Starting out in the work-force and creating a career for yourself can be a hard path to navigate. There's a lot of unknown, bills to pay, long hours to clock and no more breaks to nap. A hangover is no longer an excuse to not show up and most of the days, you're second guessing yourself and whether this is the right field for you. Luckily, the world has shifted. And going down paved paths is no longer a necessity. Career choices are vast and options are endless. The key is to stay focused and make every experience count.
Here are 5 tips for reaching your goals and navigating the work force early on:
1. Get a job, any job.
When you've just arrived in the work force and are just starting to create a career for yourself, reality is... you need a paycheck. You might get by for a little while without it, but at some point or another, you will need to accept a job offer. Your first job may not be your dream job (a first job rarely is!), but it's just as important. This is where you'll get to apply what you read in books, something that turns out to be completely different (who knew?!). It's where you'll learn what you really want out of a career and where you'll define the kind of life you want to create for yourself. Every day will teach you something about the field you chose and about yourself. It'll pay the bills, you'll meet new people, and at some point you'll get to decide: Do I want to stay? What's next?
Without these "on the job" experiences, you won't be able to tell.
2. Be ok with not feeling passionate about your job, everyday.
Passion is important. In everything you do. It's the driving force in life and what will help you excel, no matter what career you choose. But you won't feel passionate every single day. And that's ok. When this happens...you'll get the itch. And before you quit, find your "side hustle".
3. Find a side hustle
Your side hustle is just as important as that first job. It's where you find a part of yourself you never knew existed. Note, a side hustle has nothing to do with "making extra cash". If it helps you make a few extra bucks, that's great! But it's never about that to begin with. Your side hustle is about having a place where you can channel your "ideal self". It's where you are able to explore your creative side or a side of you that your day job doesn't really tap into. Keep your job but start to move away from the idea that your job is all you can do. Keep open to the idea that life might surprise you and that the side hustle can one day turn into a paycheck.
4. Every few months, reflect on your goals and visions for the future.
It can be easy to become consumed with the daily grind and loose sight of what we're truly working towards. The trick to staying inspired at work is having a vision for the future and goals set. This is something we tend to loose sight of every so often. The job, training, grad school, or wherever you are now may not feel pleasant all the time. You might even hate it on some days. But if you're clear about where you are headed and focus on that, it's hard to give up. If what you are doing now doesn't match with your goals in the future, it might be time to reflect and either change paths or set new goals.
5. Don't be afraid to shift gears.
From early on, we're taught that we need to "choose". We need to choose a field and stick to it. As soon as we step foot into a college lecture, we're pressured to choose a major. Checking "undecided" on the application is frowned upon. And being "undecided" in your 20s... even worse. Even though it's true, you do need to make a choice, you're under no pressure to live your life based on the decision you made at 19. Once you're in the work-force and on the path of carving out your career, don't be afraid to take on new projects or shift gears. The possibilities are endless and you are allowed to feel happy pursuing more than one thing. Don't be afraid to change paths and try new things.
Image: Sayeh Peyeski
Dr. Francesca Vazquez is the founder and editor of Ease to Wellness, LLC. She is a licensed health psychologist and vinyasa yoga instructor based in Miami, FL. She completed her training at Ponce School of Medicine, Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami, and UF Health Cancer Center, specializing in health psychology & behavioral medicine. She has worked in spinal cord injury rehab, neuropsychology, pain management, stress management, mindfulness based stress reduction, psycho-oncology and wellness coaching. She is passionate about writing, wellness and living creatively, doing what you love. Currently, she runs Ease to Wellness while also providing health psychology services for private clients, teaching yoga, and running wellness workshops. She is a regular contributor for websites such as www.mindbodygreen.com and a part-time Clinical Psychologist at Adaptive Center in Miami, FL. To contact or for more information, visit www.francescavazquez.com.