Part 1: 10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Kid
Do What You Love
It’s a pretty strange thing, nearing 40. As a kid, 40 years old sounded ancient and I couldn’t possibly imagine anything worthwhile coming with age. But as each year passes, I find myself falling more in love with my life and decisions, even though they look nothing like I’d imagined. There are, however, so many things I wish I knew early on. To be fair, it’s not that no one told me. It’s more of a learning process, a slow unveiling of self discovery.
My career has always been tricky, elusive even. A path didn’t come naturally and was the source of so much agony. I constantly found myself discovering what I didn’t want to do rather than the opposite. Over the years I’d ask myself, “If money was no object and judgement didn’t exist, how would you spend your working hours?” The answer has always been the same.
In life there’s nothing more rewarding than doing what you love. Passion is both visible and contagious; you can see it in someone’s face and hear it in their voice. When you’re passionate, hard work comes easy. You invest the time needed to advance and passion inevitably leads to more cash in your pocket and higher satisfaction. But finding a passion that also pays the bills is life’s true challenge.
Growing up, my interests were in the Arts. Creating. Organizing. Problem solving. Careers in teaching, nutrition and psychology fascinated me but were discouraged due to lack of potential income. Teachers didn’t make much and with a degree in nutrition I’d likely be preparing school lunches or meals for inmates. In Psychology, income is limited by time, essentially the number of patients squeezed into each day.
Eventually though, I settled on Marketing. It was business-related and reasonable. After finishing University, I hated every minute. Tortuous sales positions were my worst nightmare. Years of feeling bored and unfulfilled quickly passed when out of the blue teaching English overseas caught my eye. Within a few months, I was on a plane to South Korea. Teaching was the first time I genuinely enjoyed my job. It was challenging and exciting and opened my eyes to so many other opportunities and experiences. Teaching gave me the confidence boost I needed.
At the end of my fourth year in Korea, I returned home to earn a Master’s Degree in Interior Design. Grad school was fast-paced and interesting but didn’t prepare me for the real world of design. Now, three years in, I enjoy what I do each day but still yearn for more (which might be why I have such itchy travel feet).
Through all this I’ve reached one conclusion. Just DO WHAT YOU LOVE and do it from day one. Don’t spend 20 years and $100,000 trying on careers that don’t make sense. Be brave enough to say, “This is what I want,” then move full speed ahead. One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, wrote about the “10,000-Hour Rule” in Outliers: The Story of Success. Gladwell claims the answer to mastering any skill is reaching 10,000 hours. Once you hit the mark, you’re officially an expert. The key is finding something worth the time.
In any case, it takes dedication and passion to accomplish a feat like this. The real trick is to turn your passion into a career. Maybe one day I’ll stumble into a passion that fills my bank account but until then, I’ll do my very best to live my waking (and working) hours with love and gratitude.