College Grads, will you be loving your life’s work?

Dear Young Professional,

This week I am traveling to Honolulu to attend my niece’s graduation. I can’t believe this day is here. Seems like yesterday it was her baptism, church confirmation or leaving on a flight to see if she could handle “island speed” while attending college at University of Hawaii Pacifica.

The passage from college to adulting can be daunting. Job interviews are stressful, then once you get the job and are learning to navigate the new organization and think about how to build your career… well, there is a lot to unpack as you build your life.

How can you make this less daunting? The answer came to me as… love your life’s work. If you love your life’s work, you have clarity in a way that helps navigate new areas and crystalizes decision making.

The college experience is meant to expose you to new ideas and challenge your thinking. Many of you, like my niece, might have even changed your major from when you enrolled in college to graduation. While she was passionate about being in the field of Marine Biology, living in a lab wasn’t where she saw her future.

Her gift for working with the youth naturally led her to the field of education. This week she graduates with honors. While she has many decisions ahead of her, loving what she will do with most of her days will not be an issue.

So how do you get started? How do you find the life’s work that you will love?

  • If you are just graduating or recently joined the workforce:
    • Make a list of your options
      • What are the roles available? E.g. Have a law degree? Do you want private or public service? Large firm or boutique? Do you have what it takes in terms of time, drive and determination to dedicate to being “partner status” one day?
      • Currently working in a role that’s not a great fit? Explore what it will take to
        change that. Is it time and when you grow in your role that situation may
        change? Do you have the right industry wrong role/culture – start to look for
        something new.
    • Interview with interest:
      • Show interest in what the company’s goals are and talk about your skills (tangible and soft skills) and how that would contribute to the company’s goals
      • Ask questions about culture, you will not love your life’s work if where you work is not a fit in culture
      • Interviewing to change jobs? Follow the two steps above but also, make sure while you are leaving it’s because you are running towards something and not away from something. If you are just running away, you tend to not think clearly and therefore, do not fully vet new opportunities.
      • If you know your life’s work is just not where you are, then run for it.
    • Take a longer view of life:
      • I remember the first time someone asked me “What’s your 5-year plan?” I was lucky to have a 30-day plan and make it from paycheck to paycheck. I was 21 years old. That was a very important lesson for me. I started looking at my life in longer building blocks.
      • I probably would have drifted through life and done OK. However, that question made me start to look at myself as the architect of my life, not a bystander.
      • Be the architect of your life – what do you want personally and professionally? And what MUST you have – those “nonnegotiables” to build that life?

Life is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the journey and if you think you made a wrong turn, it just might unveil a delightful surprise. If not, turn around. You’re the one driving.

Fondly,
Aunt Kris

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