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During the early years of a child’s development, parents play the prime role in the formation of the child’s identity, attitudes and beliefs. However, as the child grows, peers take over to influence beliefs towards the outside world, including appearance, lifestyle, education, and even, career. This peer influence and the need for social acceptance are most significant at adolescence, than at any point in our lives.

Yet when this influence collides with career choice, it becomes all the more crucial to understand the role it plays in swaying a student’s career beliefs and decisions, and to control it before it leads to undesired results. Choosing a career is kind of a big deal. That’s not to say you can’t change it at any time it stops serving you, but it’s an intimidating decision. So, of course, it’s natural to seek advice from those nearest and dearest to us.

However, no matter how much we trust them, it’s not always helpful and we need to remember that they’re only giving us their personal opinion. It’s good to get a broad range of perspectives, but there are a few very good reasons you shouldn’t let that perspective become an influence on your career choices.

Making a career decision, or any decision for that matter, can be very easy or very difficult depending on the amount of information you have about your choices. In choosing your career path it is important to think about many factors. Before you deal with the process please do remember that it’s about your career and decision should be yours.

Use the steps below to guide you through your career decision making process.

  • Before you begin gathering information, it is important that you have a clear understanding of what it is you are trying to decide.
  • To make an informed career decision and prior to any exploration of the world of work, it is important to have a good understanding of your own personal attributes.
  • To continue gathering information and researching careers, you will need to start identifying your options.
  • After completing your research, you are now ready to evaluate each of the options you have been exploring.
  • Based on the information you have gathered and analyzed, you should now be able to choose one of the career options and start creating a plan of action.

Here are a few of the (probable) outcomes of career decisions that are based on peer influences:

1. Inability to Cope with the Curriculum

The most elementary of things is that a student who ends up with a wrong subject choice, based on inputs from peers and others, would find it challenging to cope with the academic requirements of the course. Inability to concentrate, memorize, understand, and perform are just natural outcomes in such a case. As the student gradually loses the motivation to exert effort, s/he is likely to become withdrawn, both academically and socially. 

2. Damage to Self-Confidence 

The student’s inability to cope with expectations both at home and at school/college is further likely to lead to a loss of self-esteem and confidence. A fear of failure results as the student starts to doubt his/her self-worth and ability to perform well. Lack of self-esteem and confidence are often accompanied by adverse effects such as anxiety, stress, loneliness, interpersonal problems, and even depression.

3. Failure to Display Competence at Work

Now, even if the student manages to score enough to finally land up in the particular career field, there are high chances that the shortcomings in the academic life would carry forward in the work life too, as the essential match of aptitude with the career is missing. This lack of aptitude is likely to remain as the individual would find it difficult to bring about a level of competence and excellence expected at the workplace, and end up staying mediocre. In such cases, a feeling of “unfulfillment” and “inadequacy” is quite common.   

4. Dissatisfaction with Job and Career

Keeping performance aside, one needs to essentially “enjoy the work” to gather the motivation to work every day, and have a chance at a fulfilling career. Yet, if one’s personality and lifestyle don’t match with the basic requirements of the career, s/he is likely to feel mentally and physically exhausted every day, trying to deal with the daily activities of their job. The best example of this would be an introvert stuck in a job that involves daily meetings, social gatherings and group interactions. Such a person is naturally going to feel worn out by the end of the day, trying to fit in in an environment that lies outside of the comfort zone.

So, here’s the takeaway. In the end, it’s your life and you’ll be the one living it. So if someone really thinks you should become a doctor but you can’t stand the sight of blood, you’re going to have a pretty bad time at work. A lot of the time the feedback you get from people who care about you are just trying to get the best for you and that’s lovely. But only you can know what’s best for you.

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