Dear Harlan: I’m in college and still haven’t figured things out. I’m an undecided major. Every time I make a decision, I end up doubting myself, or my parents will tell me it’s too competitive or not the best choice. How did you make this decision? — Undecided
Dear Undecided: I followed my instincts. I wasn’t reckless; I was thoughtful. I surrounded myself with people who did the things I wanted to do. I didn’t spend time being scared or overthinking things. Instead, I spent time focusing on what I needed to do. I didn’t worry what other people were doing. I focused on being the best at my job. I was patient. I took time to struggle, fail and figure out what I loved – and didn’t love. I didn’t make a lot of money; I invested in myself. Being patient was – and still is – the hardest part. I want results NOW. But success isn’t a destination; it’s a process paved with patience. I always knew that I would be OK. That’s key. The best way to figure out what you want is to do something. Find one thing you love to do. It can be helping, creating, learning, teaching, building, selling, sweating or whatever you can get lost in while doing. Find people who are great at doing the same thing. Find people who have made a great living doing it. Find people who reflect your definition of success. Surround yourself with them. Ask them to be mentors. Get advice from the coaches who have helped them achieve success. Talk to a career counselor, academic advisers, professors, friends, family and those who can help, encourage and guide you. Find a job – any job – doing what you love to do or in a place where people are doing what you love. Give it a good year, and give yourself permission to change your mind. Don’t change direction because you’re scared; change direction because you found something even better along the way. Trust that you will either get where you want to go or get somewhere even better. But it all starts with knowing one thing: You will be OK. Believe this, and no matter what happens next, you will always be OK.