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The BIG Picture & Honest Career Advice

Posted by | February 17, 2015 | Advice, Career

Via LinkedIn : I was attending a university alumni party being held on a rooftop of a ritzy club overlooking the beautiful streets of Prague. The party-goers were in formal attire, and the professors were speaking with their former students and listening to their stories. The night was crisp and the booze was plenty. I found myself in an interesting conversation about work life with recent grads and one professor. They were each taking turns explaining their new positions with slurs on their sharp tongues. Then one student began to express her own personal difficulty, I will always remember this night!

She spoke about an unfortunate sales position she took straight out of school; a job she thought had completely different responsibilities, but was falsely advertised. She was a terrible sales person and she received terrible pay. A job she said “monkeys could perform”.

The truth was, she was more upset about the fact she invested her parent’s hard earned money in her education, and now she was doing a job that she never intended to apply for and didn’t need a degree to do.

She was living month to month – a situation she described as the same she had as a student when her parents were footing the bills, only now it was her.

Six months after graduation, her standard of living hadn’t improved at all. It seemed worse than being a student – she was working without money to save, and her parents were unable to help her financially, she was stuck. What’s more, the debt collectors for her university loans would be going after her in one month. I felt for her. She described the days as increasingly more monotonous, and the four walls at work suffocating and gradually closing in to steal her “soul and creativity”. Everyone stood with their mouths gaping. The professor turned to her and candidly said,

“You need to have money. You see, this is a term used often at Harvard and Stanford university.”

He went on to describe how a person should always have money to support themselves in the worst of times; especially so that one day, if they can’t take the job anymore, they can walk away because they have money and financial freedom to do it. It was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard! After-all, it is your livelihood. In her case, she didn’t have the money built up to do that – but she would strive for that in the future from then on. The takeaway for her was to look for work while employed until she found a better position.

The other thing to remember, the current position you’re in doesn’t mean its your “end all”. It can be a stepping stone for something greater. Yes, looking for new work is a job in itself and risky, but if you’re doing something you hate, slowly conspiring with your colleagues or poisoning the work environment with your negativity, fantasizing of destroying the work supplies or beating up your boss, it’s time to leave! If you haven’t seen the movie Office Space, you should haha.

Career is a shifting staircase

We tend to look at our goals and career like the first image, but the reality is often the one illustrated below it. As my Mom used to tell me one of John Lennon’s most famous quotes “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. That’s so true! When you stop fretting over what you think should have been your chosen path, and open up your heart to new opportunities, events will occur naturally and take you to new heights.

Every path is the right one – it has lead you to where you are at the present moment through the life lessons of the past (hopefully you’ve learned from them so you can shape a better future). Sometimes we just fall into work positions and opportunities as life unfolds – and usually they are different than what we originally had intended altogether! And that’s perfectly fine and helps our self-development, and more often than not leads us to better things.

Some people have their lives all figured out and they know what they want to do from age 5, and do that. Others, like me, have a ton of interests and get taken by the moment and what’s happening right now. But, there comes a time when you know you’re in the right place.

The thing is, it’s not something that can be taught, it’s something you must feel. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some aspects that I’ve put together:

  • You enjoy your work and coming to work
  • There are chances to excel and advance
  • You feel valued and your ideas are entertained
  • You can improve your weaknesses and show off your strengths
  • You feel inspired, motivated, and supported
  • You’re happy with the pay

If you love what you do, you will never have to work another day in your life! If that doesn’t resonate with you, pursue something that does.

I hope you enjoyed this article. I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comment section.

About the author: Alexandria McCulloch is a copywriter and social media analyst at Socialbakers. She authors data-driven articles about social media marketing on the Socialbakers blog.

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