What types of career decisions do young people make?

For most adults, career decisions "just happened." You did not have any formal help in your own career development. If you were fortunate, you had a dream that you followed, and you were able to achieve it. However, according to a series of Gallup Polls in the 1980's and 90's, a majority (over 70%) of working adults wish they could start over. If they could, they would use more and better information in making their decisions.

A career decision is not one, unalterable choice about our life's work. Rather, we make many career decisions throughout our lives, decisions about our short- and long-term goals, about pursuing those goals, and about changing those goals.

Career decisions are about taking action - to build self-knowledge, to provide a deeper understanding of options, to learn foundation skills and develop knowledge, and to set and achieve our goals.

Whenever our children make a choice that affects their options in the future, they are making a career decision. Early in life, there are few decisions that are irreversible. But by the time children reach middle school, their interests, skills, and educational paths are beginning to emerge through the choices they (and their parents) make. Do I take algebra? Am I going to read three books during the summer to improve my reading? Should I attend a community class on drawing and painting? What about participating in sports, scouting, or 4-H? Do I want to help with my church's Thanksgiving meal?

Each of these decisions can open or close a door of opportunity. The important thing for you as a parent is to help your children make decisions that can expand opportunities and promote growth. Consider together the pluses and minuses, be aware of other responsibilities and expectations, and debrief each experience afterward. Above all, make decisions consciously. Not making a decision is a decision in itself, and it is rare that not making a decision helps anyone reach a goal.