I grew up believing I would do something that would help others. This strong notion stayed with me through my childhood into my adult years. As I graduated college, I watched friends get great jobs and was truly happy for them—the pure joy of getting that first big job offer is a spectacular thing. However, as all this was happening, I began to feel isolated and alone. I should have wanted that for myself, but knew deep down the jobs laid out in front of me and the careers they led to wouldn’t make me happy. Like so many others, this mindset led me right back home with my parents after graduation.
For months, searching for a job was my full-time job. Reading through the endless positions, I couldn’t muster that feeling of excitement I saw in my friends. So I did what anyone might do—I moved out West to “find myself.” Throwing down $50 for a bike, I spent that spring and summer delivering laundry throughout the beautiful Colorado mountains, and I loved it! Unfortunately, within those months I spent my time enjoying the Rockies and seeking out my next adventure rather than seeking out a career. Before I knew it, my lease was up and I was back on the road.
After throwing out a couple of job applications, I flew to Chicago for an interview to be an Accounts Receivable Analyst. I know, not exactly the “dream job” I was looking for. At that point I figured I should take what I could get. Within five days I had gotten the offer and was moving to Chicago for my first day on the job.
Most of you can guess that it got old, fast. I quickly realized that I didn’t want a job just to pay the bills, but one that would launch my career. So I left for a new position at a highly sought-after marketing agency. This was the moment I had been hoping for. I was pumped! The learning curve was steep, and I worked harder than I ever had before. Our client was a major player in the automotive industry, and it’s safe to say I was completely caught up in it. Our client’s notoriety made me feel like a legitimate professional—like I was finally on track with what I should be doing. Long hours turned into longer days, until I was regularly working until 10pm and later. Work completely took over my life, and I dreaded the coming week. Nothing ever seemed to calm the storm of our client’s demands, or my increasing stress.
Side note: I am not complaining about long hours and hard work. I am more than happy to work my ass off, and if it’s something that truly matters to me, I freaking love it! But this didn’t matter to me. I could care less about digital marketing and climbing the corporate ladder. I wasn’t going down a path to help or inspire anyone, and I certainly wasn’t getting any fulfillment from it. After some time, I finally reached a breaking point and did the craziest thing I could have done—I quit my high-profile corporate job with no backup.
I do not recommend this for everyone. The next few months were hard, but I knew I did the right thing. I picked up part-time work as I was figuring out a plan. I seriously considered moving to several places ranging from Austin, TX to Bozeman, MT. I thought maybe if I lived somewhere “cool” a cool life would follow.
But then it finally hit me. I didn’t need to relocate to find what I was looking for. This whole time I had been obsessively listening to podcasts for inspiration, but never found one for people like me. Not just a show that offered career advice or travel stories, but one that encompassed all people who were the architects of their own lives in inspiring and unexpected ways. These are the people I connect with, and these are the people I want to hear from. People who take chances, get creative, and work hard to achieve their goals.
Now it’s my time to take a chance. Instead of searching for a career with meaning and fulfillment, I am creating one for myself. With this project, I’m taking a trip down my unbeaten path. Are you ready to take yours?