep working. Studies show that unemployed people are more depressed than people who work. Also, in keeping active, limit social media, it is a time waster if you aren’t making any money on it and for a lot of people, it just makes them feel worse. There are several studies linking social media to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide and negative influences. It’s important to protect your thoughts.

5. Forge relationships: Our purpose and fulfilment in life is not for our sake only. Everything of significance that will happen to you in life is likely to happen in conjunction with someone else. Opportunities happen through people and decisions concerning your life will be made by people. You will work for people and with people. Business is a team sport. You will serve people and be recognised by people. Our ability to nurture and forge good relationships will always be to our favour. Nothing of significance happens alone. Learn to value relationships and be a valued relationship. It’s a conscious action, another thing that shouldn’t be restricted to how you feel. Keep in touch and be in touch.

I hope this helps someone.

Adora Ikwuemesi

I write on Human Resources and Career Management

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