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What I Wish I Knew About Choosing a Life Direction Before Adulthood



What I Wish I Knew About Choosing a Direction Before Adulthood

As a recent college graduate, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced has been identifying and sticking with a career that really resonates with my character. I constantly meet other new college graduates who feel the same way and are working at jobs that they don’t feel authentically connected to. The societal pressure to complete a degree program in order to be socially accepted as “on path” can often mislead students to pursuing careers and opportunities that aren’t aligned with their values or innate abilities. In the process, we get lost and caught up in the fear of not being successful and choose the “safe” or “realistic” route only to later be disappointed. Below are things that I’ve learned along the way that have helped steer me towards an authentically-led life that allows for true satisfaction and fulfillment.

What I Wish I Knew About Choosing a Life Direction Before Adulthood

Listen to Your Discomfort

The first step towards learning how to select a fulfilling career is to realize that deep discontent and doubt are indications of a necessary life change that needs to take place. Listening to strong and persistent feelings of doubt(instead of ignoring it) can help you to break through any hidden illusions that are driving you along an inauthentic path. So put yourself through the internal scrutiny and trust your gut. Despite what you may tell yourself, there is always time to change your present course. Soul-sucking jobs will be there in the future if you end up needing a lifeline, but if you avoid your internal conflict in order to continue sticking with what feels comfortable and safe, then nothing has been solved, and you’ll stay stuck where many people waste away.


Degrees Don’t Define You

Your degree does not define you, and may be less limiting than you think. The key is, don’t believe that you’re trapped in a box. Make sure to include all transferrable skills in your resume targeted towards the specific position you are interested in, take a risk, and apply!Before working in accounting, and now public relations, I majored in environmental science and was employed in jobs ranging from engineering, microbiology, biotech, and wine sales.I’ve learned something about myself in each job, and this happened because I learned to take the chance (instead of limiting myself) and to apply for various types of jobs I wanted to explore.


Seeking Help is Not Weakness

Sometimes we need guidance and a source of inspiration in order to make meaningful change. It all starts with how we view ourselves and the world around us. I’ve realized that talking to someone like a close friend, or professional like a therapist or life coach can act as a catalyst to make important life changes and stick with them. While working with a life coach, I learned that although I am a creative person,I was choosing possible career paths that required more rote-based, rather than creative work; thus, I had been choosing jobs that go against my natural strengths and abilities, which led to a demoralizing sense of failure. Through lots of conversation and encouragement, I have been able to reframe my thoughts of failure from, “What’s wrong with me?” into a more accurate and useful appraisal, “This job is not a good fit for me, so I’ll work towards choosing something that is.” Seek help and change your inner narrative.


Your Strengths Matter

Find your strengths and embrace them. Some great resources I’ve utilized have been the book “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath as well as the Myer’s Briggs test. These have helped me identify my personality type and abilities and have guided me towards work that fits who I am.Personally, I’ve found that I’m introverted, creative, idealistic, and value harmony amongst people.  I find that working in jobs shrouded with tedium, details, bureaucracy and high pressure are unbearable. I feel most energized when creating music, writing, and designing websites or graphics. Find what energizes and inspires you. Take a personality test and compare your results with the characteristics of a potential job to see if what you are pursuing is a good fit.

Experimenting is Important

If you have no clue what you want to do for a career, experiment with as many other jobs, hobbies, classes, activities or ideas as you can. Often times our expectations about what we think a job is like are not entirely rooted in reality, and can be clarified with deep experiential research and experimentation. Want to know how it feels to be a web designer? Find a free course online and see if it excites you. Then talk to people in the profession and even shadow them if it’s allowed at their workplace. I recently toured the facilities of Dropbox with one of my friends in San Francisco to experience what working at a successful startup was like. It was awesome, to say the least! These experiences will give you better exposure to other kinds of work environments and what it is really like on a day-to-day basis. In the process you’ll find what you do or don’t like about the profession, people or work culture.


Failing is Progress

Many times you’ll find that your plans don’t pan out like you imagined, and it’s tempting to view this as failure. Something you’ll need to accept is that you will fail and that failure can be used to help make progress towards something better. What failure does is guide us towards making the right decisions while learning how to stop choosing the “wrong” ones.  If we take on jobs that we are either terrible at or get fired from, it doesn’t mean that there is something innately wrong with us. It simply means that the path we chose wasn’t meant for us, and it’s time to try something else that’s more in alignment with who we really are. When you fail, it’s critical that you see it as a learning opportunity, and remember that much of life is “trial and error.”Eventually you’ll find something you will succeed in.


There is No Perfect Career

Nothing is ever perfect. I’ve spoken to plenty of people who claim to be in their ideal career who still find some aspects of their work displeasing. You’ll come across this with any position – just accept that not everything will resonate with you and that’s ok.  The goal is to find work that has more pros than cons and gives you a strong feeling of contentment.Also, the idea that there is only one job suited for any particular person is misleading. There are many people who either work multiple part-time positions or work for themselves outside of the company-employee model.Open to the possibility of working outside of what is “normal” and expected.

Success is Arbitrary

Chasing careers for their high salaries and prestige often leads us feeling frustrated and miserable. Success shouldn’t be measured by the amount of dollars in your bank account or job titles. Success is really about feeling fulfillment in whatever you pursue. You have more potential for success than you realize. Thanks to the Internet Age, there are many resources you can capitalize on to find the information you need to take your first step towards change.  It may take time, even years, but the sooner you commit, the sooner you’ll feel satisfied about your direction in life. Stop doubting yourself and conforming to other people’s ideas about what a successful life is. Forget what is normal or comfortable. Jump off the deep end; get lost, find yourself again and take a risk. Even if you fail you’ll still be better off than becoming stuck later on, wondering, “what if?”

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Can You Receive A Compliment Without It Getting To Your Head?



a compliment (1)

Receiving compliments gracefully isn’t as easy as it should be for some people. How about you: are YOU ready for someone to give you a pat on the back? To be pushed to doing more? To have someone give you a supporting hand? To be picked up when you fall down?

Sure, we may think that’s what we want. But is it what we need to develop, to grow, and to get better?

If someone complimented you on every little improvement you made while learning a new skill, would you not start to feel a bit marginalized? That perhaps they didn’t really think you could do it? What about when you do something that seems pretty easy and everyone made it into a big deal?


Receiving Compliments When You Are Not Ready For It

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

Developing new skills is never free of trouble. We all know the level of foundation that must be built to get from being a novice, before reaching greatness. In the learning process, we all know when we are in that frustrating stage of not being quite as good – but we know what we have to do to get there.

It’s in these moments that receiving compliments on your every action could minimize your efforts. That’s because if they truly knew you, people would be holding out for when you make that big, defining leap. 

As we overcome hurdles in our learning and development, friends, family members, and colleagues will know when the time is right to provide encouragement. They know that when that moment comes, those words will have the right amount of impact on you.

Think back to when you were growing up, playing some elaborate game. Perhaps you spent hours creating this game: building a fort, putting together things that the rest of your characters in the play could use. You pushed through despite the trials and problems.

It would have served absolutely no purpose for someone to congratulate you on every step (and misstep) along the way.  You would have lost your flow as you worked through the problem, constantly being interrupted – all while you were still trying to figure it out and understand where you needed to go.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments


When Receiving Compliments Makes You Content with Present Achievements

You might never have finished if someone patted you on the back early in that moment, content in the knowledge that you “thought up” the idea and that was enough. If everyone was saying you did great simply for thinking up something new, would it have compelled you to stop?

Maybe. Perhaps you would have stopped with that compliment.

As a parent, you learn when to encourage your children. Usually, it’s not when they show up, and not when they do what kids around them are able to do as well. It’s when they push themselves to do more. When they pick themselves up and still lose, when they try something new for the first time, fall over and fail, not sure if they should do it again.

Those are the moments when kids should be receiving compliments – NOT when they have done the same thing over and over again, or when they didn’t try their best but won anyways.

Kids know this. They can feel it when people give false compliments or encouragement because they did something they’ve always done. But when it is something meaningful, something they have worked hard for, they know the encouragement will be there to help them.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

The reason you might not be receiving compliments or encouragement when you want to is because you haven’t earned them or don’t deserve them yet.

Maybe your coaches, leaders, parents, or other people who support you know you are not ready for it. Perhaps they need to see you making that next big leap in your growth and development.

Those compliments might not come today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But look at those around you – the great people you have chosen to surround yourself with – and you’ll see that they are waiting to give you that push. They are waiting for you to make it happen.

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3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart




when your dreams are falling apart (1)

I truly believe that dreams must extend beyond wishes of self-improvement; that its goal should be to contribute to the world around you.

The heart is a fickle thing. Imagine how many amazing things wouldn’t have been accomplished if great minds simply stopped when they “didn’t feel like it”.

It’s human nature. I’m sure that during the course of over 300 bank rejections, Walt Disney had days when he felt like giving up. But he didn’t. He kept going. Why? It was because his dream went far beyond himself.

Here’s how YOU can keep going – even if it feels like your dreams are falling apart.


3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

1.) Remember The “Why”

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

Often times, I find that dreams extend far beyond the simple purpose of making one happy. For example, being a songwriter in and of itself does not make me feel happy and fulfilled. Imagine if my life’s work was to write songs that no one would ever hear. That doesn’t elicit any feelings of happiness or fulfillment (at least to me).

Seeing and hearing the healing effects that come from the songs I create for others to hear? Now you’re talking. Healing and helping others is the part of my dream that keeps it alive. It gives me purpose in this world that goes far beyond myself and my skills.

I’m reminded of the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Scrooge’s goal in life was to have money – and lots of it. He set aside love and relationships for that dream. The result of this life goal was a lonely, cold, bitter old man.

I won’t ruin the whole story for the very few of you that may not have heard it. In the end, Scrooge discovered that what brought him fulfillment and happiness were community and generosity.

So what is the “why” to your dream? How is your dream going to affect those around you? Get beyond yourself. As many have said, YOU are your biggest obstacle to success.


2.) Take Off The Rose-Colored Glasses

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

You know what I’m talking about. The “I’m going to make it big” and “I’m going to famous/rich/etc.” I hate to take a pointy realistic needle to your big ideas, but I’m doing it out of love. Here it is:

Your dream isn’t going to look exactly how you pictured it.

Take a minute to take that one in. Still here? Yes. Alive? Yes. Not Bleeding? No? Hurt a bit?

It’s OK. I know. I’ve been there. Dreams are vulnerable. We spend countless hours imagining what it would be like and how we will get there. But the truth is, in my experience, they have never turned out exactly how I have imagined. Why? We live in a world of people and circumstances that we can’t control.

Here is where the “why” comes in. The beautiful thing is that your works are a direct result of your heart’s intention…and what you put out into the world never comes back void. Here’s an example:

As a singer-songwriter, the common idea of making it big for my line of work is to have a hit song or perform in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden (I’m more inclined towards Red Rock Amphitheatre, but you get the picture).

Let’s say that I work and strive tirelessly to do everything I need to do to reach that goal. I release a song, I tour around the US, develop a large following, get on the radio, etc. Along the way, I hear stories of how this song has impacted the people who have heard it. Stories describing how it brought healing, encouragement, and hope.

To go further, what if I never even make it that far? What if circumstances happen and I can’t tour? What if everything “falls apart”? What if I end up playing at open mics for the rest of my life? What if it doesn’t happen in the next year? Two years?

Does that change the fact that my song helped heal and open the heart of a broken and depressed Vietnam Vet? Or how it helped encourage an author to keep going and writing? Or how my song started a conversation on how to look past the labels overshadowing soldiers and their families?

It’s all about your perspective of success, my friend. To me, because my “why” and my heart’s intention are to help people, those stories above are my version of success. It’s what keeps me going. If I get to Madison Square Garden (or Red Rocks), well that’s just icing on top of the cake.

Keep going on your dream. Make a plan, and in the words of .38 Special, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” Roll with the punches and understand that even greater things can come when things don’t go according to your plan.


3.) Make Your Dream Your Job

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

No, I don’t mean quit your job and have no income while you work on your dream. That’s an entirely different article (and completely up to you). I’m talking about treating your dream like it is your job.

For example, if you completely failed at a presentation at work, would you just quit and not go the next day? No! You have a livelihood and an expectation to show up. So why quit on your dream at the first sign of failure?

Treat your dream like your job. Make a plan, show up every day, and understand that it may take a while to see any results. I know many songwriters who wrote hundreds of songs before they wrote a hit. However, they never would have reached it if they didn’t take that first step, made a commitment, and wrote 100 songs first.

Dreams don’t just happen. They take work. So go get started!

My best advice under this theme is check out the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It is by far the best resource I have discovered in my journey of living out my dream.

Here’s the deal. With every goal that I have set and achieved, I never sat at the end and thought to myself, “man, look at what I did”. Believe it or not, I was more overwhelmed with the thoughts of the journey that I had to take to get there – the good and the bad.

I would admire and laugh at the unexpected things that came. I would smile and enjoy the character it built, the person that I became in the process. In the end, the best thing about dreams and goals isn’t their achievement, but the journey that you take to get there.

Never forget that the dream in your heart was put there for a reason. You were made to make an impact on this world.

Enjoy the journey and never, ever give up. Keep going.

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