This year isn’t about knowing you can. Those of us in developed countries with the foresight required to be reading professional development material all know that we can do anything we set our minds to. The question is “Will you do what you can do?”
I’m tired of seeing people who are less skilled, less competent, and less passionate than I doing better than me in the things I know I should be doing. So, this year, I’m knocking down doors to get where I need to be AND to get paid a fair amount in those spaces. Why? Not because I can but because I will. Will you?
And this isn’t just about your professional or entrepreneurial goals. In October, though I never had, I knew I could run 60+ miles but I didn’t know I would until I had 10 days remaining to run the last 35 miles. In college, though I never had, I knew I could graduate but it wasn’t until that fifth year that I knew I would. Make this stuff happen. This is your life. Put in the time. Ask for constructive criticism. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He called you by putting a fire in you to make something happen. That’s your calling. Step up to the plate. Now is the time. What are you going to do this year that you’ve never done?
Make knowing you will a priority.
Everyone thinks I’m living my best life. And I kind of am. I’m happy. I am building a business that I truly enjoy. I’m able to work on projects that I really care about. The seeds for greatness have been planted and I’m reaping the rewards. Super duper cool, right? Well, that’s one half of the story. The other half is that I miss benefits and stability and a regular freaking paycheck. Now, with that comes me having to manage my happiness. Sometimes, and let’s be honest, working for someone else sucks, regardless of who it is. But so does working for yourself. It’s all about perspective.
Had to preface the meat of the post with that paragraph to say that I am on the hunt. And the hunt is taxing. To everyone who is on it, don’t quit. Don’t doubt yourself. Touch up on the things that you don’t do well and enhance those things which you do exceptionally well. Not getting a particular role is a blessing. It opens up the opportunity for you to be able to take the role that will truly fit you. Keep grinding, keep pressing through, and, when you get that dream job, all the nonsense will be worth it.
Make keeping it real a priority.
So many people see greatness in you. They see that you are capable of accomplishing your dreams. Sure, there are people who don’t support but that’s life. The bottom line is, the person who needs to believe in you the most often doesn’t believe in you enough.
Trust that your passion will get you where you need to go. Today, I got a call from my brother to help him as he develops an internship program for his business. Lately, people have been contacting me for more and more creative gigs. While development consumes my days, my creative juices are always flowing. At night, I stay up creating content and editing photos.
I’m not saying quit your job to follow your creative aspirations… yet. I’m saying don’t let those things that pay your bills keep you from using your gifts. They are stepping stones. A means to an end. A seed of passion was placed into you for a reason. Water it so it can grow or it will die.
Make using your gifts a priority.
I’ll kick it off by saying that being a young professional in today’s society is a double-edged sword that most Baby Boomers do not understand. I talk with my mom and grandma often and, when I am looking for a new job, they think it should be easy for someone with my skills and experience to find employment. And it would be very easy were it 1980 or before. Shoot, before 2000, you could walk into a company, shake someone’s hand, and make an excellent first impression when you handed a crafted résumé and cover letter to a receptionist or, if you were lucky, hiring manager.
That was then. Now we have to navigate through automated systems that often fail horribly at selecting the right person for the job. There are so many qualified candidates that human beings don’t put their eyes on applications until they’re sifted through by A.I. That’s the system, that’s the way it is, maybe we will be able to go back one day but, today, that’s reality.
Boom. I’ve covered myself. So what do we do now? We manipulate the unfair system to our advantage. We use the tools that do help us develop as young professionals to make ourselves stand out. We take the time to throw industry jargon into our LinkedIn profiles. We add key words from the job description to our résumé and cover letters to make sure our applications are selected by the A.I. systems. We go to the networking events so we can get in the rooms that the decision makers are in and, when in those rooms, we have something to say.
Technology makes things easier but it makes truly connecting more difficult. No one understands that more than those of us who learned with both a pencil at the first half of our childhood and a keyboard during our adolescence. We went to college, got out weighed down by debt, and the jobs weren’t there. Many of us are within 3 years of 30 on either side and we wonder why we haven’t made it to where The Wonder Years and The Cosby Show said we should be by now. Well, it’s because of tech. No one was ready for it. But, unless The Walking Dead is a premonition, it’s here to stay. So let’s hedge our bets and learn this new system. Take full advantage of apps like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Monster. Invest in your professional development and personal branding. It’s the only way we’ll advance.
Oh… and don’t let Boomers or anyone else shame you for not “having it together” yet. You’ll get where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there.
Make trusting the process a priority.
We’ve all had those interviews. You know, the ones where your confidence was through the roof, you and the interviewer connected, and your outfit was spot on for the culture. You reached out to me and I got your résumé in tip-top shape, with a cover letter to match. The hiring manager told you to expect a call in the next couple days.
A few days go by but was she talking about business days or days days? A business week goes by and you decide it’s time to reach out to HR. You find out that no news really is good news. Their timeline got thrown off but they’re still considering the candidates. Definitely a relief.
They finally call back on the second date they gave you and, this time, the news isn’t so good. They’ve gone with an internal candidate. But how? You did all the right things. You were genuine, but impressive. Well-dressed but not over-dressed. Articulate but not pompous.
While I interview well a strong majority of the time, I’ve had my share of interviews that didn’t yield the results I expected. For a long time, I thought I’d done something wrong. But, truth be told, I can pull out all my best answers, shirts, and slacks and still be the wrong person for the position.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re not qualified or a great person for the field. It just means the position isn’t for you.
This post is just as much for me as for you all. Your time is coming. Don’t give up. I won’t either.
Make pressing forward a priority.
Ever have that friend who shows up right on time to hang out but you really weren’t expecting them to be there when they were supposed to be?
This year, that friend is August. I’m sitting here looking at my calendar and August is HERE. Here here. As in here right this moment. I’m looking at all I’ve accomplished and, while I am pretty proud with some of my forward steps, I’m behind the 8-ball on a couple things.
So, now that we’ve realized our awesome buddy Auggie is here to crash on my couch for the next 31 days (only to be followed by his sweet sister September), I’ve got some tips for both myself and you all that will help us fast-track our way to reaching our 2018 goals before the ball drops.
- Maximize your time. We all need rest (not just sleep but truly restful periods) to be healthy, happy, and productive people. That being said, some of us have been resting a lot during these first seven months. Shoot, I just took a whole two months away from the United States (but I was working on some major projects while I was gone, so don’t get it twisted). Use your lunch breaks to knock out some smaller tasks or to get a larger task done over the course of a few lunches. If you need to, pick a day out of the weekend to truly wind down but, if you’ve got goals and you’re far behind, you have to make up for time wasted by grinding on that other day.
- Pick an accountability partner. Yesterday, I had lunch with two of my closest friends. We had a running challenge while I was out of the country. I lost badly. They picked on me. The challenge required that the losers buy the winner lunch and the winner certainly didn’t let us off the hook. If you have a goal but you’re having a hard time reaching it, get someone who is going to be honest with you and set some consequences for yourself if you don’t reach it.
- Cut out the unnecessaries. Do you need that burger? How about that beer? You say you want to save money but you’re going out again this Friday? Netflix is cheap (or free for some of us whose families are generous). You set a financial goal at the beginning of the year. What will you need to sacrifice to get there before the end? If you need some help, click this link and check out what George Acheampong can do to help you get on the right track.
- Nike said it best: Just Do It! Apply for that job. Start reading some books. Fill out those incorporation papers. Enter an art competition. You have time and you said that, at the end of 2018, you won’t be in the same place you were at the beginning, but, many times, what stops us from reaching our goals is that we over plan. It would be nice if the stars all aligned and everything was perfect but, to be realistic, that will not be the case very often. Sometimes, you just have to look at the plan you have, say “Shoot, this’ll get me 75% of the way,” and figure the other 25% while you’re on the journey.
We have five more months. That’s almost half a year. You can do this. Put in 2.2x the work and you’ll hit the mark. I know we can do this.
Make achieving your goals a priority.
Yesterday, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off and I didn’t make time to write. Today will be the same but I decided to start my day off creatively.
On this day in particular, I want to say enjoy the weekend. Being an adult is hard and it can rob us of our joy if we let it. Pay attention to the underlined words. We have a choice in this thing we call life. Some may have fewer things to restrict them than others but we all have a choice. I don’t have kids so I may have more freedom than some folks with kids but someone has no wife so they can make decisions at the drop of a hat without consulting anyone else. Still, there are people with kids who have amassed such wealth that they can conceivably get up and leave work today and be no worse off. No matter what, we cannot live our lives buying into society’s narrative that, to be an adult is to be unhappy. I just won’t believe that. I like to believe I will always look for that opportunity to relive moments of youthful joy. I still know my dreams of making an indelible impact on humanity is possible. Shoot, I still love picking up books and reading for fun.
Life is too short to be unhappy, undervalued, unloved, or unloving. Today, I challenge you to ask yourself if you are happy. Do you feel valued and loved? Are you loving those things and people God placed in your life? If the answer to any of these is “No,” and you are just going through the motions, take time to figure out how to say yes to them all. And then take a step to do that. If it’s discussing a (deserved) raise at work so you feel valued, have that talk. If you and your significant other need to find a book so that love is flowing more abundantly on both ends, head to Barnes and Noble ASAP. Maybe finally starting that business you’ve been wanting to start will add to your happiness and I’m sure you can find some time today to do some research on first steps. Whatever you do, know that your time here is limited and, when it’s all said and done and you’re in heaven or hell or some box six feet deep thinking “I wish I had…” you want that list to be as short as possible.
Make having fewer regrets a priority.