Maybe you’re a first-year college student and can’t decide on what major to choose. Or maybe when it came time to choose your major, you didn’t want to limit yourself so you just enrolled in general studies. Or maybe you’re a third-year college student and still have no idea what you want to do once you get your degree.
You know those old “choose your own adventure” books? Well, now it’s time to choose your major. Where do you want your college degree to take you? A college education should help you be successful, but first you need to know where you are headed. When deciding on a program of study, you have to keep the end in mind. Will taking these classes accomplish your goals?
First you have to spend some time figuring out what your goals are. For each specific goal you make, you should ask the questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how.
- What is the goal?
- Why it is a goal?
- When do you want to have it done by?
- How you will accomplish it?
- Who can help you reach your goal?
- Where does it fit with your other goals?
- Will this goal help you achieve your life goals?
You may not know what your future will be, but you know it’s out there. What can you do in the meantime? “We can identify our priorities. We can be intentional in how we live. We can make a difference and do things that matter. We can make choices that might be hard but [are] definitely worth it. We can take a stand for something, knowing its impact can be far-reaching and can leave a mark beyond our lives.” (Tim Tebow, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms)
FIND A NEED AND FILL IT
Self-motivation usually comes from the inner need or desire of a person to get off their duff and go do something for a REASON, such as:
- Need to pay for basics: food, housing, transportation, and clothes.
- Need to pay for entertainment, if that is an important priority.
- Need for educating oneself in order to get a high enough paying job to pay for the above and any extras or dreams such as providing for a family.
- Need to fulfill desire to be of service to humanity in some way: health, education, children, elderly, special needs, public safety, protection, and assistance.
- Need to fulfill desire to use expertise in fields of science, technology, and creativity.
- Need to have the feeling of personal satisfaction from becoming an independent, responsible adult fully capable of caring for oneself – in preparation for the time when parents are not there or able to “pick up the tab.”
“Where are you investing your resources? How are you spending your time? Your money? Your talents? How are you leveraging for a greater purpose the person God created you to be? Are you impacting others through your kindness, your courage, your compassion? Are you sharing hope? Are you living a life of love? Are you taking a stand? Doing something that matters?” (Tim Tebow, Shaken)
What did Henry Ford, Sam Walton, and Steve Jobs have in common? They found a need and filled it!
- Henry Ford set out to manufacture an automobile that every man could afford, and was not only successful in meeting this need, but also forever changed manufacturing processes.
- Sam Walton’s goal was to lower the cost of living for Americans, and thereby increase their standard of living.
- Steve Jobs connected humanity through personal computing that was easy, intuitive, and broadly universal.
Each of the entrepreneurs described above (and many others) introduced a new idea, product, or service that improved the lives of the end user. A biographical review of these entrepreneurs will reveal a pattern of giving themselves over to a singular goal of improving the lives of others and pouring all of their talents into it. When you choose your major, think of who you aspire to be.
In service of what?
Consider the real goal you should have in mind when you choose your major. As legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl so eloquently wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning: “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued, it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than one’s self.”
So think bigger. Be a part of something greater than yourself. This could be anything. We’re all enthusiastic about something. It’s more of an issue of finding the right channel that motivates you to use your intelligence on something worthwhile. Some people take an active role in their local community, some join social clubs supporting causes they resonate with, some find passion in their jobs or hobbies, and others find refuge in their faith or family. In each case the psychological outcome is the same. They engage themselves in something they strongly believe in. This engagement brings happiness, success, and meaning to their lives.
Leverage your unique qualities
Take notice of what types of things you like to work on and in what situations. What does this tell you about your abilities — mechanical, verbal, numerical, artistic, and people skills? God gives each of us different gifts, and your innate qualities are directly related to God’s plan for your life.
Here are some questions to answer as you ponder your goals, to help you focus on what’s important to you and what you do best, for when it comes time to choose your major.
- What are you passionate about?
- What are some activities or special interests you enjoyed growing up? What did you enjoy most about them and why?
- What skills or abilities have you developed over the years? Which ones were easy for you to learn or develop?
- What achievements are you most proud of?
- What are some activities or projects that energized you and gave you the most satisfaction?
- What experiences have you had that thoroughly captured your imagination?
- What are your favorite school subjects?
- If you could study anything you wanted, what would it be?
- What types of work have you done well in, or not so well in?
- If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?
- Do you like to work with your hands, or do you prefer intellectual work?
- What kinds of things (ideas, tools, people, etc.) do you like to work with, and in what situations?
- What do you want to accomplish in your life? Who do you want to be?
- What are the top ten things that you want to spend your time on this year?
- What is your number one goal for the next six months?
- What do you want to have achieved in one year from now? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
- What are the top five companies or organizations where you would like to work?
- What is your ideal career?
- How can you start creating your ideal career starting today?
- Who are the people who you most admire? What can you learn from them? How can you be like them?
- What matters most to you in life?
- What are your biggest goals and dreams? How important are these goals to you?
- What’s holding you back or stopping you from pursuing your goals? How can you overcome this obstacle?
- Who are the five people you spend the most time with? Are these people enabling you or holding you back?
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- Is what you are doing today getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow?
- What life lessons are you learning right now?
- Are you confident in yourself, or are you allowing others to speak for you?
- What do you want out of life and what can you do to get there?
- What actions can you take right now to prepare for your future?
Choose your major wisely. You will want to prepare for a career that matches your unique abilities, talents, needs, values, and interests. You should seek to use your talents to improve the lives of others. You also need something that fits with the lifestyle you want to live. Take time to explore your interests and find a college major that will put you on a path to a great future.