“Choose a job you’ll love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius
This quote has inspired thousands of people to find work that they love to do. But it has also caused many more people confusion, frustration, and anxiety. What are you meant to do if you want to find a job that you love, but have no idea how to choose one that’s right for you?
To get some answers, I reached out to 13 inspiring women who have found success in diverse fields from tech to activism, and asked them this question:
“Based on your own experience, what's one practical tip you'd give to a twenty-something woman trying to decide on her career direction?”
Here’s what they had to say:
Kendra builds online businesses and teaches people how to embrace fear, uncertainty, and risk so they can live a life they love. You’ve got to check out her out at HeyKendra.com
“Even those who look like they "have it all figured out" still feel lost.
Feeling a few steps behind on your dream, purpose or career never fades as you age.
Even when you land your dream job, you will still have your eyes pointed toward the next "big thing." A promotion. A raise. Relocation.
Had I understood at a younger age that feeling lost when chasing "your purpose" never ends, I would have avoided a lot of stress and heartache.
The only people who don't appear to be "lost" are people you don't know very well. We are all lost. And when you realize that, you learn to settle in and ride the waves of doubt with grace and curiosity.”
In Rima’s own words she is an aspiring warrior princess! She works at social change platform Change.org, is a freelance journalist writing about issues such as women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and volunteers as a Partnerships Manager at the International Press Foundation. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rima246
“The "twenties" part of this journey can be tough (and super exciting)! Reach out and stay in touch with those who inspire you. If you trust them and they inspire goodness in you - each interaction will be memorable and will help guide you through difficult decisions. I personally feel I could have done more of this.
Lastly, weigh-up the pro and cons for the actions you take, but trust your instinct - it is more powerful than you may think.”
Anne-Marie Imafidon OBE
Anne-Marie is the co-founder of Stemettes, an award-winning UK social enterprise that works to inspire and support young women into STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths.) stemettes.org
Rosie is a Virtual Digital Content Creator & Travel Writer at www.thebeachbell.com. She grew up in four countries on two continents, and is a self-styled authority on all things beach. Follow her postcards from paradise @TheBeachBell on Instagram.
“The best advice I could give anyone starting out or searching for direction in their career is not to benchmark themselves against other people or rigid ideas. Input from others can indeed be productive, but at the end of the day, you need only adhere to your own agenda and desires, no matter how risky or frivolous they may sound. In my early twenties I landed my “dream job” in a leading ad agency. The one I studied for four years to familiarise myself with. The one I had accepted several laborious unpaid internships to train for. The one I burst into elated tears about when I found out I had been selected. The one thousands had applied for and I got. The one that looked good on paper. The one where my boss’ full-time job was the full-time bully. The one where my stress and exhaustion lead to heart palpitations. The one that eroded my passion. The one I mustered up the strength to leave with no other job to go to.
“You can’t quit your amazing job”, people told me. “You’d be crazy to leave without a better offer first”, said others. “No one else will hire you”, lamented one supposed well-wisher. As it turned out, I didn’t need anyone to hire me. Today, I work for myself as a freelance writer and social media manager and feel sensational passion in every word I write. I quit my job without a new one to go to because I decided that my health and individual happiness were far more important than what other people thought I “should be” doing or in fact, what I had always told myself I would do. If you tried something which didn’t pan out, follow the yellow brick road elsewhere. Opinions make the world go round, but sometimes you have to take people’s views with a pinch of salt. Don’t allow there to be so many cooks in your kitchen cooking your food, when only you know how you want your meal prepared.”
Meghan Hartman is the web designer and strategist behind Crafting Creative. She works with freedom-seeking female creatives to craft websites that convert through her goal-driven design process. https://craftingcreative.com
“Don't feel confined by the traditional career options. Even if you do want to be a doctor or a lawyer, the internet has given us all so much freedom in the way that we can form our ideal life and career. Also, remember that the only job that is safe is the one you create for yourself. Startups lose steam and layoffs happen to the best of us. Be your own best insurance policy by cultivating something on the side. Even though entrepreneurship isn't really taught in schools, it IS a viable career path. Live what you love. Work hard but find balance.”
Joy is an Emotional Re-Set Coach and CBT Therapist. She came to this career after working as a PA, followed by working independently for 10 years as editor & PR manager for a music company. Learn more about Joy at www.catchathought.co.uk
“It was hard to work out what my passion was. I loved fashion and being creative but got sucked up into sciences due to teachers. I feel I started off in the wrong tree! So if this is you, never knew what you wanted, thought you'd stumble across the things you love, don't get down (like I did).
Try new things, keep learning and stop being afraid of failure. Go to evening classes, read self-help books to boost your confidence, self esteem and positivity.
Never lose faith that where you are is 'where you are meant to be' (be patient). Never compare your 'beginning' to someone's middle or end. Believe that everything you learn will come together like baking an amazing cake called 'YOU'.
Life is not a straight line, where you start is not where you end up because life is an adventure ...think of it as a bowl of spaghetti!”
CERRUCHA is a Mexican ARTivist that lives in Mexico City. Her socially engaged practice is based on the exploration of human behavior and the construction of social and personal identity. Browse some of her incredible art projects at www.cerrucha.com
“Learn to listen to your intuition, practice listening and NEVER EVER let anybody else´s voice be stronger than yours when it comes to directing your life. Do not think about which jobs are better paid or what´s trending. Focus on what you want to do for this world, on how whatever YOU do is going to make it a better place. Take into consideration all the privileges you might have (class, gender, race, etc) and put them to the service of society. We need people who understand that WE ALL need to contribute to make this world better through whatever we choose to do. I believe we all have something that makes us tick, it´s just that society makes it hard to listen to that because "there´s not enough jobs in that area," or "that path might be too difficult."
When you are passionate about something you will find a way. Passion will make it bearable when it´s hard. We live in a world where it´s difficult to find a job per se, so just go for whatever makes you tick and don´t care if "there´s no jobs for that"....you´ll create one for yourself. Yes it can be done, yes it´s hard, but it´s worth it. Last but not least...BE PERSISTENT. Don´t stop because "you don´t know enough about the subject", "you don´t have that much money", or "everybody tells you that it´s not the right path". Be resilient and know beforehand that IT WILL be hard, but just hang in there until it comes out the way you want it to...because in the end...it will. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF even when nobody does.
Very important: Pick a couple of things you can be good at, diversify yourself. So even if your true calling cannot sustain you financially right now, have something on the side that can pay the bills until your passion job can. For instance, I´m a visual artist that works Human Rights issues. I do make money out of it but I also do commercial photography (that goes according to my values) as I have a specialization on that field. Help others in achieving their dreams, as it is only another way to getting closer to yours. You are not alone, build networks and never ever stop. Love - CERRUCHA”
Kortney is a writer, journalist and the founder of The Modern Jetsetter - a travel and style blog dedicated to inspiring the millennial women to travel through the world and their city in style. Check it out here: www.themodernjetsetter.com
“You can build an empire from absolutely anything as long as your vision is true, so don't distract yourself with options that fall outside your deepest passions (no matter how lucrative they are on the short term).”
Liz started her career as a TV presenter for popular UK shows like Top of The Pops. She then changed paths to study for a Masters in Wild Animal Biology. She is now a Biochemist, Wild Animal Biologist and a Presenter for amazing BBC documentaries such as Galapagos. www.lizbonnin.com
Rebecca Garcia is a passionate advocate for STEM education for youth and minorities especially women. Currently, she is a Program Manager at Microsoft within Civic Tech & Innovation for Tech Jobs Academy. http://www.geekgirlweb.com
“The only definition of success you should follow is your own--based on your happiness.”
Bre’s mission is to help digital nomads change their eating and lifestyle habits. As a digital nomad herself, she wants to help others live a healthier and more active travel life. thepositivechangeco.com
“Make 3 lists to figure out “what” you love doing, “how” you can turn your passion into a career, and “why” it’s important to you. First, write down the things you enjoy (What are you hobbies? What are you passionate about? What are you doing when you’re experiencing the most joy?) Second, write down the things you’re good at (What do people compliment you on? What do people ask for your help with? What skills or tasks come naturally to you?) Third, write down what’s most important to you (What makes you feel fulfilled and proud? What gives you a sense of purpose and meaning? What do you want to be known for and remembered by?) And then research and brainstorm possible job opportunities that already exist, products you can create, or services you can offer that combine these lists and give you an idea of what other people are already doing and have found success in pursuing. Most importantly, listen to your gut when weighing possibilities, if you don’t feel a jolt of excitement then cross it off the list.”
Kelly is a space and lifestyle design coach. She offers coaching, resources, and courses to help her clients design the life they want by strategically creating spaces that support them and help them thrive. Learn more about Kelly at www.refresheddesigns.com
“Don't stress about choosing one career that will last your whole life. We evolve and change over time, and so can our careers and passions! Pursue something you're curious about right now, without the pressure that it has to be something that will last your lifetime. Then be open to flowing where life takes you.”
Katie lives an unconventional life as a world traveller. Originally from New Zealand, she has been living abroad and travelling the world for over 13 years. Follow her adventures at theworldonmynecklace.com
“Don't be too hard on yourself and don't expect that you will know what you want to do in your twenties. Remember that you can always change direction with your career later on.”
Reading these generous pieces of advice shows us that even though everybody’s experience is unique, there are some key points that we can take away:
- Don’t look for your one purpose or a career that you expect to last for the rest of your life. Things will change and that’s okay. Do what you can to stay curious, remind yourself that where you are is where you’re meant to be and settle in to enjoy the ride.
- Take time to reflect, really get to know yourself and explore the unique contribution that you can make to the world.
- The people you choose to surround yourself with are important. Reach out to those who inspire you, but take the opinions of those who might not get what you’re doing with a pinch of salt.
I hope these incredible women have helped you to get a little bit clearer about your next career step. And I hope that they’ve inspired you to get curious about yourself, your dreams and all the possibilities that are open to you.
- Take the time to explore the awesome projects that these women are working on. Trust me, it’ll inspire you!
- Choose your favourite tip and put it into action this week. Whether it’s doing some self-reflection, appreciating your life as it is now or reaching out to someone who inspires you. Go do it!
Read the rest of the Discover Your Purpose Series:
- How to Escape a Job you Hate and Find Purpose
- How I Discovered my Biggest Passions: My 5 Step Formula
- The Complete Guide to Reconnecting With Your Dreams
- 13 Inspiring Women Reveal Their Best Tips For Finding Career Direction In Your Twenties