Protecting Mental Health When Making Career Choices

  |   Blog

For many adolescents, the thought of choosing a career path induces stress and anxiety. The pressure can last for years as students move through their last years of high school and following without a clear path to a fulfilling career.

In past years, many high school leavers deferred the decision until after a gap year. But with overseas travel not available, the gap year isn’t as enticing and career seekers are bringing forward career choices.

Why Decisions on Career Choice are Stressful

Everyone has a unique experience in deciding their career. For some, it’s a simple decision. From an early age they knew what career path they would take, but for others they have no idea and struggle with the decision for years.

Career Choice is a Life Decision

Young people realise the importance of this life decision. The career path they choose will most likely shape their future. They see the downsides to making a bad career decision could include:

  • Incurring university course fees for a degree they don’t finish
  • Feeling trapped in a job they don’t enjoy
  • Future financial commitments making it hard to change careers
  • Not enough income for the lifestyle they want

But it’s important for students to realise that they aren’t locked into their first career choice. Just because one or both parents have notched up decades working in the same industry, doesn’t mean their children will do the same. It’s estimated that today’s young workers will make five to seven career changes during their working life. People change careers for a variety of reasons including redundancy, boredom, stress, job insecurity, and lack of employer appreciation.

Subject Choice

Some students feel they haven’t chosen the right subjects for the university courses they’re considering. They might worry they won’t gain the score they need to get into the course or they will be behind other course participants who made different subject choices at school. For many students, the anxiety starts with choosing the ‘right’ subjects at school, followed by the stress of making career decisions. School subject choice rarely limits career choice, but it still contributes to the anxiety of some students.

Others Influence their Choice

Career seekers can feel pressure from family members, career counsellors and friends to choose a certain career path. Parents can often have the most influence on their children’s early career decisions.

They may worry that if their child doesn’t choose a career, they might waste a year or two after they leave school with no direction. Some parents don’t want their kids to make the same mistakes they did and choose a career they feel isn’t rewarding, doesn’t pay enough or won’t be around as technologies improve.

Alternatively, some parents want their children to follow in their footsteps and do the same job or take over the family business. Some children are influenced by their parents but regret it later because it wasn’t the right career choice for them. The real or perceived pressure a parent places on their child’s choice can cause angst and confusion.

Lack of Confidence in their Decision 

Some students feel anxious long after they make their career decision. They know it’s a big decision, so they second guess if they’ve made the right one. Often they decide with no ‘science’ or evidence that it’s the right career for them. They can live with the uncertainty for years until they eventually switch or start work, which can cause long-term stress and anxiety.

Career Planning Software can Help

For overwhelmed and undecided career seekers, career planning software can be the helping hand they need. The software doesn’t consider outside influences, it’s matching career seekers with career options based on their skills and interests.

Career Voyage is designed for career seekers over the age of 15 to find the industries that match based on critical personal and essential job-related factors. The program takes them to the next stage of their career journey by generating occupational interest profiles and 20 career suggestions ranked in order of suitability. Students use their personalised information to concentrate their research efforts on courses and jobs that they’re most suited. Choosing a career from the list often provides reassurance that it’s a suitable match.

If you would like to know more about Career Voyage, call (08) 9440 5333 or contact us online.