In July, I attended the second gathering of the New York Personal Development Meetup group, a diverse collection of people interested in improving their lives (if you haven’t heard about Meetup.com yet, you should really check it out). Although the focus of the night was overcoming procrastination, a couple of the presentations touched upon discovering your true passion and taking a shot at living your dreams. One of the presenters even shocked the audience by announcing that he was quitting his job in a couple of weeks and moving to Brazil with his best friends to pursue his passion (shout-out to Scott Britton). Talk about going for it!
That night definitely got me thinking more and more about my career path so far as well as that of the typical workforce employee. Up until college, all you really knew about the working world was reflected in your parents’ jobs. Typically, your mom and dad worked at about 1-3 companies each over their entire careers, give or take (my dad has been at the same one for over 34 years!). It’s not their fault; they grew up in a generation that valued steady paychecks at large corporations. Naturally, they want you to follow in their footsteps, so they set you on a similar path. If that route plays to your strengths and appeals to you in the slightest, you’ll probably take it. If it doesn’t, you also might stick to it because it seems safe and it avoids disappointing your patens. However, if you truly care about doing meaningful work and are honest with yourself, you’ll likely come to the realization that you have different passions and interests than your parents. As a result, you pursue work you actually want to do.
That’s exactly what happened to me. At Georgetown, I was all set to have Accounting complement my Finance major. Both my parents had Accounting backgrounds, and my brother was on the CPA path. It was only natural that I did the same, right? Wrong!
Towards the end of sophomore year, I finally realized that I didn’t have to pursue Accounting beyond the business school’s requirements. Instead, I decided to pursue Marketing, which has subsequently led to my interests in social media and the sports business. I have chased these two disciplines ever since and have never looked back.
After interning with a talent agent, blogging for a sports career website and interning at a sports tech startup, I landed my first full-time job as a Community Manager at VaynerMedia. In my 10.5 months here, I’ve gotten the chance to work with some awesome clients, including several from the sports industry.
Aside from the content of my work, I’ve definitely developed more perspective on my career trajectory since starting. It’s so easy for employees to keep their heads down and focus on projects or tasks. This is the work grind as you and I know it. We get so caught up with what’s next on our work plates that we fail to think about what’s next on our career plates. Unless you desperately hate your job, your plan is likely to work hard and get promoted. This makes total sense as long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing and want to stay with a particular organization for the longer term. It also makes sense for those who have ulterior motives, where getting promoted is more about making a higher salary at the same company or leveraging your new title for higher pay at a new job than it is about the work you are doing. I hope you identify with the former and not the latter!
Regardless of your motives, I bet that only a handful of you are actually working jobs that you’re truly passionate about. If this sounds like you, you’re either an entrepreneur trying to solve a problem you really care about or super self-aware of what makes you tick. The truth is that the majority of us are toiling away at jobs that interest us but are not quite our passion. If you’re doubting me, honestly ask yourself if you’re pumped every single morning to go into work. That’s what I thought.
This problem is perfectly okay to have in the short-term. Not everyone knows exactly what they want at (insert age). Doing something interesting will help you pass the time, but following your passion will truly help you live life to the fullest. I implore you to take some serious time to give this topic some thought, or one day you’ll wake up and wonder where it all went. Look yourself in the mirror and honestly ask yourself, “What do I really want to do?” I haven’t quite stumbled upon my perfect answer yet, but when I do, I’ll be ready for it.