Unemployed After Graduation? Try The Bucket List Strategy

May 5, 2020 | 20-Somethings, Career Launch, Career Management, Emergency

Do you know what you want to do when you grow up? Or are you like the rest of us who had, or have no idea?  To be honest, I’m pretty tired of people who say, “Just follow your passion, the rest will work itself out.” Will it? What If I don’t know what I’m passionate about or I’m passionate about 10 disparate things? Now what am I supposed to do?

This month I’ve been coaching recent and almost college grads who are looking for career ideas as well as looking for a job. We’ve all come to the conclusion that this CV-19 shut down period, is the perfect time for a little self-reflection and cogitation about life in general.

Maybe it’s a good time to ask yourself, “What do I want to do with my life, not just what do I want to do for a career?” That’s a pretty big question for a 22-year old, but come on, let’s face it, you have a ton of time on your hands, and If Not Now. When?

Yes, I realize we don’t have the luxury of sitting around and having existential conversations with ourselves all day, pondering the meaning of life and what our greater purpose is. But, with some focused and organized thinking, I’m sure we can sort out quite a few things about our careers and lives that we haven’t yet.

As usual I’ve come up with a list of steps. I love these. They result from a lot of contemplating and strategizing, but they’re actionable, which makes me feel productive and energized. Let’s call this The Bucket List of Steps:

Step One:
Create a Bucket List. You know, all the things you want to do before you die. And don’t make it a depressing thought, rather see it as an opportunity to think about your present and your future. Think of it as a gift to yourself, a list of all those dreams you’d like to reach in one document.

Step Two:
Categorize your Bucket List using the Headers and Columns in the picture above, and add one or two things into each.
The list above is the result of my own Bucket List  cogitating!                                       

Things I want to learn
Places I want to see
People I want to meet
Things I want to discover/uncover
Things I want to invent

Step Three:
Ready. Set. Go!
I could list a plethora of benefits to doing this exercise, but here are three big ones:

One: Regardless of which one you choose to start first, you will learn something, whether it be financial literacy, research, how many people are allowed to jump out of a plane at the same time, how to book a flight, how to have a conversation with a total stranger, how to manage a budget. The list is endless.

Two: Planning gives us a sense of control, which we need in times of flux. Getting ideas out of our head and onto paper or spreadsheet creates a little more space in our heads for new ideas and can also create some accountability to yourself.

Three: You’ll see quite clearly which of these dreams/bucket list items you’re putting off due to a lack of time, and we all know that at this point in your life you have more time than you will ever have again until you retire! So maybe it’s time to admit that they’re not really dreams or priorities at all. Or that you don’t have the commitment or desire to follow through on them. If that’s the case, take them off and let them go. Otherwise they can become a burden.

Step Four:
Look at your Bucket List and look for clues that could lead to career ideas. I’m not suggesting that if baking expertise is on your Bucket List, you should become a baker. Rather if 3 or 4 of the items are creative, or involve building something, or learning something, then consider whether the path you have chosen will leverage that interest or desire or drive.  Or you find yourself drawn to more risky experiences or active experiences, take that into consideration when you think about the career roles you have considered. Will they offer you the opportunity to put yourself out there, or take chances on ideas and actions?

This type of brainstorming, mind-mapping, bucket list and table making, may be challenging on your own. Consider doing it with a friend or a family member, or a mentor. Tell them you want 30 minutes of their time twice a week for two weeks and see what manifests.

Happy Bucket List Making. Call us if you need any help!