I can’t believe it has been almost two years since I touched back down in the states after living and traveling through Asia for what turned out to be a truly life-changing year. Truth be told, I have just recently felt content with the path life has led me down and where I currently sit. I didn’t like the un-nomadic life at first and I had trouble sitting still, trying to get on this so called “career path” everyone talks about. Now that I’m on it and loving it, I hope you’ll allow me to share some bits of wisdom that I have picked up since first starting this blog two years ago, fresh from my adventures abroad.
Be diligent in your decision making
After my gap-year, I moved to Chicago for an internship, then moved to Normal (yes, Normal) for a semester of grad school, then moved back to Chicago for the job I currently hold, with a few international trips here and there and a number of stints on my parent’s couch. As you can clearly see, I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be, and in all honesty, some of the decisions I made between these transitions were a bit rash.
In some early cases, I didn’t think through the job I was accepting, the responsibilities it would hold, the environment that would surround me, or the challenges I might face. If you have time before making your next move to a new city or a new job, think it through as completely as you possibly can. What are the pros? What are the cons? Are you going to be challenged in your new position? Are you simply accepting this job because you’re afraid something else won’t come up? Don’t. Do not accept any offer simply because you think it’s good enough. Good enough is not good enough.
Live within your means
Some of my friends think I’m crazy for choosing to live in a studio apartment. I know that it’s the smart decision since I would rather save money on rent to pay for a round-trip ticket to an unexplored destination. As a young adult, it is so crucial that you live within your means. Don’t open up a credit card account simply due to the lure of a free [insert product you really feel you need but really don’t]. As Dr. Phil once wisely said, do not finance toys. If you don’t have the money to pay for it, don’t buy it. You don’t need it.
Do not compare to others
This is a struggle that I face frequently. In the Facebook and Twitter obsessed world we live in, how is it possible NOT to envy your friend with the perfect career, your second cousin that just rendezvoused through Europe, or your recently engaged ex-boyfriend? The fact of the matter is your life and your accomplishments are just as important. Your life is just as fulfilling. Your paycheck might not be as large and your car may not be as fast, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t just as happy. Need help to stop competing with those around you? Let Tiny Buddha give you some valid advice.
I, for one, know I would love to make the mid-level salary while working the entry level position. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Be patient, work hard, and one day you won’t feel the angst of the twenty-something-always-broke blues.
Stop making excuses
For a moment, think about the items that occupy your to-do list. I don’t mean your grocery shopping or errand list. Rather, the expanding list of things you keep in the back of your mind, the things you hope to start doing in order to somehow benefit your life and those in it. Is it finally starting the new workout plan? A resolution to keep in better touch with friends and family? Your intention to make your bed every morning?
Stop saying you’ll do this or that tomorrow. Let’s be honest with one another, you won’t ever get to it no matter how well your intentions. Travel has and always will be a priority of mine. I don’t make an excuse as to why I couldn’t travel somewhere new, no matter how short the distance may be. I find the time, budget the money, and face challenges that may present themselves in the face of my never ending curiosity.
Don’t accept a job offer just because you have one. Don’t settle on a relationship simply because you’re in one. Don’t refuse yourself the experience to try something new due to the fact that you’re afraid of the consequences. Understand what you’re afraid of, what makes you happy, what makes you unhappy. Get to know yourself then get to know as much of the world as you possibly can. Always be on the search to learn something new. Never stop challenging yourself.