Three years ago, I sat in your shoes. (Assuming this blog post title describes your current situation – an ambitious girl living an unfulfilled life.) I was on the pursuit of making something of myself. Something bigger than small town dreams. My strongest desire after college was to live in a big city, lit up by bright lights at night, while pursuing my dreams in the fashion industry. Little did I know what life in my 20s had in store for me.
I was working for a Fortune 500 company; a dream company for some in the oil and gas industry. It was one of the largest corporations in the world for that particular sector. I was so proud of myself for working hard to get there. But don’t get it twisted sister, I didn’t feel that I had “made it” by any means. I always knew it wasn’t where I belonged but I knew it was a part of my story.
The quick story of an ambitious girl living an unfulfilled life
It was the fall of 2014 when I started at an entry-level position. About two years later, I applied to a different role. And even though my experience didn’t fit quite well with the description, I applied anyway. I was eager to expand my horizons. So many weeks went by before knowing anything about the final decision. Finally, on a random day, the hiring manager pulled me into a huddle room and confirmed I was selected for the role. I was beyond ecstatic for a lot of reasons but when she told me the salary, I was elated. It was the exact number I had written down on a piece of paper. I mean, it was the best freakin’ news a girl could have received before taking off for one week for a family vacation. A few days later, I signed my life away on that offer letter. (Just kidding, just kidding….well, sort of kidding.)
A few months went by before things took a wild turn. The organization was restructuring, leadership was changing, and people were still getting laid off. (Layoffs started happening in the early part of 2015, which was shortly after I started.) It was a tough time for a lot of people in the oil and gas industry.
This was the timeframe I started to question everything – my existence, life, purpose, contribution, everything. I was even questioning how the hell did I end up where I was, “How am I here? What did I do to deserve a seat at the table? Why me?” You can bet doubt (aka imposter syndrome) was getting the best of my mental, emotional, and physical health. It truly felt like I didn’t deserve any of it. After all, I felt like I had faked it until I “made it”. I was simply playing the part, but in reality, I had no idea what the hell people were saying half the time. On my spare time, I would study and research the industry and company. It was the only way I knew how to catch up to my peers.
As grateful as I was for my job, especially after multiple rounds of layoffs, I knew I had a lot of soul searching to do. I could no longer lie to myself about how unfulfilled I felt. I was no longer inspired by the work I was doing. And just because it wasn’t the industry I went to college for, it doesn’t mean I didn’t give it my all. In fact, I gave myself totally and completely. I sacrificed personal time, family time, etc. to ensure I was doing the most to improve myself as a professional. All this girl wanted was to prove to herself she could climb the corporate ladder. But it didn’t take much to realize climbing the corporate ladder was not as fulfilling as I once thought. The more people I met, the more I realized how unhappy they were. And to me, that was a sad realization.
So what did this ambitious girl do?
Thankfully, by this time in my life, I knew the power of The Law of Attraction. I also read books that helped me understand how the brain works. Additionally, my spiritual journey was on a different level. The thought of not living to my fullest potential was a scary one indeed. Yes, I wanted to climb the corporate ladder and make more money. However, if my happiness (and inner peace) was at stake, I was willing to step away. There was nothing more that I desired than to live a happy, joyous, and fulfilling life.
That has always been my long-term goal.
So what did I do? I eventually stepped away.
I didn’t wake up one day and decide it was a great day to quit my job. It was far from an epiphany. (By the way, if you’re waiting for your ah-ha moment, I’m sorry…but that is unlikely to happen.) Instead, I focused on creating my escape route, plan, strategic exit, whatever you want to call it. I figured out the steps I needed to take in order to leave. And now looking back, as I reflect on the last three years, it was the best damn thing I did for myself. I feel incredibly fulfilled with my current job and the other things I do on the side, including contributing to my blog. It truly doesn’t matter what day of the week it is because I wake up feeling happy and energized to conquer most days. (Some days are tough.)
Advice on how to discover a fulfilling life
So whether you wish to leave the company you’re currently working for, or would like to change your career, the biggest tip I can give you is to come up with a game plan on how you’re going to make your next move. Outline the main steps first because the last thing you want is to obsess over the small details. Focus on the big picture and watch how the rest will fall into place. The craziest thing you could do is to leave without a plan, especially if you cannot support yourself financially.
Not sure how to begin? Try the below things to get the ball rolling:
- Determine exactly what you want. Do you want a new job? Or do you want to change careers? Do you want to move to a different city? Or would you like start your own business? Whatever it is, figure it out. Be clear about your vision and write it down. This is to remind you of your vision so you don’t stray away from it. Because trust me when I say this, it is SO easy to get distracted from the big picture.
- After writing down your vision, back track the main steps on how to get there. For example, if you want to move to a new city, start by exploring job opportunities there. Get to know the job market and determine the type of opportunities available to you. Find out the average cost of living, salaries, etc. This will help determine affordability and whatnot.
- Once you determine the main steps, set deadlines for each major step, including the last day at your current company. Most humans love having something to look forward to. It makes us excited for the future and gives us a sense of purpose. Those deadlines should also hold you accountable because the last thing you want is to be stuck in the same situation years from now.
Next, tailor your resume, portfolio, and LinkedIn based on the type of position (or job) you would like. This ensures you are prepared for future opportunities, especially the unexpected ones. It’ll save you from the stress of scrambling around last minute to get everything in order.
Because I understand how unmotivated and unfulfilling this life season can be, the third tip is to learn how to seek the positive side of things. If you are naturally a complainer, or a negative person, this is going to require a lot of effort but it’s not impossible. If you would like to learn about positive psychology, I highly encourage you to read The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. He gets scientific and covers amazing things about the brain. Also, there are many other books (and podcasts) to choose from to teach you about positive psychology. If a physical book isn’t going to cut it, try an audio book, or a podcast.
If you are lacking support at home, or at work, no worries. This is what the internet, books, and podcasts are for. You don’t need a real life mentor. I have so many mentors I have yet to meet and look forward to the day I am able to thank them in-person for their knowledge and generosity. This leads me into the next tip, which is to discover someone you look up to, and study them. Study their successes, mimic their habits, implement their strategies, and figure out what works best for you. The most important thing is to try something and adjust based on the results.
Some of my personal favorite self-help (and business) leaders include: Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Ed Mylett, Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, John Maxwell, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, and Don Miguel Ruiz.
The next tip is to wake up feeling grateful because your mood depicts your life. True story…think about it – if you wake up feeling grumpy, sad, or irritated, you don’t expect much to improve throughout the day. If anything, you continue to attract negative circumstances because chances are you are looking for the negatives in every situation.
So how do you begin to feel thankful for the things that are going well in life? You must write them down. I know, I know, woof, another thing to do. But seriously, if you start the day by writing down three things you are grateful for, you will slowly train your brain to seek positivity. Not only are you breaking negative patterns, you will also begin to uplift your mood. And when you are in a good mood, guess what happens? You attract more goodness.
The next tip is to surround yourself with positive and uplifting people. They say we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Whether you think that’s true or not, listen, the people closest to us have some type of influence over us. I don’t know about you but I love and appreciate people who are just as positive. We need happy people in our lives. Happiness and smiles are contagious. Cheesy…I know…but whatever. Also, quick side note, don’t confuse positivity with stupidity. (I know this sounds harsh but I think it’s important to note that as well.)
Last but not least, focus on what you can control. Have confidence in believing you are in control of your life. After all, you decide how to spend your time, right?
Not to mention, when you focus on the things you can control, it builds confidence. And when you feel confident, you feel good, right? So the next time something “bad” happens, let it go. Move on. Ok, ok, that was a little too straightforward, but seriously, especially the trivial things in life. Don’t let the small bad things depict how you’ll feel the rest of the day. I am constantly working on this because it’s not always easy. Remember my long-term goal? Well, in order to achieve a happy, joyous, and fulfilling life, I have to focus on what’s important and let go of the things I cannot control. Being the creator of my life, on my terms, means everything to me.
If you are that ambitious girl living an unfulfilled life, I hope you found the tips above helpful. I hope and pray you find peace in everything you pursue. Life is tough but we don’t have to face it alone. If you feel compelled to reach out, please don’t hold back. Send me a message on Instagram, or a personal note to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to provide more guidance, share more tips, or be a listening ear.
I’d like to end this with the below quotes that helped me through that tough season. I hope they resonate with you…
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”– Colossians 3:23 – 24
“And this, too, shall pass.”– Unknown
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”– Robert Collier
“I am the way and the truth and the life.”– John 14:6
Ps. For more tips on how to live a fulfilling life, check out this blog post. I poured from the heart and soul.