As my graduation date fast approached, I spent nearly every day submitting multiple job applications with hope that someone would give me a call back. Just a couple weeks before graduation, I accepted a full-time offer in corporate America as a business analyst. This entire process was not so much focused on finding a job that I would love, but rather something that I just felt I was obligated to do. I graduated with a double major from the School of Business, so getting any sort of business analyst role meant that I was on the right track, right?
From day 1, I made it my mission to: work harder than anyone else, get promoted as fast as possible, and earn as much money as possible. I was a top soccer player as a kid and also earned a scholarship at my university to play on the team; this was my competitive nature coming out. Looking back, I achieved everything I set out to do. I was well-respected and known as a go-getter by my colleagues, I earned the promotion I desired, and I was making a healthy salary. Then one day, even with another promotion likely around the corner, I decided to leave it all behind and move to Singapore in order to pursue a role with a startup.
1) Excelling at a job you don’t love will lead to a dead end. Pursue your passions instead.
With my relentless work ethic, I rapidly earned the respect of my colleagues and “climbed the corporate ladder," so to speak. Many members of management would frequently joke that one day they would all be working for me. While the praise was flattering, I didn't truly feel excitement at the thought of sitting in that sort of chair anymore. So what happened to the guy who wanted to earn promotions and earn as much money as possible? Wouldn't this be the dream scenario?
Don't get me wrong, I had a fantastic job and worked with wonderful people, but I knew deep in my bones that I was no longer fit to stay in corporate America anymore (particularly in the industry I was in). When I accepted my initial offer, I didn't pay attention to the industry nor what sort of role I would play. Instead, I treated my career as a competition against myself and my peers to earn money and respect. Once I had achieved that, life at work started to get increasingly boring because I simply didn't feel a connection to the work I was doing. At the end of the day, the amount of effort and hours I expended didn't feel gratifying anymore.
I consumed countless articles, videos, and podcasts that preached about doing what you love. Friends of mine were off starting their own businesses, going back to school to further perfect their craft, and others even went off to travel the world. I envied their ambition while I sat in an office every day. Finally, instead of aimlessly wishing, a switch in my head went off. I sat deep in reflection and discovered that my passions aligned with: entrepreneurship, the green economy, the shared economy, health & fitness, and food & beverages. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in one or more of these industries, and I longed to be able to see direct and positive impacts on other people's lives as a result of my work.
I'm sure many of you are curious, and no, I have not found a job yet. I am actively spending my time researching various startups that peak my interest and also furthering my knowledge within these industries. Dedicating my time to research and to explore what is truly meaningful to me has done numbers for my mental health and self-satisfaction. Although I have not picked up a paycheck for a month, I can say without hesitation that I have not wasted a single minute of any day since I left my job, and that is powerful.