I’m on my 4th job since graduating in June 2010. So yeah…compared to most of the people I graduated with, I’ve had an extremely unconventional career thus far. In short, I look like a Mexican jumping bean.
When I ask a good portion of my classmates what the plan is, I often hear a familiar ring: “I’m going to spend two years banking/consulting, than go to a private equity/hedge fund, than go to business school…than some day I’m going to be happy in Greenwich Connecticut!”
That sounds exciting and fulfilling.
At one point during my undergraduate years this sounded pretty good. But my benchmark of good was everyone else in an atmosphere where the blind followed the blind. Looking back, its strange to think I’ve pretty much done the opposite of what every career counselor and traditional parent asserted. “Stay at a job for two at least two year. Work your way up the food chain.” After all, future employers want to have confidence that you’ll give up at least 2 years. Even if you’re miserable!
At times it seems like young people are celebrated for enduring misery early in their careers. I don’t get it.
I guess I’ve just never been one to wait for something and have been blessed with the good fortune to take chances. Contrary to what everyone used to tell me, I feel this path has served me well.
Make no mistake, shooting from the hip like I have has made the past year and a half a roller coaster. And we’re not talking a shiny new steel one that pops up at six flags every other summer. We’re talking more of an old wooden one where the white paint is chipping off.
I’ve slept in offices, changed industries, tried to start a company, lived pay check to pay check, and consistently woken up having no idea what I’m doing. But through this process I’ve attained something far greater than a fat bonus or nice apartment: I’ve come to know myself.
I know what activities in a job I like. I know extravagance does not correlate to sustained, personal happiness. I know that learning and personal development are my passions. I know what my many weaknesses are. I know the type of people I want to surround myself with.
So though I’m much farther from being financially free or having an important title, I’m much closer to knowing the life I want to live and how to get there. I’ll take this position over the former any day. Besides the type of people I want to work for aren’t impressed by passive in-action or mastery of microsoft office.
I feel grateful for this. Knowing thyself not only brings confidence and purpose to your life, but also peace. Stressed out people often point to their jobs as the source of their angst. This could be the case. I often think they’re more stressed about what they want their lives to be vs. what it actually looks like. I imagine one day this comes center-stage. Enter mid-life crisis?
I feel strongly that there is nothing more valuable a young person can do than get to know thyself. For me that has meant trying many things, living with uncertainty, and enduring some discomfort. It’s hard for me to say what the formula may be for someone else, but I encourage young people to seek this out, intentionally. The long-term rewards far outweigh any short-term hardships.
When you know thyself, it becomes far easier to see where you want to go…and trains always run smoother when they’re on tracks.