I had to do it. I could no longer wait. The longer I waited to pursue my purpose, the more I suffered. Feelings of pressure and anxiety continued to build as I battled questions of position, pay, and purpose. The longer I stayed at a job where my talent was not truly valued, and was constantly treated as less than a professional, the more I took blows in what felt like a professional boxing match.
For years, I delayed pursuing my vocation as a full-time professional speaker and life coach for job security and a consistent check. Although I had consistently preached and coached others to “take big risks,” pursue their callings over a career, and capitalize on their gifts and talents, I realized that I had not taken my own advice. Frankly put, the thought of leaving my salaried job for the unknown, terrified me. On top of making major career changes, I had recently turned thirty and had not achieved the financial or professional success that I had envisioned.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon psychologist Jeffrey Arnett and his research on what he calls, “emerging adulthood.” In his research, Arnett describes emerging adults as the end of adolescence to young adulthood; which ranges from ages 18-29. In this phase, there are three key features that define the nature and characteristics of what these individuals value and experience:
1. Identity exploration
3. Endless possibilities
The better part of my twenties had been spent exploring what I wanted and expected for my work-life, school life, educational experiences, and personal relationships. I worked in television, education, corporate America, ministry, and had consistently served as a consultant. However, as more opportunities arose, the more I began to question what I thought was my vocation. With career changes, I became increasingly more uncertain about the directions that my life would take and where I would ultimately land.
Fortunately, Arnett contends that emerging adulthood is the age of endless possibilities as this age-group pursues career choices, cultural experiences, and geographic locations over a more traditional approach. Emerging adults expect a well-paid job that they consider as personally meaningful in favor of jobs that merely provide a consistent check.
My leap of faith taught me several things about myself, but also helped me to think more about the advice that millennials (such as myself) could benefit from:
1. Know your worth—when are confident in who you are, the pursuit of competence and success is easy and any of your aspirations seem realistic and attainable.
2. Own your gifts, talents, and calling- Quit settling for jobs that do not advance your talents and gifts. The more you pursue these types of career choices, the more you will experience feelings of burn-out, anxiety, and lack of purpose. No matter your desire, your job or career choice will serve as a key component of your brand. What story will your brand tell about you?
3. Tap into your abilities –Oftentimes, the professional skill-set that we possess gets clouded along our professional journey. As we move from and throughout different institutions, we must adapt to their needs and requirements, often leading us to forget what drew us to that organization from the outset.
Once I made up my mind to leave my full-time job as an educator to pursue my work as an independent life-coach and author, I knew I had left my comfort zone. It was this very discovery that led to me writing my book While You Were Out From “Work.” I knew that despite my plan, not everyone would understand what I was doing. The reality is, when you make a decision to pursue YOUR journey, sometimes only YOU will be equipped to understand your vision. While working your vision, you will experience discomfort, bumps, failed plans, and a total re-assessment of your life. Professional growth always comes at a cost. It is never easy. And sometimes you will have to jump in order to know where you will land.