Stuck in a Rut? Not Sure What Career Choices to Make? Listen in.

Hi everybody I’m Brian Clapp, Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports podcast..

I want to say a quick thank you to all of the people who have been coming to our Facebook LIVE sessions every Thursday night at 7:30 EST from the Work in Sports facebook page. The sessions have been so much fun, I start out with a theme something I want to teach, and then open it up for audience questions.

Last week the subject was the 5 people you need in your professional network – which sparked a lot of great conversation. If you missed the live you can check out the replay, either on the Work in Sports Facebook page If you have questions about your career, our facebook live sessions are just another way we are trying to help you!

Now let’s get into today’s fan question…

I’m actually stealing this from a classroom session I did last week at Lindenwood University. Thanks to Dr. Daniel Sweeney for inviting me into their classroom for a live QA session.

This was the hardest question I got all day. I’m paraphrasing since I didn’t write it down in the moment.

“I’m a junior and for the last three years I’ve been trying to find out what interests me and what I want to do. I took this Intro to sports management course hoping this could be it, but I don’t think it is. I feel lost. Do you have any advice for me?”

I’d like to add in, I was at my local coffee shop on Saturday morning and since I frequent the place I know most of the staff. One of the women working, said almost the exact same thing to me as the student above. I feel lost, I don’t know what I want to do with my life… and she looked to the heavens as if someone in the attic was going to scream down – “you should be an accountant!”

The point of all this is simple – so many people feel lost when trying to define their career and give it a label. Even if you’ve deduced you want to work in sports, which I fully endorse, you might have no clue what you want to do inside of the vast sports industry.

Just to set reasonable expectations here, I will not be able to tell you exactly what you should do with your life. BUT, I think in this conversation I can help give you some steps to take, and take some of the pressure off of you. So let’s talk about it, and all this applies to anyone, not just sports people.

1: Your career is not a trap.

I find the biggest problem facing people in the career decision making process is not excitement or anticipation of making a great choice, but rather fear of making the wrong choice.

The people that struggle to commit have it their head that a wrong decision will doom them to an unhappy and unfulfilled life.

Take a deep breath people. This pressure you are putting on yourself is NOT helping you.

Here are the facts, that person next to you who says they know exactly what they want to do with their life… will likely change careers 5-7 times over their lifetime. That’s the data. People change careers between 5-7 times over their lifetime.

This is not a one-time, set it and forget it, decision.

You are judging yourself against other people, thinking they have it all figured out, and that mounts the pressure within. The truth is, they don’t have it figured out anymore than you do. They think they do, but they will likely go down one path, and then change to another..and another.

Take the pressure off yourself! Your career is not something you start as soon as you finish college and then are stuck there forever. If it works and you are happy, awesome keep going, if it is not what you love, or it is too stressful or you aren’t fulfilled…then you change.

And change doesn’t always mean going back to school and starting from scratch, it means buikding off what you have already learned and experience in life. Learn to leverage the skills you have that work for any situation.

2: If you are confused and scared and overwhelmed…get the best general education you can.

If you are really feeling lost, learn the skills that can apply to multiple career paths. And by this I mean a business degree. With a business degree you could work in the front office of a baseball team or open up your own coffee shop. One you know the principles of business success this applies to any field. Anything.

I would strongly vote against getting either a highly specialized degree like romance languages, or a very broad degree like liberal studies.

If you are unsure – gravitate towards the studies that can give you the most applicable skills to the world. Business. Maybe that sounds boring to you, maybe the idea of taking an economics class sounds awful, or learning the ins and outs of spreadsheets sounds exhausting… but I’ll tell you what, if you learn business skills you’ll be able to get a job just about anywhere doing any myriad of things.

3: Tune everyone out.

You’re feeling pressure because of your parents. Or because the person next to you seems o dialed in. Or because your roommate just got a killer internship. Or because your professor has put some fear into you.

Look pressure paralyses us and makes it harder to make decisions.

Those who are able to channel the pressure and compartmentalize it, are the ones who find real success. I find the more I have “Oh no” running through my brain, the less likely I am to make a smart choice, or be creative.

When I’m trying to think up content ideas if I’m in my head saying “think think think the clock is ticking you have to hit a deadline” THIS DOES NOT HELP.

I go for a walk, or out on my paddleboard, or meditate, or do some yoga. You need to clear your mind not focus harder. You don’t want to be hearing the voices of everyone around you, you want to be listening to your inner mind.

4: Volunteer – A lot.

There is a commitment to interning. 6 months or longer, you are working a job in your field. But if you don’t know what your field is… well, that makes it tough.

Volunteering is different. 1-2 days maybe a week, you are in the thick of things but not committed long term. If it’s in sports look to golf events, road races, bike tours, charitable events, community relations from the local pro teams. These are great places to volunteer and get exposed to other options.

Try different things. Some you will love, some you will hate. Hating something is just as important as loving it… it tells you what you don’t want to do, again very valuable.

5: informational interviews.

Talk to people out there and be curious about their world. DO NOT say something whiny like Eeyore “I don’t know what I want to do, can you help me?” there is nothing more uninspiring. Be curious about what they do, how they found it, what they like about it, the challenges they face and more.

Just like an informational interview – I’d suggest you listen to our podcast, and others like Work Life with Adam Grant, and How I built this with Guy Raz – these are just a few career focused podcasts that might help you find a direction.

Look no one can tell you what you should do, because no one is inside of your heart and soul. It’s a process of discovery that only you can go through… but experiencing many thing will help, being curious  by asking questions… and releasing pressure. Do not let the pressure build up – it does not help.

Remember the average number of times people change jobs is between 10-15 times over a lifetime, and the average number of wholesale career changes is 5-7 times.

No one has it all figured out… life is a process we work through…

Tune in Wednesday for our expert interview with Lee De Leon, Purdue Universities Associate Athletic Director and a really great guy – talk to you all then.

By Brian Clapp | January 28, 2019
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