You know what I think is crazy? The idea that we have to put our futures in the hands of other people.
We do it all the time. And we’re pretty much taught that we have no other choice.
Except that we do.
At least I think that we do. (In fact, you wouldn’t be on GenTwenty right now if I hadn’t. So there’s that.)
In my time as an entrepreneur, I have tried many different ways to take both myself and GenTwenty to the next level. I have turned down opportunities that don’t fit with my vision, I have kept advertisements off the site because I believe in authenticity and minimal distractions. I don’t want you to be distracted from value we’ve created here.
I’m here to build a community of twenty-somethings who feel empowered enough to make their own choices and to provide the resources for you to do that.
Here are five methods I’ve utilized over the past three years to find my purpose, find GenTwenty’s purpose, and take us both to the next level.
1. Get out of your comfort zone.
They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone, but I think life begins way outside of your comfort zone. I also think it’s totally unreasonable to think you can go from your comfort zone to somewhere completely different and think that it’s all going to be okay.
As someone who is extremely introverted and deals with anxiety, I get you. It probably won’t be okay. Which is why it’s so important that we make tiny efforts to expand our comfort zones so that we can eventually get to the place that’s way outside of our comfort zone.
Comfort zones are just that — comfortable. But they’re also something else — completely the same. Nothing will ever change from staying inside your comfort zone. Life is meant to be lived! And work is meant to be loved.
I know how much effort it takes to get away from that. Your comfort zone is reliable. But when you know exactly what to expect, you aren’t giving yourself the space you need to grow.
So how exactly do you start taking these little steps to get out of your comfort zone?
Just take it day by day. Make little changes here and there to give yourself positive momentum and build up your confidence.
In the next week, I challenge you to:
- Walk a new route home.
- Attempt learning one new thing (some ideas: a language, a new recipe, calligraphy).
- Strike up a conversation with a stranger.
- Comment on a new blog or make a new online connection through Twitter or by posting in a Facebook group.
- Share a goal you’ve set for yourself with someone else.
These are super small steps, but they will make the biggest difference in getting you out of your comfort zone. Remember: It’s not about the big leaps, it’s about the tiny steps.
2. Network your way up.
If you read this and thought, “Wait, I thought you said we weren’t putting our futures in the hands of other people?” What is going on here?
Well my friend, the cold hard truth is that humans are social.
We rely on each other to open ourselves up, form connections, build relationships. If networking wasn’t important, our entire society would fall apart.
If the word networking grinds your gears, think of it as connecting instead. Connecting isn’t schmoozy or sleazy.
Connection should always be two things:
Connection is genuine when it comes from a place of truth. Connection is saying “Hey, I think we’re interested in the same things!” or “I really admire the way you do X.” or “Your last blog post was awesome. Would you be interested in guest posting on my blog?”
Connection starts with a brief introduction. This is the “get to know” you phase. You might not get past this phase with some people, and that’s ok. But you might make it way past there. Or you might know someone who would love the person you just met. Connecting is simply creating a network of like-minded individuals who share a purpose, a passion, an industry, a goal, a work ethic, or an interest. Your network simply brings those people together.
The key here is to know people.
That starts with getting out of your comfort zone. Connecting begins with meeting people. Networking your way up means that your network will help you open doors, just like you would if the situation were reversed.
Your goal: Expand your network by three people every week.
Ideas on how to do this: Reach out on Twitter, send a cold email, ask someone for coffee, comment on a blog post.
It all adds up. Provide value to your network and your network will return the favor.
3. Invest in yourself.
If you’ve gone to college, you’ve invested in yourself. If you’ve listened to a webinar, downloaded a workbook, taken an e-course — you’ve invested in yourself.
Investing in yourself is the key to making yourself valuable and taking your career to the next level.
The thing about investing in yourself is that no one else can do it for you. You have to show up and make 100% of the effort. Otherwise, you are only wasting your time and probably your money, too.
Investing in ourselves looks a little different for everyone. It can be different depending on your industry where practical experience may be more important than certifications (or vice versa).
Ultimately, it is taking the time to make sure you are being the best that you can possible be.
There are always new things to be learned, new skills to master, new projects to complete. All of these things are self-investments.
Your task: Brainstorm three things you can accomplish in the next three months that will increase your skills and overall value as an employee.
Start by asking yourself: What does my company value? What do my clients value from me?
What skills are necessary in your industry? What skills will be more valuable three years from now? That’s where you start.
4. Change the way you think about “work.”
What is work, really? Is it making an income? Is it helping people? Is it doing something you’re proud of? Is it working with money? Is it providing a service? What does “work” mean to you, where you are right now?
Work, by definition is:
(1) activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result
(2) mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment
While we all should be making an income from the work we do and the value we provide, the first definition sounds much more appealing.
Everyone has time. And while at the heart of the matter you will be giving time to your work, it’s the value that that time creates that makes the money worth it.
Instead of thinking of work as exchanging money for time, think of it as exchanging money for value.
It is in the value that you provide where you will find your purpose.
When you think of your job right now — does it align with your purpose?
What if you don’t know what your purpose is? I understand.
Your twenties are a confusing time. We’re all just trying to get by, make enough to repay our student loans, and afford brunch on Saturday. Yep, I’ve been there too.
I believe purpose is at the heart of finding work you love.
Our flagship e-course, Finding Purpose in Your Career, has 5 modules, worksheets, exercises, bonus challenges, and video content to help you discover your purpose.
I’ve put my own purpose into creating this course. I can’t say it is going to spit out an answer to you, but if you show up, put in the work, and invest in yourself, the tools in the course will help you find the purpose that fuels your career.
5. Don’t let hearing the word “no” stop you.
There was a time when the word “no” was the end of the line, and it often came early on. These days, we have amazing resources at our fingertips and access to people in ways we never have before.
Take Twitter for example; even major celebrities, journalists, and brands respond to comments, and engage with users on the platform. Most people are available in some way, shape, or form. It’s up to you to get their attention in a positive way.
It comes down to this: It’s easier than ever to bypass gatekeepers.
Gatekeepers are the people who let you in versus turning you away. They are the automated systems, the publicists, the social media managers. But these days you can skip those people entirely if you know how to go about it.
You could wait around to get an email back from the automated abyss you’ve been submitting your resume to. Or, you could email the hiring manager directly after hunting down their email address through LinkedIn.
Never be afraid to take the extra step or go the extra mile. It’s never crowded.
The worst thing that could happen is that they will send you in another direction or let you know you’re not a good fit. But at least then you’ll have an answer and can move on to more possible opportunities.
The most important thing to remember though is that people still have the right to tell you “no” and we need to respect that right.
“No” is not the worst thing you can hear, and should be taken with a grain of salt. Use someone else’s “no” to motivate you to push that much harder to follow your dreams and reach your goals.
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘No’ is not the worst thing you can hear, and should be taken with a grain of salt. ” quote=”‘No’ is not the worst thing you can hear, and should be taken with a grain of salt. “]
So there we have it — 5 Ways to Take Your Career to the Next Level.
By changing your mindset, you can change your life. In my experience, purpose is the core of understanding the value you provide.
I think you have a purpose that no one else can even touch.
Our experiences are all so unique. What we bring to the table cannot be replicated, but needs to be uncovered.
If you take nothing else away from this article, I want you to know that I deeply believe that you deserve to have work that fuels you. And I hope you believe it, too.