What’s the secret to career success?
I was recently asked what I wanted out of life. To answer the question, I wrote down a list of career goals. Here are just a few:
- Give a TED talk
- Write for Forbes
- Teach a class at General Assembly
- Coach millennials
- Launch a clothing line
- Found an education non-profit
- Lead guided tours in New York
- Operate a food truck
- Create online courses
- Publish an eBook
- Own a coffee shop
- Be an angel investor
As you can see, not all these items are related (if only you saw the full list). It spans a variety of industries (education, business, retail, tourism etc.) Some may say I lack focus, but having options is empowering. I don’t know if many of these pursuits will pan out, but I would regret not giving them a try. It is how one can ultimately reach career success, through experimentation. It’s not just thepath to career success, but also self-awareness and personal fulfillment.
Most things in life work a lot like trial and error. Your career is one of them. It’s only when you allow yourself to explore your interests that you’ll acquire a better sense of who you are and what you’d like to do for the rest of your life.
Success isn’t linear, especially for multi-passionate people. We have to let go of this idea that we can achieve our career goals by following a straight path (i.e. get a degree, find a job and become so rich you can do whatever you want and live happily ever after). Though this old model may work for a lot of people, it doesn’t guarantee career success or long-term happiness. You can work at Goldman Sachs after getting a master’s in investment banking and still not be successful or happy. If success is measured in numbers, then sure, but is personal fulfillment (an integral part of success) only a matter of living comfortably?
The truth is, most people rarely end up working in the field they studied in college. This is because somewhere along the way, life happens. They cultivate other interests, develop new skills or find quicker ways to make money. As someone with different abilities (otherwise known as a multi-potentialite), the path to success has never been more unclear. You’re not always sure which way to go or where to begin. To that I say, just start! Somewhere, anywhere.
You love making birthday cards and doing stand-up comedy? Start making them for your family and friends, gage their reaction and consider setting up an Etsy shop. At the same time, sign up for open mic nights and test how good you are at making people laugh. You have nothing to lose by giving both a try. Babysit on weekends or pick up two side jobs if you need to pay bills. If you see early signs of success from your creative pursuits and you’re still passionate about making cards and doing improv comedy, keep doing them! Otherwise, don’t be discouraged if they don’t work out or you’re not as into them anymore. You’ll find other ways.
When it comes to their career, most people forget they always have a choice. Risk it all while you still can. Experimenting will take you where you’re meant to be. It’s the only way to discover what you’re good at and your real passions. And when it’s all done, you’ll have reached fulfillment and learned from diverse experiences.
A major characteristic of the millennial generation is that we’re not afraid to embrace our singularity. We don’t feel the need to fit in as much and are confident in charting our own course. There exist so many more opportunities now to creatively design your career, you should not have to settle and sacrifice your dreams. You can still pay your bills and feed your passions. It takes real determination and a little preparation.
As Erica Jong puts it,
Think of your career as a trip to an unknown destination. Invest in the process and enjoy every moment of it! You might wake up in Mykonos!
Do you have the courage to do what you love?
PS: I’m curious to know what your career goals are. Feel free to share them in the comments!