So writing blogs when you’re working full time is a *bit* harder than I imagined!! It’s also difficult when you need to move house twice in a month, because it became clear two weeks in that you live with Oscar the Grouch’s evil OCD twin… am happily installed just this morning in a new house, completely muppet free.
It’s now coming up to nearly two months living in Sydney in my new job and it’s nice to be able to say, I’m totally happy. Doing nothing in Spain for nearly a year showed me that I’m more than a career but being able to mesh earning money with something challenging and meaningful is totally the dream.
Daaamn though, but getting to that point was a PROCESS. After it became clear the world does not, in fact, need saving from Satan, all the rest of the job opportunities out there seemed, well, slightly lack-luster. Couple that with some existential confusion, disconnection from old friends and too much sangria the night before and you’ve got me in a cafe in Spain being all like ‘WHAT AM I ABOUT!?’
Frankly, it’s AWFUL not knowing what you’re about. Maybe it’s awful-er for me cos I’m wired that way but I’ve heard a lot of people trying to work this out and not just 20-somethings. There was a good six months there where I’d decided to move on from Spain and really Do Something and yet still had no idea what that Something was.
The worst thing is websites telling you to ‘List Your Passions’ and then work out how to get paid for doing those passions.
This is ridiculous.
You can’t list your passions if you don’t know what they are. Which means I must’ve been more lost than most people. Maybe that entitles me to some level of expert-navigator-of-life-decisions status or something…
With that title in mind, here’s my thoughts on how to Find Your Way when you’re just totally firkin’ lost.
1. Embrace Jealousy
I’m not jealous of the Prime Minister or a Scuba Diver instructor or a Fashion Stylist even though all of those jobs are pretty cool. I’m only ever jealous of people with their own businesses or in consulting. Jealousy is a clue to what you want in life, so ask yourself who you’re jealous of and start channeling that evil greeness somewhere productive.
2. One Step At A Time, Don’t Worry About Where It Will Lead
I found a business I totally loved around November-ish and noticed that the founder was speaking at TedX Amsterdam. I love both Amsterdam and TedX so signed up as a volunteer and used it as an opportunity to speak to the owner of the business. I met a few other interesting people as well and just generally fell in love with Amsterdam. If I hadn’t taken the one I did in Sydney, the fall-back plan was to go to Amsterdam. The more you know, the more secure you’ll feel in your options.
3. Take The Shot
Now’s the time to take a shot at all those things you thought you were never good enough for. Possibly you’ll find out you’re not good enough for them. No stress. At least you know now and you won’t be on your death bed all like ‘If only I had…’. I applied for those management consulting roles I’ve always known I wasn’t qualified for. The rejection was bitter sweet.
4. Notice how you feel
After researching design agencies I felt bored. After researching a business concept I felt tired. After researching Innovation Consultancies I was jumping through my hallway to grab my laptop for more reading over cooking a chicken risotto. Picking a direction to follow ain’t something you wanna do with your head. It’s all about the heart so just listen hard, then go with it.
On the other hand, if you find you’re feeling constantly depressed about Getting Onto Something or keep putting it off, you have to ask yourself why? I feel like that with this blog sometimes – there’s lots of should’ve done last year to make it ‘Popular’ but I just didn’t. I’m not a lazy person so to me that was a sign that this is a hobby and not a profession. You never know what letting go will open up…
5. It’s. So. Easy. To. Talk. To. People.
I don’t know if we’re just on the cusp of this socially connected world and so people are more open to approaches from random strangers they don’t know. Perhaps in a few years it will become such common practice that people get over it and stop saying yes. But right now, it’s totally possible to LinkedIn message any person you come across in an article and ask them if you’re able to catch up for coffee.
You don’t need to talk to the person doing what you want to be doing in 10 years. Just the person doing what you might like to do tomorrow. An analyst or design strategist is quite flattered to get a request to be taken out for coffee to talk about themselves and give advice.
6. It’s sickening.
On coming back from my visit to Amsterdam stalking said Business Founder, I mentioned to my friend that it hadn’t gone as far as I’d thought it would go, aka being offered an internship or even being able to see their offices. When he told me I had to mention I was looking for opportunities I wanted to vomit in my spaghetti carbonara. I’d just wanted to have a nice conversation without any soliciting.
This is just something you have to get better at. The best way to get comfortable with it is to see someone else do it. I saw a young girl do this at a workshop, looking for an internship. When you’re honest and intentional about your search, people understand that you’re not trying to screw them over and will connect you.
7. Ask for help
Everyone knows someone who knows someone who can help you. Now’s the time to ask for advice from people you only met once or twice. Anyone up a particular career ladder totally gets it and is more than willing to help out. The number of coffees and lunches I bought… the greatest value in these conversations was not necessarily connections but the way they allowed me to frame my experience and skills for the industry I wanted to get into. Each conversation refined My Story until I was sitting in front of my current boss, confidently spurting off the couple of lines that demonstrated my worth.
8. Give Your Heart A Break
It’s not the effort involved in searching that tires you out – it’s just living with the constant uncertainty. Don’t let yourself get so fatigued that you just take whatever’s in front of you rather than keep going for the dream. Give yourself a break every now and again so you’ve got the energy to keep pushing for the Best.
My greatest realisation is that these things take time. I used to be time’s worst enemy and now I’m it’s biggest friend. Relax into time, do what you can, follow the leads, give it your best and eventually opportunity will collide with your preparation to give you what you were looking for.