It was a scorching, unbearably humid day and a long four hour car ride with my parents from Philadelphia to Newport News, Virginia with a cramped car full of my young adult life. I was moving back home after my five year run at Temple U and ready to start traveling for an interview in New York City the following week. Somewhere between Baltimore and D.C., at a rest stop that looked like a scene from The Hills Have Eyes, my phone buzzed with an email from the tech company I was interviewing with. My heart was jumping inside- my face glowed as bright as the screen on my rhinestone cased phone. A few days before, I was emailing back and forth with the administrative assistant to set aside some time to discuss travel arrangements and my hotel stay. All I could think about was killing this interview and dreaming about being able to move up to The Big Apple, living life like a yuppie version of Carrie Bradshaw.
When I opened the email, I felt like someone shot me with a 12 gauge and left my body to fester on a deserted highway- the company decided at the last minute to offer the position to an internal candidate and cancel everything.
At the time, my whole idea of post collegiate success was landing a career in my field and climb up the company ladder for 40 years or so until retirement. Plan B? Please, I didn’t have a plan A.1! At the time, I did not really know what I was good at… my talents or what my passion was in life. I was $100,000 in debt and the dream was to work in the dog-eat-dog world of Corporate America, survive and have a little extra to get myself something nice every once in a while. There were no other options in my newly graduated 23 year old mind. Plan A HAD to work… because, it was all I had.
The current working world is a “gig” economy. Having a side hustle is becoming a must more than ever. It is surprising that the word “career” is still even in existence, especially for Gen Y. The working world and economy is not how it was back when the Baby Boomers or even Gen X entered the work force. The realm of working for a company until you reach retirement is slowly spiraling into extinction. Hell, most of us will probably go through several different employers and career paths within that time frame. Let’s face it, having a B.A. is becoming BS and not as valued as it was a couple of generations before us. You have to have more to your persona than your intricately framed $100,000 receipt hanging on the wall and a polished resume, because millions among millions of fresh faced degree holding young professionals have the same.
If you are one of the lucky ones to land your dream job, the rug can be pulled from under you at any moment. You have to have your game plan, even when you are on top of your game. What is your next move? What skills do you have? What are your passions? These are things you have to ask yourself and think deeply about in case things don’t work out. You have to have more than just a Plan B.
1. Networking and Maintaining Your Network
Building your network is key when it comes to staying competitive and setting yourself up with a backup plan or three. Networking shouldn’t stop when you land a job. Joining professional associations, attending company events and career fairs are ways to meet new people who are knowledgeable in the industry. Whether you believe it or not, your friends and coworkers are a vast network of individuals. Stay in touch and in the loop on events, you never know, the next get together you may attend may be the launch of a budding career.
2. Having A Hobby
If you are having a hard time landing your “Plan A” job, doing something that you love and enjoy is a route to go. You may think that your weekend obsession of scrap booking or making jewelry might be just a hobby, but hobbies can be platforms to start your own business. You are highly knowledgeable and skilled at your craft – the love that you have for a hobby naturally pushes you to become an expert and innovative. As they say- you don’t work a day doing what you love.
3. Being Open To Opportunities
Never say what you wouldn’t do, especially when you are in a position where you need experience to get your foot in the door. You have to look at the bigger picture. Do not discredit jobs that you may consider “small”. Throughout high school and college I worked in food service as a busser, waitress, bartender and even a line cook. These jobs taught me strong communication and customer service skills, advertising, attention to detail and problem solving. The job may not be glamorous, but it is about making the most out of the opportunities that you have to reach your goals.
4. Finding Your Passion
For some, finding a passion in life may be something that is already in front of them. For others, like me, finding a passion may take time and a little soul searching. I was turning 24 when I discovered my passion. I would work during the day and film makeup videos in my aunt and uncle’s fluorescent lit bathroom late at night. After continuously making videos, I realized that my passion was creating. I joined several online beauty communities, made a website while constantly reading and learning about editing and filming. Finding your passion expands your horizons and network.
Always make your next move your best move and play smart when moving along in your career. Remember, the path in life is not always linear, it is the curves and contours in the path that shapes us, but it is always good when you have paths B-Z to keep things moving towards A.
Staying motivated can be very difficult at times. There are days where I have hundreds of ideas floating in my head, but cannot seem to find a way to execute them. Sometimes it is like the light bulb in my head all of a sudden exploded and the motivation I once had just fizzles away. For times of lack of motivation, which we ALL experience, we have to stay inspired and keep our eyes on the prize. Being inspired is a major driver when we want to complete daily task and reach long-term goals. Whether your inspiration is from music, people you admire, art and beyond, always going back to your inspirations will jump start you to get back on track.
1. Make a Manifestation Board
Believe it or not, I got the idea from one of my favorite shows GIRLS on HBO. In the first season of the show, Shoshana (played by Zosia Mamet) created a Manifestation board full of inspiring magazine clippings and quotes- Think back to middle school and high school when you used to make collages. Whether you use a cork board or use your fridge making a Manifestation Board is a great way to have a visual reminder stay motivated.
Reading can be a drag for some of us, but reading books by business professionals and celebrity autobiographies can wake up the motivation seed that is buried inside of you. I did not start to really enjoy reading until I was 24, I try monthly to have a new book and the books are mainly about business and fashion. If you are into technology- then pick up books about how famous software companies developed. If you are into sports – read an autobiography about one of your favorite athlete. What I love about reading is that it sends you to a different place and perspective, especially when I read books about how entrepreneurs started their businesses from the ground up. Even if it is an article in a magazine READ to gain industry knowledge.
3. Follow People Who Are Doing What You Want To Do
I love blogging and making YouTube videos, but at times I can hit a dry spell creating content. I literally spend hours daily looking at YouTube videos and reading some of my favorite blogs (ManRepeller and Michelle Phan to name a couple) to see trending topics. Feeding off of people within your industry or the industry you would like to be helps to get you motivated. For me it gives me the sense of “If they can do it, so can I.”
With all the stress factors in life, whether it may be work, bills and prioritizing your busy schedule- It is good to block the world out and just take a chill pill. Our monotonous daily routines can get us in a mental bind that we forget the main purpose of life –LIVING.
Ever since elementary school I put a ton of pressure on myself; Who needs parents to push you when you are constantly pushing yourself to be an over achiever? Everything that I have set my mind to I always accomplished. I remember when I began working for a startup after graduating from college. For years I would barely take a day off, even if I were sick because I thought that work was my entire life. Being absent meant to me that I could be replaced and I did not want to look bad in the eyes of my superiors. That constant reassurance in my mind for job security through showing how hard I could work started dragging me to the ground and even affecting my home life. My mind would not shut off from work, this would cause me to fall asleep on the couch thirty minutes after my fiancé came home. I was burnt out over things that I cannot control.
I needed to find a way to release and live a less stressful life, because I knew that I would be heading down a path of mental breakdown mania before even reaching thirty (i.e. Britney Spears circa 2007). As time went on I found a new gig, left the startup, and then lost my job. All of my fears felt like they Spartan kicked me in the chest and I just broke down. Little did I know this minor setback was going to be the beginning of a new life and a new way of thinking.
One night, after sending numerous resumes and working on my website and YouTube, I decided that I needed to clear my head and FAST. I remember thinking back about an interview Russell Simmons did as he talked about how he meditates every day to keep a strong mind and healthy life. I decided to go in my bedroom, illuminate the room with candles with only the sounds of a meditation soundtrack of rushing water and just BREATHE. The first night that I did this, I blocked out everything (even the sounds of my fiancé playing GTA V and causing a five star SWAT chase) and felt so refreshed, even through my time of career uncertainty. I do a meditation routine nightly and this helps to close out the current day and prepare positively for the next day.
1. Find A Quiet Place
Find a place in your home where you can be uninterrupted, even if it is only for 10-15 minutes. Turn off all distractions such as your TV, radio and phone (unless you use your phone for music).
2. Use Scented Candles and Incense For A Calming Atmosphere
Meditating is all about a peaceful calm atmosphere. Scents like lavender and vanilla are commonly used to calm our bodies from stress. I personally like to mix beach and ocean inspired scents along with vanilla candles.
3. You Do Not Have To Be A Particular Religion To Meditate
Don’t think that you have to be affiliated with a religion to meditate. You can use this time to think about personal goals and daily goals. Personally, I use the time to do rhythmic breathing, pray, set goals and repeat motivational phrases as if I were my own coach. Remember, you are your biggest motivator.
The most important thing is to relax. Leave work at work! You already dedicated 40+ hours at the office; do not neglect your personal time. That was a major problem I had for years and I made a vow that I would not bring that added stress. Turn off your work phone and laptop; it CAN wait until the morning.