How much time have you spent considering what you really want to do?
Not what your friends or parents think is a good idea but what is most engaging and interesting to you?
I’ve had a couple of times in my life when I was doing things when I started to get that nagging feeling of somehow being dissatisfied, that feeling of something missing. The feeling that I was in a situation that wasn’t of my own design or creation, and one that just didn’t seem to be a fit anymore.
Each time, these feelings led to me act. Each time I tried to pinpoint exactly what felt off and then spent time figuring out what would make me feel on point again.
The first time I felt this way was after I had been working for a few years in marketing communications straight out of college. While I started out strong, my interest for the work fizzled. I was looking for bigger challenges, and I wanted to be a part of decision-making processes rather than the messenger after the fact.
So, onto business school, one of the biggest, most satisfying challenges I’ve experienced to date. The class work, the social life, the travel and the career opportunities were all exactly what I was looking for at the time. I was making progress on the “decision-making” front, too, as I interviewed for a number of general management programs at big financial services companies. Finally, I could get into some interesting, strategic work and start making some decisions!
For the five years after school, I continued to be really, really content. I was on a management track working toward something that I thought I would really enjoy. I was really looking forward to growing within a company and running my own business segment.
But then, something crazy happened. I got the promotion that I wanted, I was running my own business for a few months, and…I just wasn’t happy.
It was a combination of the type of work, the industry, the location; a number of things made me realize that what I had been aspiring to for the past five years just wasn’t feeling right.
Talk about a blow! I couldn’t believe I was back in that place again, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I went back to the drawing board, trying to figure out why I felt off and what kinds of things could make me feel on again.
So now I’m here, in New York, working full-time but running my own fashion business on the side with a good friend of mine, and this is it for now. I’m still making decisions and running a business, but in a completely different way. This is what is making me happy. Being here, starting my own creative venture, and being a small business owner.
I’m not sure how long this stage will last, but I know enough now to be sure to enjoy it while I have it figured out. And I also know that “figured out” isn’t really something that I’ll ever achieve but something I’ll be constantly working towards. Now I’m comfortable with the idea of constantly tweaking and refining my career and my life more broadly, and I listen to my gut when something’s off and do the work to determine what I need to get back on.
Don’t wait around for anyone to figure this out for you or to help you figure out what’s best for you. No company, mentor, boss or friend knows what is going to make you truly happy.
Take ownership, and look forward to shaping your own life.