Life’s Roadmap to Happiness…or just a Guidebook?
One thing was never explained to me growing up: that the “roadmap” to happiness so many of us follow (graduate high school then university, get a job, get married, have kids, etc) isn’t so much of a map as a travel guide written by the people before & around us. When you arrive at some of these destinations, they aren’t always what you expected. Many of us (ex. friends of mine, colleagues & me at some point in our 30’s) look around & think,
“Is this it?!”
How I Landed on What to be When I Grew Up
I never knew what I wanted to “do with my life” in college, so I chose Business & fell into a Latin American Studies program (which turned out awesome). I figured at least I would be able to get a job and hopefully one day travel for work….that is how I started my career selling power tools as my first job out of college. I am a quick study, very passionate & highly competitive so sales has been a great match for me throughout my career. I am also creative, innovative & love psychology, so marketing became a close second to sales.
I was fortunate enough to work for 2 fantastic companies (Black & Decker, Procter & Gamble) in my professional career before recently starting on my own. Although both were “Corporate America”, the culture was completely different. I really value my time at both not only for the skills & expertise I picked up along the way, but for really seeing first hand the dynamics of working with people in different settings, under different circumstances, with diverse backgrounds and influenced by personal style + corporate mindsets. Understanding people is a lifelong journey, a skill that can really develop-especially in a successful sales & marketing person-by default…if that person is paying attention.
What’s the Point?
As you know by now, I am developing a company that will be focusing on helping people to figure out a plan for their own personal & professional development. In my travels, I find many people feel lost….the “roadmap” laid out for us from when we are young, is not specific enough to help us figure out where we are going. The real kicker, of course, is that only the individual can figure out where he/she is meant to go & what he/she is meant to do to be successful & happy. This is why I am a huge advocate of reading as well as seeking out mentors/coaches who will help you to see things in new light along the way.
Recently I spoke to a recent grad in her first job out of college & she expressed the following frustrations:
- Difficulty finding a face-to-face mentor and to build a network outside her immediate environment
- Dissatisfaction about her pay (& the concerns to pay off her student loans)
- Frustration about her career path & current workplace
Haven’t we all been there? Where is that on the roadmap?!
Learning Something Every Day is a Great Start
I spent the better part of my 20’s with similar frustrations to this young woman, throughout various assignments, companies & industries. It was only until after years of working that I realized the true value of many of the choices I made were not related to the $ amount I was compensated during each time but the depth & breadth of experience I gained. A wise manager of mine once explained to me that value is not absolute; The value or worth of and object (or an experience) is only worth what you are willing to pay for it (or sacrifice)….and it may vary between individuals.
So, as a leader, when I am faced with challenges and stuck in situations I don’t particularly enjoy, I try to ask myself, “What am I learning here? Why is this important & what will I take away?” This is particularly useful to anyone taking or giving feedback. And it makes any tough life moment-work or otherwise-a little easier to manage. The only person who can will you to grow is yourself.
The rest will come with a little hard work & patience;)
Please share your thoughts on my blog!