It was a very familiar conversation: I was chatting a girlfriend of mine over coffee about how frustrated she is with her career.
She’s in her mid-twenties, working as an administrative assistant … which, as she puts it, is really “a receptionist with benefits.”
“I feel kinda cheated,” she admitted. “I spent four years studying something totally different than what I’m doing now. I did not go to college to answer phones and emails all day.”
She sighed a familiar sigh: “Sometimes I’ll look for a new job, but I don’t even know what direction I want to go in. I feel like I’m not going anywhere.”
I felt the same way a few years ago: stuck. I felt like my college degree was going to waste and that I didn’t have control over where my career was going.
But then I took one small step to change that.
This one step, practiced for 30 minutes everyday, allowed me to quit my job, work for myself and follow my passion.
And I want you to be able to do the same.
Feeling Stuck? It’s Not Your Fault – You Just Need the Right System
“Is this it?”
I hear that question a lot from my 20-something friends about their careers. After 16 years of formal education, after finally getting that college degree, we get dropped on our asses into the real world without a clue of what to do next – or at least, that’s how I felt! :) And all of that education and preparation can feel like a let down if you’re stuck in a job that you’re not happy with.
After college graduation, the structure you’ve had all your life is removed. That’s a huge shock to the system. No one is there to tell you what to major in, what to study and what to do next. And that can feel confusing, scary and difficult to move forward.
But here’s the awesomely powerful news: how you learn and grow is now entirely up to you. And that means you can go anywhere.
Your education does not end after college. In fact, it’s just begun. And because you don’t have school telling you what to do, you have infinite options and possibilities. You can grow how you want and learn whatever you want - and you don’t have to take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to do it.
You get to decide where your career goes now.
And it starts with a simple commitment to invest a few minutes everyday in exploring and developing your passion.
The 30-Minute Daily Exercise I Used to Take Control of My Career and Quit My Job
About a year ago, I was fed up with my career direction. I felt like my work was getting stale and I wasn’t growing intellectually or professionally. I applied to a few new jobs here and there, but I didn’t feel like I was going anywhere.
Then one day, I realized that I had infinite options beyond the positions listed on the jobs board. My career direction wasn’t tied to my next job. I realized that I had the freedom and direction to make my career into what I wanted it to be.
I already had a general sens of what I wanted to do: I could talk for hours with friends about career and money, and I wanted to share that with the world. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I had something to say.
About a year and a half ago, I started The Empowered Dollar. Even though I was working crazy hours at my day job, I knew this was a piece of my career narrative that I wanted to build. And I knew I would always make excuses about time if I didn’t make a commitment to doing something about it everyday.
I also didn’t know the first thing about web design. I had to get over that excuse pretty quickly, so I paid someone to build my site for me. But from there, I had no more excuses.
I made a personal commitment to invest 30 minutes daily to a project I cared about. No excuses.
Everyday, I set aside just a half hour to writing and blogging. At first, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to write about; I just knew that I had to just get started. I wanted to allow myself to figure out my passion as I worked.
And through that process of finding my voice and exploring what I cared about, a lovely blog was born But more importantly, I had given myself room to discover and create my new career. I realized that I loved talking about the psychology and emotions behind money and I loved being voice and a resource for an entire generation of indebted college grads.
I would have never discovered that without practicing and exploring every day.
It wasn’t until a few days ago that I could really see the rewards of my 30-minute daily investment over the last year and a half.
My 30-Minute Investment Paid Awesome Dividends
Last week, I attended the St. Louis to the Financial Blogger Conference (affectionately known as FinCon). And I realized how much my hard work each day paid off.
I had people high-fiving me in the hallway because they read the blog and knew I had just quit my job. I got interviewed by Experian about my thoughts on Student Loans Crisis. And I even won the award for Best New Personal Finance Blog.
It was a good feeling
It wasn’t luck that got me there. It wasn’t even my credentials (I have no formal training in personal finance or financial education).
It was my 30-minutes-a-day commitment to investing in myself and my career. That small investment over the course of a year added up, helped me build a blog I love and let me start my new career.
And you can do the same with a single, powerful commitment.
Are you willing to make a 30-minute commitment to yourself?
Write, blog, paint, knit, cook, read, research, compose, sing, learn a new skill – whatever you want to do in that 30 minutes, the possibilities are endless. Explore your talents for just a half hour each day. And if you don’t know what your talents are, this is a beautiful, sacred space to discover something new.
As you begin to invest in yourself and take control of your career, keep these things in mind:
1) You are a collection of multiple talents, interests and passions. You are not your job title and you are allowed to push beyond the boundaries of what you’ve been assigned.
2) You do not need to know what you want to do in life to make a change. Use your 30-minutes a day to explore information and articles that make you feel alive. Talk to new people, build new skills, explore.
3) It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. If you feel unchallenged by your 9-5 job, taking a step to learn on your own may feel weird. It’s normal. It’s also okay to fail. It’s okay to start a class on coding and realize that it’s just not meant for you. Just commit to trying and giving it your all.
One small commitment of at least 30 minutes every day can lead to a lifetime of change.
Are you ready to take control of your career and your life?