I remember the day I graduated from college clearly (even after a few celebratory drinks).
I was ready to take on the world.
I had a beautiful pair of rose colored glasses and a fabulous job on my side.
My parents gave me my graduation gift followed by, “Congratulations, you are cut off.”
This moment didn’t even phase me because I had always worked. I had been working full-time my senior year for the company I would take my “big girl” job with and I was ready to work hard! Not to mention I had been babysitting since I was 12; I got this!
As I entered into my day job, I dove hard at first, and for 5 years I worked for the same company.
And then it hit me! That moment that most people have the day they graduate, I started thinking, “What am I doing with my life?”
I equated it to marrying the first guy I ever went on date with. I thought I would stay there forever. I never had any intention of leaving, but deep in my soul, something was missing. I didn’t know what, but I knew I had to go out and meet more prospects because I knew something was off.
So I jumped, I took a job that deep in my gut I knew was wrong, but I thought it was the only way out.
I left that job after 4 months, took my savings, moved halfway across the country for a man, and had a series of epic fails.
This is where I realized, no one, no class, no professor prepared me for this. This moment of being lost, this moment of not knowing what was next.
Where was my class teaching me that I didn’t have to settle for a job I hated?
Or a class teaching me how to deal with rejection after rejection as I walked the streets of Chicago handing my resume to anyone that would listen.
Where was the job teaching me how to find a job that I was so passionate about?
Where was the class teaching me about my “gut” feeling?
Believe me, I am a huge believer in education, so don’t take this as an article on why not to go to school. My desire is to reach someone just graduating, someone who may be experiencing their quarter-life crisis, and shine some light on some lessons I wish I would have known at that lost moment.
1. First and foremost you must find your “why.” What the heck is that? Your why is your passion, what makes you get out of bed in the morning, things that you could talk about for hours and hours and want to share with the world. When I first heard about this “why” I thought, “How the heck do I find it?” And here is how I did: I explored, I tried fun adventures, tried new activities, I paid attention to what got me excited. I asked. I asked my friends and my family, “What are the top things you go to me for? What do you think I am best in the world at?” And from that, I found my passion for coaching, connecting and community.
2. Trust your gut. I used to hear this phrase and wonder, what the heck is my gut? I mean I know it is a part of my body, but how do I “listen to my gut.” Your gut is that subtle voice, the one that pops up before the crazy comes. My “gut” was that voice that just told me when I left my first job, “You are leaving for a job that isn’t right.” I wish I would have known how to hear my “gut” back then.
3. If you keep getting the same disappointing answers, it’s time to look within. I continued to go on a series of interviews in Chicago when I moved back to California and years after. I was searching for something more. I would continue to find myself in Marketing Director roles and 2 years later I was unhappy! It took me a long time to look within. And the reality is, I was raised that we were lucky to have a job, so I was willing to take anything. Any job was better than no job. And because I was so lost I was settling for jobs that were below my experience. I was interviewing for jobs that I would absolutely hate! But I was willing to settle just so I could have that steadiness. It wasn’t until I explored and looked within that I found the answer, I found my passion and I stopped trying to fit myself in the wrong positions.
4. Don’t quit your day job without a plan. Ok this one may be controversial. The first time I quit my day job without a plan, I had $10,000 in savings and moved cross country. Do you know how quickly $10,000 of savings can go? The reality is, if I were to do it all over, I would have waited, made sure I secured a new job and then took the leap. Here is why, we hear a lot about “follow your passion, quit your job and start a business.” I am 2 years into a very successful business and I can tell you, it takes hard work, time and investment. A business is just like a human being, you have to feed it and nourish it! So first make sure that you feel very secure in your plan because if you are scrapping for money and feeling stressed about it, this will affect the results of your business.
5. Anything is possible. Here is the deal, once you find your passion and your why, it’s time to decide what direction you want to go in. As long as you are passionate about the idea, the concept or the job, anything is possible! What is key is making sure that this is an idea that lights you up so that you can go out there and sell it!
So today, in a world of choices, remember these 5 tips. I promise you, from someone who has had many jobs, many careers, and now owns a successful business, you will come out the other side, you will be stronger, you will find a job that you absolutely love, as long as you take some time, look within, explore and find (and follow) that passion.