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Answering the "what if" question to stop your existential crisis

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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice Feb 28, 2022
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Think of it like an adult stay-in, internship or even better, apprenticeship. You pay a sort of middleman to connect you to a profession or alternate lifestyle you think would have been more appropriate for you. A middleman would be ideal to look for businesses willing to take you on. You make arrangements on what you want to do, how long and where you want to do it. The middleman makes all the arrangements and when the time comes, you transplant your entire life for a while.
Have you ever woken up on a Monday morning and thought " if only I studied animal health in college, my life would be so much happier right now", then followed up that thought with the classic " what am I doing with my life?" or the similarly timeless thought of "how did it end up like this."?
If so , then you have experienced exestential dread, the fear that you're not living 'right' despite knowing that there is objectively no right way to live.
How It Works.
Competency is the only qualification for getting paid. If you are not getting paid, It's volunteering and there is really nothing stopping anyone from volunteering anywhere. Right? On the other hand , Exestential dread is pretty serious, considering you have to go to therapy to work it out. This is more of a hands on approach to therapy. Instead of sitting and talking, why not explore the ideal scenario and see if it makes you happy. Getting to try it out might make you realize that even the most ideal job is hard and not an assuarance of hapinness.
Relevant research
The past 30 years have seen a dramatic rise in people seeking meaning in their lives. Just by movies alone you can see this. The 1990's and 2000's saw the popularization of the midlife crisis trope, Compare that with the present theme of intellegence and disillusionment with life. The more people know the more they question the worth of it all. Actual studies have been done to document this change of outlook over the years .
This is the same with work too, People want meaningful purpose-driven work and this pattern will only increase as people keep getting more individualistic .In younger generations the term "special snowflake" is used to refer to people who go out of their way not to follow public sentiment. Which is shocking because that's the kind of thing that would get you bullied in school. People are becoming less and less willing to lay low and follow social convention. Personal ideals predicate social expectation.
This graph of relative frequency of use is the final nail in the coffin. People don't want to go to work on monday morning out of duty, They want to do it because they choose to . The only way to get there is to let them see for themselves that there is really nothing better they'd rather be doing.

[1]Greenfield, P. M. (2013). The changing psychology of culture from 1800 through 2000. Psychol. Sci. 24, 1722–1731. doi: 10.1177/0956797613479387

[2]Sheahan, P. (2005). Generation Y: Thriving and Surviving with Generation Y at Work. Prahran: Hardy Grant.

[3]Greenfield, P. M. (2009). Linking social change and developmental change: shifting pathways of human development. Dev. Psychol. 45, 401–418. doi: 10.1037/a0014726

[4]Hill, P. L., Edmonds, G. W., Peterson, M., Luyckx, K., and Andrews, J. A. (2016). Purpose in life in emerging adulthood: development and validation of a new brief measure. J. Posit. Psychol. 9760, 1–9. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2015.1048817

[5]Damon, W., Menon, J., and Bronk, K. (2003). The development of purpose during adolescence. Appl. Dev. Sci. 7, 119–128. doi: 10.1207/S1532480XADS0703_2

Creative contributions

Destigmatizing career changes throughout life

jnikola Mar 01, 2022
I strongly agree with Povilas S in his contribution, but to again refer to the title of the Contrived _voice's idea... although the outcome could be positive and the person could feel like the internship job is the one that would make him/her happy for the rest of their lives (what Povilas mentioned), I think they should still do it.
The crisis could happen again, after the change, and that's ok. Some people need a change once in a while, and that's their answer to "what if" questions. That's what makes them happy. Therefore, the Contrived _voice's idea could be one of the ways to answer the famous "what if" questions and tackle the existential crisis.
Actually, I would propose that everyone who is willing to change his career, can do it freely, with full support from the government, community, family, and friends.
People following their dreams (although they could be following them just to find out they are not what they dreamed of :D) are happy people. People living a dream are lucky people. People dreaming are people who need our help.
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 years ago
I just realised that my proposition is basically intentional disillusionment. purposeful disabuse of our ideal life
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jnikola2 years ago
Contrived _voice Hahaha I wouldn't agree. It's a cool way of experiencing different lives to bring a valid judgment of your current job/position. Like trying clothes until you find something for this (and maybe the next) season.
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What if they find out it actually makes them happier?

Povilas S
Povilas S Mar 01, 2022
What if the person trying your proposed "internship" program actually feels better doing what they thought they have to do instead of their current life situation?
On one hand, it's good, cause then they might try and shift permanently to that business sector (or whatever it is they are trying out). But on the other, it might stimulate even greater feelings of regret and hopelessness for some, because one might need to do a lot to be able to successfully change into another occupation (e.g. finish a university program that they don't have money to pay for, overcome a massive competition of other people seeking the same job, etc.).
This is not to say that people shouldn't participate in such trials, on the contrary - it might be the last drop encouraging some people to finally take an action and change something, but as J. Nikola rightly pointed out, the main problem is taking an action. If a person already has thoughts that they might have chosen a wrong path in life, it's likely and an indication that they indeed did choose the wrong path, the question here is do they have enough guts to do something about it?
I'm saying this with regards to the notion that you expressed in the idea description that such an "internship" might make one realize there is no one good way of going about in life and that every occupation has its own difficulties. But I think more often the outcome of such an internship might be the opposite - it would make you think that you need to change your life and then (depending on the person and circumstances) that you either need and can/will change it or that you need but can't/it's too late to change it.
So the decision to participate in such trials should perhaps come with a certain determination and responsibility.
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Great offering, though we should be conscious that it can be taken advantage of.

Adi B Mar 15, 2022
Great offering you're suggesting here. Something I predict happening is that companies could use these "internships" is not the best interest of the client, but as a sales outlet for recruitment to showcase their company, or the needed job role in a better light than is truly representative. Kind of like when a third-party surveyor comes into your school to assess their teaching, all the teachers seem to be on their best behavior all of a sudden, or when guests visit and your Mum's being overly nice to you. This could help elevate the numbers of shortage jobs by positively and inaccurately representing the job. Keen to hear others' thoughts on this!
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 years ago
ok, yes. fair point. I don't think that's so bad in the long run though. If companies put up a front of positivity the original workers will benefit from improved working conditions. A positive unintended consequence maybe? Also, since it's a short-term internship and you are unskilled in the field, you are not in a position to demand high enough compensation to warrant the company to be worried and make significant changes.
Your main source of experience will come from the actual workers there and odds are they will be really frank with you even if the company tries to paint things rosier than they actually are. This system just lets you exchange your time and manpower in exchange for a fresh perspective. I think the only thing a company can change in that short time frame is just the working conditions, no?
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The biggest problem is to make people do something about it

jnikola Feb 28, 2022
The focus on the existential problem is the key!
I like the concept. It's the same as with clothes. You go into a shopping center to find a black coat. You find one, it's cool, but you, for some reason, want to see what else is there. Only when you check all the black coats in the center, their prices, materials and how they fit you, you are ready to choose which one will you buy. If you don't buy anything, you start asking yourself what's wrong with you :D
The solutions already roamed the platform
Some time ago, Dannon Loveland posted a similar idea which discussed why temporary/contract employers (agencies) don't offer jobs to people who want to explore careers and "find themselves". Similar ideas were discussed here and here, too. Although many great contributions were added, I think your idea that targets the existential questions is something new! Maybe that could be the main thought when targeting new type of customers.
The problem could be tackled from the student's perspective, too. What if, as Michaela D mentioned, all the courses go along with the job shadowings? That way you could enroll in some course that is far from your profession, but you are interested in and experience it for a few days as an student associate. All these could help people get a better and wider perspective of the other jobs, not only theirs.
The main problem
I agree a lot of people feel like not going to work on Monday and feel bad about their false education and job choices. The main problem is, in my opinion, to convince people to do something about it. And what to do with people who have nothing they enjoy doing?
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 years ago
I like the shopping analogy, it's pretty accurate. I see your question. We're asking the wrong question. when you wake up on a Monday morning, Instead of "asking what am I doing? " the better question would be " what do I want to be doing?" Job shadows and work studies are great, but it's a whole new ball game once you start working. Half the time, you're so consumed by work you don't like but have to do that asking for purpose seems depressing.
I think the trick is keeping your hobbies later on in life. being reminded of how it feels to do something you enjoy make it easier to find other things you enjoy.
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jnikola2 years ago
Contrived _voice I agree with you. To tackle the existential problem, we must approach it from many perspectives. Hobbies seem like a cool reminder to do the things you love :)
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General comments

Michaela D
Michaela D2 years ago
At the beginning of trying out a new job, especially as an apprenticeship, usually you stay on the surface of things. It is like looking at the display window where everything seems perfect. Because of that, some professions look ideal (for example actors) and that doesn't help with your existential crisis. So, if someone is serious about answering their "what if" question should try to look deeper. See what is the "dirty" and hard work (for example long shootings under hard conditions). See what skills are required (for example, controlling your voice) and how long it would take to develop them. And certainly, try it for some time, to see how they cope in the longer term. Only then they can have a better idea if that would really make them happy, as Povilas S mentioned.
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