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Thursday, June 01, 2017

How to Build a Successful Career at 30

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On the eve of my 30th birthday, I remember thinking how squarely un-put-together my life was. That morning, I ran a load of laundry in the drier, but it was still soaking when I pulled it out. I forgot my laundry card upstairs so rather than run another load, I hauled the load up to my apartment and quickly sprawled the clothes over my bed in hopes they would air dry the old fashioned way while I was at work. I got back from work that night around 11pm. I had forgotten by that point about the clothes until I walked in to find my clothes everywhere. Too tired to fold them, I did what every well-reasoned adult would do: I gathered the clothes into a big pile and moved them from my bed to the couch so I could immediately fall asleep. The next morning, I rushed around bleary-eyed, folding clothes so I could still squeeze in a work out and maybe make breakfast. I wish I could say this is an unusual occurrence.

Several years ago, I started on my quest to understand what gets someone to CEO...or the next president elect of France. I began asking the most interesting and successful people I knew what they believed drove success. By far most interesting thing that stuck out to me from everyone I talked to was how in control they were of their careers. They wholeheartedly believed their career is their choice and were very proactive in shaping it in a way that suited them. It was refreshing to hear. In my twenties, I often worked so hard I felt my career was controlling me.

Now that I am an old and wise 30 year old, it was time I shared some of the lessons I had learned:

1.If You Don’t Like It, Change It

People love to complain. It’s like a rite of passage in the workplace. It doesn’t matter what job, I don’t know a single person that doesn’t do it. And I get it, people feel stuck. But you have more control than you think. I was listening to a panel the other day, when someone said “Your career is your choice: if you don’t like it, change it.” Realize if you don’t change it, you have made that decision. Now, there’s a novel idea. People often counter that it’s much harder than that. You can’t just change things. The reality is you are the only one that can. More often than not You have much more control over it than you think. We’re so preoccupied with not wanting to make a mistake and worried about not getting it right that we end up making no decision or move at all.

2.There’s No Such Thing As 100% Certainty

You may never know exactly what you want to do next and even if you do, there may never be a “right time” to do it. Without question all the people I talked to who took a risk, made a leap of faith into another career or even a leap of faith in their existing career, did it with some uncertainty. Most career choices come from a place of fear, of the unknown let’s say, rather than a place of true passion for what we’re doing.

3.There Are A Lot Of Ways To Get To The Same Place

Once you know where you want to go, there is no one way forward. You’ll come across the Cal Newport’s who advise you not to follow your passion. You’ll also come across others who advise you precisely to do just that. There isn’t any one way. You can probably get to the same place with both paths. I’ve taken a fairly traditional career approach, but it’s worked for me. I know many others who have taken a brute force approach trying to build a career on their passion from the ground up. I've seen both approaches work.

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In a nutshell, the reality is no one knows what they’re doing or where they are heading, whether they’re a chief executive or someone just getting started. Everyone one is feeling and finding their way, sensing what’s possible and intuiting what’s not.

When I turned 30 I was sure I would have life figured out by now. I can vouch that is far from true. But from what I’ve seen the most successful people are always those that take responsibility for their own careers. They shape it in a way that’s unique to them. And started doing it even at the outset, before anyone would have called them successful to begin with. My career in my twenties was all about proving myself. The closer I got to thirty the less I cared what other people thought and it gave me some freedom to pursue what I found meaningful instead. As I’ve been told, everyone who follows their own path, no matter how that shapes up, is happier for it. Let’s hope it’s true.

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Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of readers and not that of Funmy Kemmy.

I could be reached by e-mail: funmykemmy2009@gmail.com. Catch Ya!