Last week, the Chicago Tribune published an article called Millennials: Tips on How To Pursue Your Passion, and I was fortunate enough to have been able to contribute some of my ideas (oh, and my friend Paul from All Groan Up was also featured, yayyyy Paul!).
The author of that article, the extremely talented Andreaa Ciulac, reached out to me a couple weeks earlier, and I answered several questions over e-mail.
Since I had so much to say about this topic, I feel like it might be helpful to share with you guys my answers to all of Andreaa’s questions.
Because at the end of the day, I think most of us millennials are constantly facing that internal battle: follow your passions, or sell out and work at a crappy job for money.
But I think if we change how we look at things a little bit, we’ll be a whole lot happier.
Here’s the interview:
AC: A lot of people in their twenties struggle to juggle a day job and various side gigs. Do you think that school should prepare them for that?
KB: I think school could do a better job preparing students for entrepreneurial/ freelance work. Not everyone’s going to WANT to juggle a day job and various side gigs. Some people are totally fine with just a day job. But for those of us who go after some other passion of ours, for those of us who pursue side gigs to bring in some extra income, we’d benefit from being prepared for that kind of work during our schooling.
AC: What would you advise a millennial who wants to find a compromise between “what needs to be done” ( a day job that pays for rent and everything else) with “what they want to do” (their true passion: acting, singing, web designing etc.)?
KB: First thing I’d tell them is that it’s 100% totally possible. It’s possible to have a day job that bores you to tears while also pursuing your true passion on the side. I’ve lived this. I’ve been blogging for 4 years now, and pursuing freelance writing. But you know when I get to do that? When I get home from work. Monday through Friday from 8am -4:30pm I work at a super stressful not-so-creative desk job. Do I go to work thrilled every day? No, but I’m good at what I do and my job pays the bills. I can’t afford to give that up. But as soon as I get home, I get to tap into my creativity with my blogging, and now, because of the pursuit of my passion for writing, I’ll soon be publishing my very first book, Corporate Survival Guide For Your Twenties. But I’d also mention that it’s not easy. It’s not easy to work full time and still have energy to pursue your other interests. There are days when I’m absolutely exhausted, and when I get home from my corporate desk job, I have zero brain power left. So it’s definitely hard work, but when you want something bad enough, you find just a tiny bit of extra brain power and you get it done!
AC: How can young people who currently have a stable income take smart, calculated steps towards their ideal career, because some quit their jobs thinking that’s the way and end up sleeping on their parents’ couches.
KB: Quitting you day job isn’t the way to go. Sure, it sounds awesome to go up to your boss, quit your job, and spend the next year traveling, working on your photography. It makes for good stories. But the reality is, we need money, guys. We need to pay our bills. So until you’re making enough money to support yourself, you can’t just say “peace out” to your day job. But you can take smart steps towards your ideal career, that you can do. Start off by cutting your spending as much as you can. The less money you need, the sooner you’ll be able to transition to a lower income dream job. Then, you need to build your portfolio. No one’s going to hire you unless you can show them that you have experience, so take some time while you ARE employed to build up the experience you need for your ideal career. Since you have a job, you’ll be a whole lot likelier to land some side gigs, specifically because you’ll be in a financial position to offer your services either for free or at a much lower rate than other more experienced professionals.
AC: What would be the most common roadblocks that might keep back a young person from pursuing their so-called true passion? The sense of financial security? The fear of not ‘making it’ or being good enough? The shame of disappointing their parents?
KB: I think the biggest roadblock is money, to be honest. Sometimes we’re happy with the salary we’re making at our day job, and don’t have the interest or the courage, or simply can’t afford to take a pay cut. Because when you ask people, “what would you be doing if money wasn’t a factor?” their response is usually something they’re passionate about. But as passionate as you are about anything, you also need to feed yourself and have a roof over your head. I think we can deal with the shame of disappointing our parents. They’ll get over it eventually. I mean, they should want us to be happy, right? And I think that more than any other generation, millennials want to be happy. We’re very much interested in our own happiness, so we’ve taken everyone else’s opinion off the table, and we’re whole-heartedly going after the things we want in life. And I think that’s why millennials are going to be the most successful generation yet. We may not be the richest generation. We may be paying off student debt until we die, but we’re going to be doing things that matter to us, and that’s going to make us happy. We’re redefining success as a generation, and success to us today has a lot more to do with our happiness than it does with our bank accounts.
AC: Would you advise people to look for a mentor?
KB: When looking for a mentor, obviously look for someone who’s approachable and someone who’s successful in a field that you’re somewhat interested in. But your mentor doesn’t have to be a CEO. Your mentor doesn’t have to be the absolute smartest person in town. The person you choose to be your mentor should be someone whose lifestyle you’re interested in having. Someone who can teach you how to stay sane, navigate your career field, but also maintain a work-life balance to make sure you don’t give up on your personal life and the things important to you besides work.
AC: How should they prevent failures from becoming a traumatic episode that will keeps them stuck in an unsatisfying career?
KB: I’m really good at interviews. You know why? Because I’ve applied to so many jobs and not gotten them. At one point in my career I was absolutely miserable. I was working at a job where I was bored every damn day of my life, and I knew I had to find something else. So I started interviewing, and eventually, after countless rejections, someone gave me a shot and hired me. Today, I’m so much happier than I used to be. But I could have taken the rejection personally. I could have cried in my room every night, but where the heck does that get you? Nowhere. It gets you nowhere. So instead, I learned to embrace rejection. I learned to use it in my favor. Every rejection just meant that I was getting closer to my goal, and in the meantime, I was learning an important skill. I learned to love failure, because it meant that I was actually doing something. You can’t fail if you’re sitting on your couch doing nothing, but that’s not the life I wanted. I wanted a life where I wasn’t afraid to go after things, and that has made all the difference.
AC: How should millennials find a balance between our society’s obsession with both passion and money?
KB: I think you find a balance when you learn that you don’t have to be 100% passionate about your day job. I think it’s okay to accept that your day job isn’t always going to be this magical place that you love waking up to. You’ll have good days, and you’ll have bad days, and every once in a while, you’ll find that you’re passionate about a certain part of your job. For me, yes, I have a stressful day job in a big supply chain department. Do I always love it? No. But you know what I DO love? Fixing problems. I love helping people get out of messes, so I focus on the aspect of the job that I like, and that’s what helps me get through the day. And my passions? I still pursue my passions, I just don’t necessarily always go after them while at work. There’s no one stopping you from going after your passions during your free time, and if you wait until you can perfectly align your passions and making a decent living, you may end up waiting forever.
AC: What do you want young people to take away from your blog?
KB: I want young people to know that they’re not alone in this crazy world of being a grown up. Because it’s hard, and we’re so completely unprepared for the adult world. But I want them to know that it’s okay to not always have all the answers. I also want to empower them to go after everything they want from life, and I don’t want them to let anyone else, or the stereotypes that exist for young people to stand in their way. We can do big things if we have the courage to go after them, so more than anything, I want to inspire young people to do just that.
AC: What if they end up deciding that their dreams are not worth the struggle? Would that be acceptable?
KB: If someone ends up deciding that his or her dream isn’t worth the struggle, then yea, I have to think that’s acceptable. I think we know ourselves best, and we’re the drivers of our own lives. We’re willing to fight for our dreams when we know they’re worth it, but if they’re not worth it anymore, then I have to think it’s actually quite smarter to give up on them and put them to rest. Who knows? Maybe it’s not the right time in our life to go after that particular dream. Maybe we can pursue it later? But if you’re not feeling it anymore, it’s better to put your time into something else that you do believe is worth it.
AC: What is your experience? How did you manage to not get stuck in a position that gave you some sort of financial security?
KB: I’m still here. At this point in my life, I’m one of those compromisers, and at the moment, I’m totally okay with that. I go to work, do a good job, and when I get home, I pursue my other interests. Sure, it’s exhausting sometimes, basically working two jobs as a part-time blogger, but it gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction, and can’t picture a life where blogging isn’t a part of it.
AC: What about taking a job somehow close to the one you really want? For example, for someone looking to be a singer, but has no connections in the industry, might they be better off working for a recording studio?
KB: I think that’s an incredibly smart thing to do! What better way to learn the industry you’re so passionate about? Not only would that allow you to learn a whole lot about something you’re interested in, but you’d be surrounded by things that you genuinely like and appreciate, and I can’t possibly think that would be a bad thing.
AC: What would you respond to those who say that they have no time to follow their dreams?
KB: It’s cliché, but if that’s the case, they don’t want them badly enough. Not having enough time isn’t an excuse. When you want something badly enough, you make time to do it. If there’s a Christian Louboutin sale at Nordstrom and they’re giving away shoes for $5, as busy as I am, I promise you I’m spending all day in line to get them. Everything is relative, and it’s all about how badly you want something. No one has time to follow their dreams, but those of us who want to achieve them badly enough will always find the time to make them happen. We may be a bit sleep deprived, we may have to miss out on some social functions, but we always get it done!
AC: How long before they should call it quits? A year, a decade?
KB: Like I mentioned before, until it’s no longer worth it to you. If it’s no longer bringing you happiness, don’t waste your time. There’s no particular time frame, I think if you’re really honest with yourself, you’ll know when it’s time to call it quits.
AC: How to deal with family pressure to “play it safe”?
KB: Your family wants the best for you. They want to make sure you don’t end up sleeping under a bridge, so you can’t really blame them for that. However, you need to make sure that the career decisions you make are made for you ONLY. You’re the one that has to wake up every day and go to work, so you have to do what’s best for you.
AC: Where does one finds motivation?
KB: I find motivation in reading about other people who are successfully living their dreams. I don’t envy their success, not one bit. I don’t look at them like, “Ugh, you’re so annoying, I hate you because you’re so fabulous.” Instead, I let them motivate me to reach my goals, and I learn as much as I can from their success. As a blogger, there’s nothing better than reading other blog income reports, because it shows me that it IS possible to make money online, and the reports give me tons of ideas on how I can monetize my blog.
AC: Would a part-time job be the answer to all problems because it leaves time for other projects?
KB: Part time jobs would be ideal, but only if you’re certain that between your part-time job and your side gigs you can make enough money to support yourself. Otherwise, you’re just going to be super stressed out all the time, trying to make ends meet.
AC: Millennials are known for their job-hopping habit. Do you think that it’s a bad strategy when trying to find meaningful work?
KB: If you’re ever going to job hop, the time to do it is when you first start working. That’s the time to try different things and figure out what you like and don’t like. The sooner you can figure that out, the happier you’re going to be with your career long-term. So don’t get suckered into sticking with a crappy job for two years just because you don’t want it to look bad on your resume. Most employers will understand that you’re young, and that you’re still trying to find your place in the workforce. And actually, the fact that you’re interested in finding meaningful work that you’re passionate about should show your potential new employers that you take your work seriously, and that you’re simply looking for the right fit.
And that’s it guys! Hope you found that somewhat helpful! And for those of you looking to find that balance between passion and work, I have total faith in you! You got this. And if you’re ever stuck and just have zero idea what to do, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll do my best to give you my two cents!
Want more career advice? Pre-Order my new Book!:
Books on blogging to help you take your blog to the next level:
- Building A Framework
- Blog, Inc.
- Creative, Inc.
- How To Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul
- 365 Blog Topic Ideas: For The Lifestyle Blogger Who Has Nothing To Write About
- Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job, Kill It In Your Career, Rock Social Media
- Crush It
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
Books to help you deal with your twenties:
- 101 Secrets For Your Twenties
- Life After College
- The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter & How To Make The Most of Them
- Adulting: How To Become A Grown Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps
- All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and A Freaking Job!
Other stuff you might like:
- Generation Y Redefines Success
- How To Be Rich in Your Twenties
- The 5 Most Valuable Lessons Grad School Taught Me
- Pursue a Lifestyle, Not a Job
- Why It’s Okay to Be Excited About the Awesome Stuff You’re Doing
- Why We Need to Get Over Our Fear of Rejection
- Don’t Wait, Be Happy Now
- The 5 Best Investments You Can Make in College
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