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Results are in, what next?

Over the next couple of days, thousands of students are going to be receiving their A Level and Leaving Cert results and will have decisions to make about what comes next.  It’s a daunting task and a difficult decision to make at the age of eighteen.  After thinking back to my own results day, I’ve noted down some of the things that I remember from the experiences of my friends and I.

These results usually go one of two ways:

  1. You’re delighted with what you’ve gotten and know what your next move is going to be; or
  2. You had hoped for something different and are now weighing up your options.

If you’re in the first category, well done.  You’ve obviously worked hard and already know what you would like to do come September.  Congratulations!  My advice would be to enjoy this achievement, and whether you’re going on to university, a job, further education or travelling the world, enjoy this moment.  You’ve spent years bouncing from one set of exams to the next and you deserve to take a breath and think about all you’ve done up until now.  Take the time to appreciate what you’ve achieved before you dive head first into the next set of exams, and then whenever the next stage becomes difficult you can always look back and remember that you’ve been able to pull it out of the bag before, why not again?  Give yourself the credit you deserve.

If you’re in the second category and things either haven’t gone to plan or there was never a plan to go by,  please read the paragraph for group number one.  Congratulations!  Things might still be unclear but even the fact that you are now thinking about what the next step is for you is something to be proud of.  If you’re planning and looking at options, you should realise just how mature a person needs to be in order to make those kinds of decisions and recognise that everyone has a long road ahead of them, and you’re all only beginning.

If you’re disappointed, remember, what happens in September is not going to determine your path for the rest of your life.  Yes, it is important.  Yes, you should seek advice where you can about your next steps.  You should also give yourself a break because there are thousands who have come before you without a clue about what they  want to do with themselves and they’ve been fine.  Take your time and talk to whoever you can about what options are out there.  I know that every person is unique but I promise that there are more opportunities out there than you would ever believe.

Gap years are becoming increasingly common, and if it’s good enough for Malia Obama, it’s something worth thinking about.  Who knows what you might learn while doing something out of the ordinary?  It could inspire you to take up a career you would never have imagined before now, all because you gave yourself the time to look into it.  A year is such a short space of time in reality.  Although it may seem like a long time when friends are leaving for university or if you’re leaving for somewhere new, it’s incredible how little difference things like that make when looking back.

Recent research by Forbes & Morgan McKinley shows that the average 35 year old will change jobs 8 to 10 times before they are 42 and change career 6 to 8 times before they retire.  The days of jobs for life are gone.  While this certainly has its downsides in that the workplace is now a competitive marketplace, it means that people have the chance throw themselves into things that they are passionate about, and that the option of changing your mind has never been clearer than it is now.  At eighteen or nineteen years old, it’s impossible to say what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life.

I left school fully confident that I knew what I wanted to do and determined to get there.  Seven years later, I’m working in a job that I love but didn’t even know existed when I left school, and I couldn’t have imagined the path I would take to get here.  It’s made me very suspicious of those who always seem to know what they’re doing.

Enjoy the celebrations, take time to breath, then remember that although the results are in, things really are only beginning.

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