Posts Tagged Careers

Abandoning the idea of a traditional career: Here’s why I’m doing it

Before I give you the break down of why the traditional  “career” thing isn’t for me, let me give you the back story:

For two years I have beat myself up over not knowing how to answer the “What do you want to do” question.  Two. years.  I prayed that the answer would appear to me magically. I looked for signs, I read book-after-book, and when I fell asleep at night, I would close my eyes and wish with all my might that when I woke up in the morning I would know. That I would have an answer. That I would finally be able to tell people “THIS!” “This is exactly what I want to do!”

It never happened.

I continued to berate myself and wonder, “what is wrong with me?”  If you have felt this way before, you know it is suffocating and the ultimate embodiment of living your life through limiting beliefs.  It wasn’t a good feeling.  At the time I didn’t know what to do, so I soldiered on.

So, how did I reach the point where I decided being on a career path was no longer for me?
Strangely, it happened when I was having a conversation with a friend who has pretty much known what she’s wanted to do her entire life. (Don’t you just hate those people?) We were talking about job stuff when she started questioning me as to the next steps I planned on taking in my career. I pondered this question for a second, before rambling off a list of attributes that I would like a job to have, and the particular skills I would like to use.  My friend stopped me. “Amber,” she said. “Those are not job titles. What title do you want to have?”
I told her I didn’t know.
She went into the whole “ What are your passions? Your goals? Your strengths” routine.
She even told me to take a moment to write these down.
I laughed.
Because I’ve been making that same, damn list for two years.

I told her that I had been there, and done that. She asked me what conclusion did I come to. Again I rambled off a list of characteristics. I could tell she was getting frustrated with me.  I was getting a little frustrated with her, honestly. I mean, it’s not like I had not already asked myself these same questions. Why couldn’t she accept my answers?   Then she said, “So…you don’t want a career…you just want a job?” And I said, “Hmm…I want meaningful experiences that I can make money from.”

That, people, is when the light bulb went off.

Finally, I got  it. No, I don’t want a set career, there is no set title I am aiming for, to me that means nothing. I want experiences I can be happy about, experiences that I can profit from, and experiences that leave me feeling as if I am making some type of difference in the world.

So what changed?
As I have continued to spend time working in environments that embody the spirit of ladder-climbing, I’ve grown stronger in my beliefs that it is okay to look for a life outside of the narrow confines of how our society determines what is “normal”, and what you should do.

There are some people out there who want to climb to the highest rungs of the corporate ladder, gathering accolades as they shimmy along. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, if that’s your thing.  But if that’s not your thing, if you’ve never really wanted a corner office, then guess what? That is okay too!

A career does not have to mean a set trajectory. For the so many people out there trying to figure it all out, and asking themselves daily, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” I say, stop it.  Let it go. You are not going to figure out tomorrow, or today what you want to do with the rest of your life. But, you can figure out what your next experience should be.  And if you are smart enough, which I know all of you ARE, then you will figure out how to profit from that experience. You will take the experience, embrace it, and embody it. You will effin’ own your experience. No ladder needed.

Now, the experiences that you string together may have titles.For example, one day I hope to be the creator and editor of an online magazine, but I harbor no illusions of thinking that will be the only experience for me, for the rest of my life.

It all goes back to not defining yourself by the job that you do. Embrace your uncertainty and run with it. If you happen to stumble upon something you think you can do for a while, hey, go for it! And be comforted in knowing that when you are ready for something new, it is totally possible. Live life and enjoy your experiences. Those are the things that will really shape you as a person.

Got something to add? I would love to hear it.
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Managing the Move Home

Despite all of the articles that come out calling Gen Y’ers “boomerang kids” and insisting that we flock to our parent’s houses in droves, we know the truth:  we really don’t want to return to the nest.  In fact, we’re usually hell-bent on not doing so…even when heading home might be in our best interest.

If it looks as if you will be homeward bound, relax. Although there will be some bumpy moments, anyone can navigate their time at home if you maintain a clear focus.  In 2008,  I moved back in with my Dad in Tennessee.   At times it was an exercise in patience. But looking back, I think I benefited a lot. It was a difficult time for me professionally (didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do), so it was great to have the support of my family and friends as I searched for purpose in my life.

If it looks like moving back in with your parents might be in your future, fear not.  Keep these three things in mind:

Put an expiration date on it
Before you make the move home, decide exactly how long you will be there, if you can. Do you need a year to work out your finances? Or, perhaps a job opportunity will give you some experience that will help you do what you really want to do, somewhere else. Think about how long it will take you to achieve your goal, then hold yourself to that timeline.

Remember the reasons
There will be days when the “living at home thing” is kinda frustrating. Whether you are moving home to save money to start your own business, or you want to take some time to think about your next career move, always keep your reasons a thought away. Create a vision board which can serve as a physical reminder of the goals you will achieve.

Behave like an adult
Your parents may still you as the little kid they lovingly raised, but you can’t allow yourself to slip back into the role you used to play. Respect your parents rules, but try your best to have open and honest conversations with them during the rough moments. Remember, nothing screams “don’t take me seriously” more than slamming doors, and heavens forbid, pouting. Keep in mind, you are a different person now than you were the last time you lived at home.

Have any ideas to add to the list?

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Push the Limits: How eliminating certain beliefs can help you move forward

On Friday I shared an exercise that had you examining the things you love and hate about your life. Today, I want to shed light on something that may be behind the things on your hate list: your own limiting beliefs.

Day 11 of the Happy Black Woman challenge lead us to examine some limiting beliefs we may have. The top three limiting beliefs most people have according to the ReCreate Your Life website ( I know, there really is such a thing) is:

-I’m not good enough
-I’m not important
-Mistakes and failure are bad

I believe limiting beliefs can be pretty simple, or they can run really deep.  All, I think have some type of connection with the list of three beliefs above. Let’s look back at some of the things on my list to see how my limiting beliefs are letting some of these “hates” survive in my life.

One of the things I said I hate is only semi being a part of my really good friends lives because I live so far away from them (they are in Tennessee, I am in NYC). What is the limiting belief I hold behind this? I don’t have enough time.  When I feel guilty about being out of the loop, I tell myself (and sometimes them) that it is because I don’t have enough time to talk to them.  I admit, living in New York can complicate communications with people outside of the city. But let’s analyze my limiting belief further.

I often feel as if I don’t have enough time to have an in-depth conversation with my friends. So what happens? I neglect to call them period.  Is it obvious how I am limiting myself?  I am telling myself that the way in which I can communicate with my friends is not good enough.  I’m only giving myself a limiting “all or nothing” option.

I am limiting myself by saying that I don’t have enough time to talk to my friends. While it is true that a lot of things demand my attention in NYC, making time, or finding time, rather, to talk to my friends is possible.  Once I let go of the belief that “I don’t have time” it frees me to start thinking creatively about how I can keep in touch with the people who are most important to me.

If I spent more time making short calls to people when I have a spare minute (the time I spend walking to and from the subway), I wouldn’t have to try to talk to someone for an hour or two to catch up because I would be more clued in to their lives.

One thing I might do is create a list of the people I most want to keep in touch with. Then I could pick two every Sunday whom I can call while I am doing boring Sunday tasks (folding clothes, cleaning the apartment).  I can text people and have a mini convo when I am busy. I can write on more Facebook walls. I can send post cards. I can do a lot once I eliminate the belief that there is only one way to communicate with my friends, and that all other methods are not good enough.

This is just one example of how finding the limiting beliefs that are holding you back, and actively eliminating them, can help you progress towards having more “loves” than “hates” on your list.

What beliefs are you harboring that could be limiting your progress toward leading a passionate and purposeful life?

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