Here are some tools to help you in your decision-making process.

What Do I Want to Be in the Future?

What Do I Want to Be In the Future? - National Runaway Safeline

Image courtesy of Coloraura – Flickr Commons

When you call our crisis services center, or write to us on, you ask questions like, “what do I want to be in the future?” or, “What should I do with my life?” We then ask you to consider what these questions mean to you. Our goal is to help you to think about your life, where you are right now, and what you might want for yourself.

If you contacted us, you may be feeling as if you don’t have a future, or the problem you are facing is impossible to deal with. By stopping for a moment and considering what you want your future to be, you are taking the first step toward a long journey to reaching that future goal.

Lindsey Kahney, NRS’ runaway prevention specialist, explains how she helps a youth work through a moment of crisis. Obviously, each situation is different but a lot of times when talking with youth, I would try and address the immediate needs  to get them to focus on realistic expectations and goals. Trying to get them to understand that no goal is too small and it’s okay to start out with baby steps and it’s also okay not to really know what you want at this time. It’s great to have larger goals but sometimes it can become overwhelming so trying to break them down and figure out small steps first seem to make things a little more reasonable. A lot of times on the lines it would be ‘what is going to happen tonight, when we get off the phone, etc’… or when you were talking with youth about their goals – ‘how can you make positive steps to work towards that.'”

There are several ways you can help yourself to discover what you want for your future. Here are several tools you can use to sort out your feelings, and see more clearly what it is that you want.

Make a list. Think of all the things that you are interested in, regardless of whether or not it is a career or job. From “Choosing a Career:

“For me, I basically started with a list of really broad topics that interested me. Then once I narrowed down the topics, there were a few careers that ended up on my list. I read about each career and spoke to people who worked or are working in those careers.”

Once you have a list containing several options, you can start to explore each to determine how interested you are in each, and what you might like to pursue.

Learn more by doing. When you have a list of interests, find out all you can about those pursuits. The best way to learn is to get involved. From “Real World Experience:

“If you want to be a teacher, any job can be useful. Work at an amusement park or work at a camp. If you work at one of those places and like it then teaching might be for you. If you want to be an engineer, then possibly working at a hardware store could work. You can turn anything into some experience.”

You can also conduct “informational interviews” with people that are already involved in your interests. Ask them questions like:

  • Why did you choose to do this?
  • How did you reach your goals?
  • Where can I learn how to do what you do?

Make a set of goals. Now that you have a more clear understanding of where your interests lie, you might consider creating a set of goals that will lead you to fulfill your interests. In order to make those goals, you may need to ask yourself questions in order to clarify how you will reach those goals:

  • Are there classes I can take at my school?
  • Do I need more training?
  • Do I need to go to college?
  • Can I get an entry-level position and then work my way up?

By asking these questions, you can determine if you need to accomplish a set of smaller goals, like going to class and studying well, in order to reach your larger goal.

Other options besides college. Depending on what you are interested in, you may not need to go to a college or university. Several careers and vocations can be learned on the job through an internship, or through trade schools, or even the military. From “Choosing a Career and Going to College:

“There are so many other things that we as young adults can do that are productive. There are trade schools, nursing programs, cosmetology schools, culinary programs and more. You can find an internship or apprenticeship that allows you to focus on a career of your choice.”

Seek out a mentor. Are you curious about how a person reached their goals? Is there someone you admire and wish to learn from? A mentor can be a very helpful option because of their experience and connections. From “Why a Mentor is Important:

“Having a good mentor, especially one of the same gender, can be highly beneficial to you. They can write you letters of recommendations, help you find employment and schooling, or get you involved in extracurricular activities. Mentors are around to assist you in achieving goals that you set for yourself.”

These tools can make it easier for you to imagine what you would like your future to be, as well as plan the steps it may take to achieve your goals.

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