What Do You Really Want to Do with Your Life?

follow-your-passionIn 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.

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Honesty Is the Best Policy

honesty

Last Thursday night marked the first evening of my New York City staycation. My girlfriend Alexis and I went out for a night on the town. No friends. Just the two of us.

We were out to eat at a restaurant called Bakehouse in the Meatpacking District when one of my best friends Joe texted me about going out that night. My immediate reaction as a friend was to somehow make him part of our evening. I ran it by my girlfriend and she didn’t seem to have any issues with it, so I let Joe know our plans with the intention of meeting up at some point. Upon further discussion with my girlfriend, I realized how I quickly I was about to change the course of our romantic, fun evening without clearly thinking it through. I wanted to adhere to our original plan but had a sticky situation to fix without letting a friend down. Instead of texting Joe an excuse about why I suddenly didn’t want to hang out anymore (what A LOT of people would probably do), I called him and told him the truth. That’s what real friends do. Joe completely understood, and Alexis and I went on to enjoy an adventurous night.

Upon reflection of that series of events, I can’t help but relate the lesson I learned to the classic saying, “Honest is the best policy.” There’s just something about timeless adages that I like. I’ve heard them from all different sources (parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, etc.) and held on to the ones that have resonated with me the most. Even though I may not fully comprehend their meanings yet, I like to use them when applicable to teach others a lesson that I hope they will carry with them.

Honesty is all about telling the truth regardless of the circumstances. It’s the best policy because it represents what you actually believe/feel at a particular moment or describes real actions you’ve taken in the past. Any response other than the truth wastes another person’s time. In a world where time is so precious, would you want someone to waste yours with some form of BS? I think not!

Honesty being the best policy is really put to the test when dealing with friends. The lines definitely get blurry (shout-out to Robin Thicke!) in certain situations. For example, a friend might ask you how he or she looks in a new outfit that you are not crazy about. Depending on your relationship with that person, you might smile and say they look great or straight up tell them you hate it. Or what if someone asks your opinion on a project they’ve put a lot of effort into? You truly think they’ve just been spinning their wheels, but at the same time you know how much they care about it. Does “honesty is the best policy” apply in these situations?

If it’s your best friend, you might be comfortable calling him or her out on something based on the trust you’ve built up over the years. If it’s an acquaintance or someone you would like to become friends with, you might fudge the truth. However, regardless of the situation, you can and should be honest. There’s definitely a way to highlight all the positive you see in something before pointing out areas of criticism. This constructive feedback not only puts you mentally at ease but is more beneficial to the person in the short and long term. If you really want to develop and maintain genuine relationships, honesty should be a vital part of the equation.

How do you feel about “Honesty is the best policy?” What are some adages that you live by?

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Welcome to The Life of Riley!

photoAfter a couple of months off from blogging for WorkInSports.com, I’ve decided that I want to start writing again. I enjoy writing. It helps me establish my point of view on the world while learning about who I am in the process. I also believe, as well as have been told by others, that I’m good at it. The only way I will continue to improve this strength of mine is to consistently flex my writing muscles. I want to be able to look back on the earlier part of my life and know exactly why I chose to do the things that I did personally and professionally.

In terms of what you can expect from style, I plan on being as authentic to my personality as possible. Regarding  content, I plan on writing about the things that truly matter to me. Although I never want to limit myself to subject matter, right now I think that means the sports business, the marketing world, entertainment industry, self development, technology and entrepreneurship. While I do simply love reading about any of these topics on a regular basis, I think it’s important to take a step back when necessary in order develop my own take on things. Maybe I disagree with something that happened in the world or think there are better ways out there to add value. There are so many lessons to be learned all around us, if only we stop what we’re doing once in awhile to reflect and actually realize what they are. I’ll do my best to share the ones that I’ve learned so far and will continue to learn along the way to a happy, successful and fulfilling life.

Speaking of lives, as you may have noticed, I’ve named my blog “The Life of Riley.” “The Life of Riley” is an idiom that means a carefree, comfortable and thoroughly enjoyable way of living. I don’t know who coined this phrase, but it sure does an awesome job of summarizing what I want my life to represent, not to mention the direct tie-in to my last name. As much I sweat the small stuff from time to time, I really do strive to not worry so much because more often than not, things are going to be just fine. Furthermore, there’s no sense in living in discomfort. America is the land of opportunity, and I plan on taking advantage of my natural talents and upbringing to live to my own standard of comfort. Finally, I’ve always been all about having a good time. You only have one life to live, so you might as well make it count and have fun along the way.

I’m really excited to get back into writing and give you an all-access look into seeing the world from my perspective. At the end of the day, my ultimate hope is for you to learn something from me regularly and apply it to improve the quality of your life. I encourage your comments and feedback along the way. Thanks!

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