So, how’s your career going? Be honest. Are you doing something you’ve always dreamt of doing? If so, NICE. That’s not easy.
OR – Are you someone who’s working in a position that makes you feel like crap every day? Perhaps your waking up with that flattening feeling of being stuck doing something that pays the bills, but doesn’t in any way speak to YOU as a person. It doesn’t align with your passions, your skills or even your ideas.
If you’re more like the latter, then maybe it’s time to re-evaulate your career. Just because you are doing what everyone else expects, or even working a job that pays pretty well, you still might not feel good about it. I’m not talking about a bad boss or annoying co-workers, I’m talking about a job that you know deep down is sucking the life out of you.
Maybe it’s time for a change. You might not know it yet, but you have the ability to wiggle your way into a career that you can truly feel good about each day, without losing your work ethic or even your pride. Keep reading.
If you feel like a negative cliché for wanting to be an influencer, or a freelance photographer, or have the time to work from anywhere in the world, you’re not alone. Millennials nowadays are often being deemed reckless with their careers, in articles like the ones below:
This generation is either brave or stupid, but rarely anything in between. So why is that? Why is it that our career standards are either praised or insulted? Why are we called creative but lazy? If you think about it carefully, the difference between how our generation feels about a career path compared to how our parent’s felt, is simply the growth of technology and a loss of financial confidence.
In the 80s, sites like Upwork.com and Weworkremotely.com, didn’t exist. Our parents didn’t have the luxury of being choosey with their careers. Unless they stuck with what their 18-year-old selves decided, they were SOL. But to them, sticking to your commitments, pushing through the difficulty, and holding your ground for that retirement account was more important than feeling good about your job.
I’m not saying that retirement isn’t important. If you know me at all, you know I’m obsessed with setting my older self and family-to-be up for success. But what I’ve quickly learned, is that we millennials do not value working hard less than previous generations, we simply value the dollar a bit differently. What used to matter, now doesn’t seem attainable. Take buying a home. For most of us, it seems impossible at this stage. For instance, in 1980, the baby boomer generation paid a average of $76,400 for a home in the U.S. Today, the average cost for a home in the U.S. is $363,300, according to cencus.gov. So if buying a home not going to be affordable until we’re 60, why would we bother wanting it now?
Not only do we think we’ll never own a home, but we’re kicking off our career deep in debt. We imagine our poor grandkids will probably have to inherit our student loan debt because we sure as hell aren’t going to be able to pay it off. Student’s today are expected to pay an average of $37,000 each, and thats on the low end. Some students have hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay back… an beginning this year, some loans will include an average 5.05% interest rate. It’s no wonder that many of us throw our hands in the air and say, “f*** it.”
If you’re reading this going, “yep, that’s me” you’re in the right place. Many of us are living with this subtle doom, that no matter what, we’ll always be digging ourselves out. So what do we do about it? We make the best salary we can and try to live it up while we’re younger because God knows we’d rather live in the moment than continue treading water just to reduce the debt.
I’m definitely that person. Someone who’s spent their career fighting for a job I can feel proud of, and one that will allow me to do what I love most: travel. I knew exactly what I wanted, so I did my research, learned how to create a nice resume, and applied to the best TV network I knew: Discovery Channel. After somehow getting an internship in tv development, I got hired six months later. And of course, before I knew it my boss was leaving the company and I had to scramble for the next best gig.
So after going from network to network, I finally landed a traveling job with Yoga Journal. Dream job: check.
But what happened when it ended? It was only a six month job, so what was I to do afterward? Was I to go work in a cubicle? Try to mash my creative skills into some predetermined job description and hope I don’t hate my job? In that moment, I hit a turning point. I had to decide to either risk being miserable at some desk job or work my ass off to get a freelance job that fit what I valued most. I think you can guess what happened next.
I didn’t give up. I emailed about 132 companies in the Seattle area and told them exactly what they could do differently on their social media pages to get a better ROI and cultivate stronger quality leads. This was the most tedious thing I think I’d ever done. But I was so hell bent on never working in a cubicle, that I didn’t care how long it took, the odds of getting a response were better and better with every email I sent.
After about 20 emails saying “no thanks” and the rest were utter silence, I finally got a job as a social media manager for a travel company. What was better? I could work remotely and be creative and strategic. Well, when your client doesn’t believe in paid media, things get tough. There are too many eyeballs online to expect growth organically, no matter how good your content is.
After my three month contract ended, I changed my approach and began traditionally applying to jobs in the Seattle area. I reached out to everyone I knew and hoped someone had something that sounded good. Truth be told, it didn’t work.
So again, I had to change my approach. You must be noticing a pattern here. I changed my approach so many times, applied to different jobs in different ways, emailed companies directly, edited my resume, did video applications, you name it, I tried it. I tried so many approaches until I landed a position that allowed me to travel, to hold myself responsible for my own work and to produce national television commercials… from my home town. Boom.
But what does this all have to do with you? It’s an outline of the steps you can take to change your situation and feel proud of the direction your going.
How to begin:
- Get clear on what exactly you want (most people have no idea and never figure it out)
- Take massive action (MASSIVE, not passive)
- Change your approach (1,000 times if you have to)
The biggest difficulty here is getting clear on what you want. If you don’t know what you really want, if you can’t see it clear as day in your head, then you’ll be puttering around grabbing at nothing. This is VITAL for success. You shouldn’t say, “I guess I’m good at X” or “I like Y, that might work.” NO NO NO. That’s not a decision that’s called settling and being indecisive. Write SOMETHING down until you have a strict and stable decision made. Don’t forget: what you want in life can change, but be VERY clear on how and what is changing and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Remember, switching to a freelance job or finding a new career is WAY easier when you already have a job paying the bills. It doesn’t have to be some high status job, you could bus tables, just keep yourself floating while you take the time to figure out what it is that you really want. You might have to spend nights working long after you get off work to accomplish this, but it’s truly worth it. (Just grab a glass of wine and make it fun.) Use websites like Upwork.com and send 100 proposals until you get a response. Find out what you’re good at and market it properly. Eventually, (probably sooner than you think) you’ll get a request for an interview and you’re off to the races.
My final advice: take your time. If you hop into a job that you didn’t truly take ample nights to consider, but one that sounded good from a distance, you’ll be right back where you were before. Don’t be afraid to take a lower salary (or hourly rate) initially. Get another job to balance out your finances for the time being. Also, don’t be too proud to hustle. I have worked a total of 13 jobs in the past 6 months, all while having an (highly demanding) full time job.
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