Posts Tagged Encouragement

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.
Why?
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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The top three things that went incredibly RIGHT and incredibly WRONG in 2010: A personal review

My new years resolution in January of 2009 was to: “Read more, fear less, and make moves to create my life.” Some things haven’t changed. These are still my goals. As we head into the new year, I am asking myself, “What can I do to make it happen?”

I’m sure I’m not alone in this quest. But before I can decide on the areas I want to hone in on in 2011, first I need to recap 2010. Enter the annual personal review exercise. Over the past week I’ve been pondering what my life has been like this year. I’ve come to many conclusions, but the thing I want to share with you is I my list of the top three things that went incredibly, undeniably RIGHT this year; and the things that went really effin’ WRONG.

*drum roll please*

3 things that went incredibly right in 2010

#3. Launching this blog, The Fab Life Project
Creating this blog felt oh-so-right for many reasons. If you’ve been reading from the beginning, then you know that I had been wanting to start a blog for quite some time before I actually got around to it. I let a lot of things hold me back from getting my dream out of my head, and onto the net.

In July, I said, “f-it” and I went for it. Since then I’ve gained subscribers (if you aren’t subscribing, do it!) and have been told by a lot of people that they are feeling what I’m doing here. Knowing that I am motivating other people to get out there and create their fab life, makes me beyond happy. I’m joyful, folks! Joyful!  In 2011, I want to continue on my mission for creating a community for Gen Y’ers and making this THE resource for Gen Y’ers who want to build their world from scratch.

#2. Leaving the U.S.A. for the first time.
July was a busy month for me this year.  Right after I launched the blog, I launched myself to Lima, Peru for nine days. It. was. awesome! If you have never left your home country, please find a way to do it! Traveling allows you to find out so much about yourself. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. I can’t wait to travel again, and I can’t wait to make an announcement about exactly how it will happen!

And the number one thing that went right this year was….
Making it back to Tennessee in time to see the birth of my god-daughter. (BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.)
When my best friend told me she was pregnant with her third child, I promised I would make it home to see her have the baby. Because she is such a good friend, she never doubted that I would be there. And because I can be a pretty rational person, I spent nine months wondering how the hell I would pull it off. After all, I had a lot of factors in my way: I live in New York. I work a full-time job. And it’s impossible to predict the exact moment a baby will be born.

I scheduled two weeks off from work, but when D called me a week before my scheduled departure time to tell me that she was in labor, I panicked. And I gave up hope for a few hours. But that Friday morning I woke up with a new sense of determination. I knew I had to figure out a way to be there. One call to the airline later, and it was settled, I would be on my way to Tennessee the next day. There was still some panic about whether I would still miss the birth (I was scheduled to leave that Tuesday), but I did it! My god-daughter, Madyson, was born at 2:44 that Sunday. Watching a new life emerge into the world, put my life into perspective. It was an amazing day, and my number one moment of 2010.

I’m so tempted to end this post here, on a high note, but it would be a disservice not to give you my list of things that went astray in 2010.  No drum roll needed; just that breath you take right before you get into pondering something deep.

So, what went WRONG in 2010?

#3. Telling myself, “I can’t” a lot more than saying that “I can.”
I’ve caught myself saying this way too many times this year. Sometimes it was out loud, other times, in my head, but it happened too much for me to ignore that this was a huge failing point in my 2010. I’ve written about feeling stuck, and frustrated, and  I know these feelings have shaped my thoughts about what I can, and cannot do. But not anymore. No more ruling myself out. No more focusing on my perceived notions. I CAN DO whatever I put my mind too. Maybe I will strike out, but I would rather fail than never try.

#2. Allowing my 9-to-5 to take over my life.
There are many books written about work/life balance. There are the people who write extensively about achieving it, and there are the people who believe the idea of balance is total bullshit. I believe that when you looooove your job, you find balance because your job and your life are one. You’ve found the place where passion and purpose intersect.

I am not there yet. I am working on getting there.  But in the meantime, I have got leave my job stress at my desk. My new motto is, “If I can’t do something about it right now, then why waste time thinking about it?”  Also, I will stop internalizing work-deadline pressure. I will say openly that “I am only one person.” This isn’t self-defeating, it’s the truth. In a time where many people are doing the jobs of two, you need to remind yourself that you are only ONE person. Then step away from the cube. Hell, run away from the cube.

And the number one thing that went completely WRONG in 2010 was:
Not allowing other people to help me

It is very hard for me to ask for help. And now that I live in New York (where hospitality is hard to come by) asking for help has become even harder. I hate the idea of putting myself into a position where people can reject me, but sometimes you have to do so to move forward. Part of my pledge to “fear less” in 2011, is allowing myself to ask for help when I need it. And to not take it personally if things don’t go my way. Helping myself means trying. I. have. to. try.

I would love to know what went RIGHT for you in 2010, and what went WRONG. It’s a good place to start when you are making plans for the new year!

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Your 2010: A Personal Review

There are 10 days left in 2010.  This excites me. Why? Because I’m ready to commit to making some of my dreams come true in 2011.  But before I get into my dream chasing, I want to share an idea with you:  A Personal Year End Annual Review.

I first read about the idea of conducting a personal annual review on the Art of Nonconformity blog. Each year the author, Chris Guillebeau, literally goes into the woods for a week to evaluate his year. From personal matters to business strategies, Chris thinks about it all and asks himself what went well and what did not go well.

Now, I’m not suggesting you trek into the woods, but the idea of conducting an annual review is a good one.  As the year draws to a close, most people only think about the things they did not achieve.  We start flashing back to all of those resolutions we wrote down on January 1. Maybe you didn’t get a chance to get around to some of them, but I am sure you achieved plenty this year that you aren’t really giving yourself credit for.

Of course it is important to examine the things that did not go well this year, but the thing I like most about this exercise is that you are allowing yourself to find a balance between what you did well, and what you didn’t do well.

I’m going to conduct my assessment over the next few days and give you the break down on Thursday.  You should try it!

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