How to Make the Right Study Choice
One of the most important decisions you have to make in your life is the choice of your studies. Therefore, this choice should be made consciously and independent of social conditioning. It is common and a well-known stereotype that young people often study a specific subject to live up to the expectations of their parents. This results in bad grades, unhappiness, mediocre careers or even worse.
After school, a lot of people don’t exactly know what they want to do in their future. This often leads to a half reasoned decision to study this or that because it seems promising and they have good grades in the relating school subjects. I though this way and I interrupted my first studies in the second semester. I studied Aerospace Engineering in Delft. Well, I though it would be interesting and I had acceptable grades in math and physics. It also seemed reasonable, because engineers are much sought after, I guess. After six months of studying my created reality started to crumble down. It didn’t feel right. It took me at least two months to realize and accept that. Fortunately, my sister assured me that it is all right to stop your studies if you have a plan B. In order to make this plan I had to find the truth about my desires first.
It is very hard to find out what you really want, but it can be even harder to accept it.
What you really want
First of all we need to find out what we want. But wait, this actually implies that we want something. At least we know that. Being unaware of what we want means that we lack consciousness. It makes us wonder around trying to figure out randomly what suits us instead of focusing on our internal compass. Focusing means listening to yourself and stop ignoring your inner signals. How can we do that? How can we stop wandering around? The best way to do this is to define your own goals and work through them.
In this manner, a better approach instead of just looking for a course of study is to define your major goals in life and then pick up the studies that enable you to reach them. I know, it is very hard to define a life goal. I am still working on that too and probably ever will. The idea is to start working in one direction and adjusting your course along the way. The way is your goal, because that is where you live. To become more aware of your goals I would suggest you to answer the questions below in written form. Make it a habit to write out your goals and to keep them accessible. I always had the feeling to lose and forget so many ideas and goals that came to my mind, but couldn’t be grasped right away. Therefore, I started to write them into a journal on my computer.
Also remember the benefits that I mentioned or even better, think of your own benefits that will keep you motivated.
Define Your Goals
Important: Throughout the following process do not judge what you write. Cut out all the voices in your head that tell you what is possible or impossible, good or bad.
What do your want to reach in life? What are your goals?
Get a blank piece of paper and fill it with your wishes. Do you remember how you have felt when you made your wish list for Christmas as a kid? That’s how you have to approach this.
What kind of work would you do without being paid?
What do you want to understand and/or change on this planet?
Imagine a day of your life in 10 years. What does it look like? How do you feel? What have you reached? What do you own? Run through a day from the beginning to the end and imagine as much details as possible.
Let go of all doubts and worries. Dream for a while and let your mind go crazy. If you do this from time to time you will develop a mental picture of your future. This picture will help you make decisions and stay motivated and focused.
By now you should have a long list of your own goals. They can reach from going to Disney World or eating ten Big Macs in one day, to changing the world or becoming a rock star. It is all good, it is your list. Further, if you really want to work with that list you should run through the following steps:
Divide the list into major and minor goals. Which goals are most important to you? Which goals do you want to reach as fast as possible? Which goals really make a difference? Which goals are fun but less important?
Specify your goals. If you just write: “I want to be rich!” you will never know how you can reach it and when you have reached it. Work with numbers, dates, objects, places, person or whatever you need to specify your goal and to create a better mental picture of the goal.
Figure out your intentions. Ask yourself: Why do I want to reach that goal? What is the difference between today and when I have reached that goal? Do I really want this? Imagine you are already there. How would you feel? This can also help you identifying minor and major goals
Choose your education
Slowly, you should get a feeling for what you really want and what is just for fun. Now focus on what you desire most. Make a rough plan on how you can reach it. Do you need to be educated or have this or that skill? Fine, that is what we have been aiming for. Define precisely what you need to learn. If you aren’t sure about that, read articles, blogs or books. Also, analyze people who have reached your goal to see how they have managed it.
With that knowledge you can make a list (last one, I promise) of the most important points you need to learn and know to succeed. Compare this list with curricula of many studies from different universities. Look for the studies with the most matches. The rest should be manageable with normal human reasoning. Important is that the studies you choose are aligned with your true desires, your true self.
If you don’t need to be educated to reach the goal you desire most, then that’s fine too. Go for it buddy. Do you see the point here? You don’t need to study. You just have to have the knowledge and skills to create the life that you desire. Yeah fine, but how can I make money out of it? Be creative! For example: You want to travel the world. Write a book about it, work and travel or combine it with something else that allows you to make money. Focus on the opportunities and not the problems. Moreover, if you do what you really want you will work harder, learn more and be better than otherwise.
Dealing With Obstacles
As I personally went through that process it become clear that most of my goals had something to do with music. I wanted to become a better singer and guitarist. I wanted to write songs and make music at least as a hobby and I definitely would work for it without being paid. Nevertheless, I still couldn’t accept this truth completely. This made me come up with the compromise to combine music and engineering. In the end I applied for two different audio engineering courses in Düsseldorf and in Utrecht. During the application process at the Hoogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU) something happened to my way of thinking. Working hard for the entrance exam and seeing motivated students at the open day helped me realize what I wanted. At the final interview itself I admitted to myself and the committee that I actually wanted to study composition too and not only audio design. In the end I was accepted for the course composition and music technology, which are the best fitting studies for me I can imagine so far.
The way I dealt with my doubts and disillusions was to acknowledge them and still move in the right direction step by step. “Feel the fear and do it anyway” (Susan Jeffers). But one of my worst sources of doubts were social conditioning.
Social conditioning makes you behave in a way that most likely will get you approval from your society or peers. Acting against these conditioning creates social pressure. For example through bullying, excluding, non-acceptance or disapproval. This possible social pressure creates fear, which we try to avoid through playing by the rules. It is totally natural to have the anxiety of disapproval by others. We just have to become aware of this fear and learn to deal with it. To do that, you should stop from time to time and ask you the following questions: Why am I behaving this particular way? What are the results of my actions? Do I secretly hope for approval by others? What are the motives for my actions?
You can also reflect on your day before falling asleep. Get a feeling for the intentions of your behavior and become more conscious to align with your true self.
What have we learned? How can we make one of our most important decisions in life? The answers are: Get to know you as best as you possibly could. Become aware of your goals in life and everything else will follow. See your studies as means and not an end. Differentiate between things you do to get the approval from others and things you really desire. And last but not least, do what you love and love what you learn.