As a higher education professional, the end of the academic year is always bittersweet. I am feeling relieved to have completed another great work year and made it out alive but as the senior students finish up their finals and prepare to move on from this college, I have mixed emotions. It’s an exciting time for these seniors to be finishing up their college experience and now they are off into the “real world” wide-eyed and excited for the next phase of their life. As I say “see you later” to the students I am close with, I find myself saying and writing the same message over and over again…“pursue your passions and embrace the day”. I want so badly for these young professionals to truly do what they love and bravely seize opportunities that will get them closer to a meaningful career and life. It something I hope all of us can find.
Life has taught me that there is no final destination or culminating career move – it’s a journey from start to end. It’s constantly evolving, changing directions and taking us places we never expected. I frequently hear my students say “I don’t know what I want to do when I ‘grow’ up” and I always laugh and respond with “me either!” When we are young adults, like the upcoming class of 2017, we feel we need to know what we want to do and be able to articulate the position, title and our professional aspirations to anyone that asks. I thought I needed to know exactly what I wanted to do and where I wanted to do it at the ripe age of 21. The truth is; we don’t. We don’t need to know as young graduates and we don’t need to know as mid-career professionals. Wherever you are in your career – be all there – and don’t stress about what’s next. Don’t get caught up in titles, status or make career moves to impress other people. Make career decisions based on your passions, values and strengths. This is the secret to a meaningful career.
Today, as a 30-year old woman, my career goals have shifted from wanting to be a “police women” at the age of 5 to a “professional NBA basketball athlete” for most of my adolescent years to a “tenured college professor” upon completing my undergraduate degree and in most recent years a “college athletic director”. Quite the spectrum of career aspirations over 30 years, ha! Today, my attitude and mindset has shifted quite a bit. If you asked me “what’s next?” or “whats your career aspirations” – I don’t have a position or title in mind but rather my goal is to “work for an organization that aligns with my values and passions.” My career journey has become less about positions, titles and status and more about pursuing meaningful work that gives me purpose, energy and joy.
So, to the class of 2017 and the Friday Fuel community – no matter where you are in your career and life; it’s never to early or too late to explore your values and passions and pursue the opportunities that align with both of these. Figure out what matters to you, what you love to do and what gives you purpose, energy and joy. Life comes at us in unexpected ways and you never know where it will take you but knowing what you value and are most passionate about will always take you in the right direction.
Pursue your passions and embrace the day!
twitter: @cturner_strong & @Friday_Fuel