What I Learned From Doing a One-Month Rejection Challenge

Whether it’s in our professional (for a job or for a promotion) or personal life (by our significant other or a prospect), being rejected sucks. It’s hard not to take it personally because it puts our ego on the line. My, mine’s been bruised so many times I’ve lost count! Hate it or love it, it’s an inevitable part of growing up.

I used to get frustrated when someone would tell me no, especially when their reason didn’t make sense to me. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to know why, and other times, you just have to carry on without closure. People say no for different reasons and it’s healthier to focus on the only thing we can control – our reaction.

Rejection challenge

So, I’ve learned how to deal with the word no through a one-month rejection challenge. Basically, I intentionally put myself in situations where people were likely to reject me. For four weeks, I did something outside of my comfort zone that forced me to go talk to people.

Week 1 – I invited strangers out for coffee.

Week 2 – I volunteered to speak at a workshop in front of a big crowd

Week 3- I asked my network for help

and

Week 4 – I competed in a poetry slam.

The outcome? 2-3 people accepted my invite. The audience at the workshop was really supportive and gave me some great feedback. Most people in my network didn’t end up helping me, but a few of them did, and I didn’t win first place in the poetry slam but made some great friends that night.

Here are 3 important lessons I learned from doing this one-month rejection challenge:

There is ALWAYS a silver lining

I wanted to win first place at the poetry slam, but that night, I gained something much more valuable – public speaking skills and a few more people in my network. You’ve heard the cliche, “When a door closes, another one opens” and probably rolled your eyes at it, but it’s true. Sometimes, you work hard for something only to find out it’s not what you really want. Your dream company might not end up being the right cultural fit after all and that’s okay. The important thing is to learn to look on the bright side because there is always a silver lining. ALWAYS. Even when it doesn’t immediately manifest, it’s still there. Also, just because it’s not something tangible (say a job, an opportunity etc.) doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable. Self-awareness is key and every experience – at the very least – serves the purpose of providing more of that.

Help is always within reach – an email or call away

After doing the rejection challenge, I realized that I used to underestimate how much people were willing top help. Truth is, receiving help is simply a matter of asking. You might feel weird about it like you’re bothering them, but it can be worth the interruption. You might find that you’re not alone in a particular situation. At any point in time, there’s always a community of people experiencing the same difficulties as you and coming together usually just takes one person reaching out. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If someone says no, chances are, four other people will say yes. You just have to find them.

Take it from me, I used to waste time thinking of multiple ways to solve a problem – when teaming up with someone would’ve been more efficient. Be willing to contribute to other people’s growth too. Just remember, together is always stronger than alone.

Rejection is rarely personal

You might kill yourself trying to figure out why you didn’t get a job – thinking maybe you shouldn’t have worn that blazer to the interview or shouldn’t have asked that question – when the company could have just not had the budget for it anymore. People are weird. They harbor biases and fears that influence the way they interact with others. And this is why you shouldn’t assume every rejection is your fault. This attitude can not only damage your self-esteem, but it can make it harder to deal with the many instances of rejection.

Sure, you can think about what you’ll do better next time, but just know that rejection often has to do with factors outside of your control. So it’s best to focus on your circle of influence (as Stephen Covey from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People would say) – your thoughts, attitudes and actions.

Doing the rejection challenge was an incredible learning experience. Truth is, it was more about me building up the confidence to put myself out there than it was about these people’s reactions. It desensitized me to the effect of the word no. I used to hate it, but now it’s my motivation.

So, are you up for a challenge?

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How to Find What Connects All Your Passions

Being a multipotentialite can make you feel paralyzed at times. The ability to do many different things, the passion for a variety of subjects and the fear of missing out can all act as detractors to your genius. Integrating your different passions and interests into a meaningful career path can seem like an impossible task.

If you’re like any other multi-passionate creative, the following scenario should be familiar. You start a project and get really excited about it. Then you think of a few other things and start to feel overwhelmed because you don’t know how to distribute your time or what’s even worth allocating time to. Analysis paralysis sets in and you start to wish you weren’t so different.

Being a multipotentialite is nothing to feel guilty about. On one hand you will always have options, but on the other, you might feel like you’re not effectively using your potential because you’re interested in almost everything. But believe it or not, there’s an overarching theme in all your passions. Finding that point of intersection can help bring everything together and give you a better sense of direction.
Here are three questions to ask yourself in order to figure out where all your passions connect:

How do I want to impact the world?

You can think about this in different ways. What causes do you care about? Alleviating poverty? Increasing literacy? Protecting the environment? At the end of your life, how would you want to be remembered? How can you use your skills to get to that point?
There are two types of multipotentialites: the ones who can do different things within a particular field and the ones who juggle projects in unrelated domains.
Suppose you’re a psychotherapist who helps young adults face the hurdles of growing up. On top of your full-time job, you have a podcast, blog and YouTube channel, and also host workshops where you share what you know in a digestible way. If we take a closer look at all your gigs, the overarching theme is helping people. How are you doing that? Mostly through education. This tells us how you want to be remembered. As someone who positively impacted people’s lives. Keeping the end in mind helps make sense of the process.
Now, imagine you’re an architect, guitar player and standup comedian. Harder to figure out what connects these interests right? The overarching theme could be that you’re most passionate about delighting people. Whether you give aesthetic pleasure through your architectural designs, stimulate the brain through your compositions and making people laugh with your jokes.
As long as your activities are connected to your overarching goal, they don’t have to make sense to people. The important thing is to do some soul searching and really figure out what matters to you. Don’t worry about people not understanding your dreams or naysayers discrediting your process. You owe it to yourself to pursue everything that gets you fired up.

What can I not live without doing?

For me, the answer is reading and writing. When I read, I’m inspired to keep producing. Even when I was taking science classes in college, I always made sure to add a creative writing class to stimulate that other side of me.
Being aware of what you can’t do without is important in prioritizing. It also allows you to incorporate that into everything you do. Whether I’m taking pictures or producing videos, I know I’m still telling stories. It might be my overarching theme, but it’s what brings everything together for me.
Think about activities that always somehow find their way into your day to day. They may be things you do on your free time and that you also do to some extent at work or for your side hustles. They will tell you more about who you are than anything else.

Will this bring me closer to my long-term vision in a few years?

You only have so many hours in the day, so it’s important to get the most out of all them. Over time, I’ve learned to be selective with the responsibilities I take on. I’d say passion is the most deciding factor, but there’s also the question of what’s in it for me. If a job will not contribute to my life in any other way than monetary, I’ll usually go for something more meaningful. Similarly, I get a lot of ideas but I can’t physically pursue all of them because I’ll only be interested in some for a very short time.
If your big goal is to become the editor-in-chief of a digital magazine, the following are all things that can take you closer to it over time:
a. Starting a blog (because you’ll get the hands-on experience of creating content, managing a team of writers etc.)
b. Work at a magazine (because you’ll see the ins and outs of what that’s really like)
c. Freelance write for digital publications (for the network and skill set)
d. Take a coding class (because some technical knowledge can never hurt)
I could go on, but the point is to become more intentional about the things you allocate your time to. Ask yourself how important it is and if it’ll continue to matter then go full throttle in the direction of your goals.
Being multi-passionate isn’t always easy to manage. You’re constantly reinventing yourself or learning more about what’s really important to you. But some regular soul searching should make the journey easier.

What’s the overarching theme behind all your passions? Let me know in the comments!

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How to Cope With a Job You Hate

We’ve all been there. We hate our job, but we need money. How to cope with a job you hate, but that pays the bills? Is that even possible?

My worst job so far has been a marketing internship at an accounting firm. I was getting paid $18/hour to stand by a printer all day and make folders. I knew I was overqualified, but I needed to pay off my credit card and save. That only lasted for a month and I remember feeling so relieved when I walked out of the building.

This experience taught me what it’s like to make sacrifices when you need money. I welcomed every Monday like:

how to cope with a job you hate

If you repeatedly find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. Studies show that nearly 71% of millennials aren’t satisfied with their job and will keep looking until they find the right opportunity. I’ve been one of them.

We all dream of having a job that makes us look forward to Monday. But life happens and sometimes, we have to make choices that solve our short-term problems. Maybe you have to take care of your family or pay your student loans. Whatever the case may be, you sometimes have to do things you don’t enjoy for money – that usually means having jobs you hate.

Many factors contribute to job satisfaction. Beyond your responsibilities and compensation, your colleagues, work environment and growth opportunities are also important. Here’s how to cope with a job you hate, but need to pay your bills:

Find something to look forward to every day

how to cope with a job you hate

When I was at the accounting firm, I’d make plans to catch up with friends over lunch or go to networking events. I’d also get excited to watch House of Cards during my lunch break. These were small moments that made a big difference in my overall attitude. One would see me smile thinking it was for work when it was really about that new restaurant I’d go try out with my friend after.

Create your “yay” moment in each day. When you’re excited about something, you feel more energetic and it makes the workday bearable.

Exercise in the morning

Morning stretch

Even if the first thing you do when you wake up is check your social media profiles, stretch your legs or your upper body while you’re at it.A simple 5-10 minute routine can be all you need to take on the day.

You’ve probably heard this one before, but I can’t stress how much impact exercise has on your mental and physical state. It not only boosts your energy, but the evidence suggests exercise also helps cope with stress at work. Sure, you can check your inbox as soon as you wake up, but don’t underestimate what these 20 push-ups can do.

Network aggressively

how to cope with a job you hate

Whether you found your dream job or are still looking, you should always be networking. It’s not just a means to an end, but a unique opportunity to stay up-to-date with industry news, build lifetime relationships and continue to grow.

How does networking help you cope with a job you hate? It establishes the connections that will enable you to make your next career move. These are the people you’ll be able to reach out to and comfortably ask for leads or job referrals. Given that as many as 80% of jobs aren’t advertised online, it’s all about networking!

Remember your WHY

how to cope with a job you hate

In an earlier post I wrote, “No time is ever wasted on things you do with intention.” I still stand behind this. Whether your current job is helping you feed your family or save for that vacation in Peru, it serves a purpose.

It’s easy to forget why you’re doing something because of the day-to-day hassles, but keeping an eye on the prize will push you to work harder. It’s also important to remember that everything is temporary. Your life will change dramatically in the next few years (or months even) and you will not be stuck in one place unless you choose to. Think long-term. Stay focused. Defend your WHY.

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The Secret to Career Success No One Tells You About

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:

  1. Give a TED talk
  2. Write for Forbes
  3. Teach a class at General Assembly
  4. Coach millennials
  5. Launch a clothing line
  6. Found an education non-profit
  7. Lead guided tours in New York
  8. Operate a food truck
  9. Create online courses
  10. Publish an eBook
  11. Own a coffee shop
  12. 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?  

Related: Here’s How You Can Turn Your Passion Into a Dream Career

PS: I’m curious to know what your career goals are. Feel free to share them in the comments!