Are You Chasing a Dream or Building a Career?

What’s the Best Career for You?

Isn’t this the age old question that we all face at some point – or in my case, multiple points? It’s definitely fun to waste some time on the goofy online quizzes like those on Buzzfeed. It forces you into a conversation about what makes you happy. I like this one: What Career Should You Have? My result was Astronaut. While I do very much love adventure and science, I don’t think I could pass that gravity test.

What is a Career Really?

I’m not sure if the concept of a career still exists in today’s society. What is a Career. Dying at DeskGrowing up, it was enforced that we would go to college, figure out a career, find a job, and stay at said job until we retire or die (whichever happens first). By the time I was in college, the world was rapidly changing – technology, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, and of course the birth of social networking. Every year it seemed that the definition of a career was changing. By 2009, there was no such thing as a career – just luck that you had a job at all.

Work or Die

Even though it has been several years since the economic meltdown (lovingly nicknamed the “great recession” of 2008), the same secure job is what so many people stick to. Every day we exchange our time and talents for money, to buy things from other people who are making the exact same exchange. This is one of the most cyclical things going on our lives – like running in the hamster wheel – yet, so many of us refuse to recognize this fact, so we keep running and hoping for something to change. Isn’t that the definition of crazy?

Happy vs Wealthy

Why can’t we have both? I wish I could tell you that we can all have both; but that would be an outright lie, and it’s just not my style to play that game with people. Some people can definitely have both happiness and wealth, and we should all strive to achieve both. I love music and singing, but at the end of the day I need to be realistic. Singing does not pay the bills, and I’m not nearly talented enough to pursue it further than an activity of enjoyment. BUT THAT IS OKAY BY ME. Not everything you love can be your income generator. I also love to create ideas, communicate and connect with people. Doing that pays my bills, and still makes me happy.

There’s a reason that the phrase “Achieving a Goal” insinuates success and “Chasing a Dream” insinuates wasting time. I used to dream about being an actress on Broadway (age 14) or a powerful band manager (age 16); but I also imagined myself as an entrepreneur who was going to make a change in my community (age 13).

Once you take the time to filter through your many dreams and realize that one of your dreams is actually a goal, then you can stop running and go achieve it. When it is just a dream it remains as nothing more than part of your sleep cycle. Are you done dreaming yet?

Run, Achieve goals, set goals, CEO Candi

Set Your Goals and Run Toward Them

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46 Girls Changed My View in 46 Seconds

3 Powerful Moments

I drove along a rocky and winding trail to a series of cute white cabins and a larger building that I would later discover is the dining hall. Though I have done a million presentations and workshops before, the butterflies were there reminding me that I will always be 10 at heart.

Moment 1 – The Energy

As I stepped into the dining hall, I could feel the energy coming from this group of powerful young women. Smiles, waves and friendly glances in my direction as I walked through the space – that’s all it took to pull me into their energy.

Moment 2 – The Sound

The chanting began. Without instruction or request, the girls began to sing a song. It sounded like nonsense words at first, but a song book was quickly offered so that I could follow along. They simply love to sing and chant fun songs with empowering lyrics.

Moment 3 – The Fearlessness

Suddenly it was my turn to stand up. We went around the room offering up what we want to be one day. There was a ton of honesty in the “I don’t knows” and confidence in those who said multiple careers at once. No fear in this group.

Camp Lantern Creek

46 Girls Changed My View

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being the Bright Lights Speaker at Camp Lantern Creek (also called CLC) in Montgomery, Texas. CLC is the camp that you send your incredible daughter to so that she can try a little bit of everything with other awesome girls while surrounded by the beautiful outdoors. They coin the camp’s focus as developing renaissance girls, but it is so much more than that.

For a while, I thought that it was most important for me to be working with women in college and in their twenties. Those are the women who need the most help with understanding business, finance and how to succeed – right? No! If you delay learning or thinking about these things, then it is much harder to develop the critical skills related to being successful.

Tweens and teens – that’s where it’s at.

During the hour and a half that I spent with these 46 powerful young women, I could see that today’s girls are the risk takers, creative thinkers, and collaborative workers of tomorrow. It was in the small moments throughout the day that I saw glimpses of powerful leaders and entrepreneurs. I could see more potential in a 12 year old girl than I’ve seen in most any adult that I’ve met.

If you want to shape the world in a positive image, then start with the girls.

 

Looking Ahead into 2014

“It was tumultuous, it was crazy, but I would not trade it for anything.” Colin Quinn

That is how I feel about 2013, and I know I”m not alone. Many of my friends and family had a similarly challenging year filled with change and transitions. While it was difficult, the events of 2013 were part of the larger journey we continue along this year. As I reflect and “prepare” for the year ahead, I’m thinking about three big things:

What are my priorities this year? What are the goals associated with those priorities? What systems am I putting in place to assure that I achieve those goals?

Priorities

  • Career – I am focusing on my marketing/writing work primarily with just one company, but how does that affect my bigger dreams of creating a business to help the creative class?
  • Finance – Money smarts and activity are getting more attention this year.
  • Love – Last year I was lucky to start the year off by meeting an incredible guy. Throughout the year I had moments of not giving him enough of my focus or energy. This year he will get the best of me.
  • Friends – I worked on my interpersonal skills and being a good listener in 2013, so I want to give that additional attention and deepen my existing relationships.

Goals

  • Create a plan for balancing my paying work with my business dreams
  • Get more involved in the music community in Austin
  • Develop a more strategic way to handle my money and investments
  • Learn more about finance and investing
  • Be a great listener

Systems

  • Once a week for a minimum of 1 hour (on Sunday mornings) I will set aside time to work on my business dreams. This can be in the form of a meeting with someone in the industry or just research.
  • Begin taking voice lessons 1-2 times a month. After 3 months of practice, begin teaching voice lessons again.
  • I am signed up for a 4 week class titled Investing for Beginners, and I’ll continue with my Women’s Investing Group meetings every month to further my knowledge.
  • I will create an updated budget that includes expenditures as well as projected income. The first draft of this budget must be complete by January 12th, and the finalized budget by the end of February.
  • Once a day take time to fully listen to someone tell a story – giving my complete attention, not interrupting with comments, asking minimal follow-up questions, not getting distracted by my own thoughts that relate, and using simple body language to confirm to my speaker that I am listening.

Goals and Systms Checklist 2014

The Transformative Power of Passion

I recently watched this wonderful TED talk by Benjamin Zander. If you choose to skip through the video, make sure not to miss his performance toward the end.

What an incredible man with such love and passion for music. From the moment he played that first note I went to this place deep in my mind that is pure and untouched by the real world. It is a beautiful and safe place for me to be.  When he finished playing, I let out a deep sigh and remembered the old feeling of connecting to something beyond other people. It has been a little too long since I’ve felt so centered.

I admit that I absolutely LOVE Classical Music. I love all kinds of music, but there is something so special, so unique, and so important about the way composers wrote (and some still write) for that genre. As much as I enjoy jumping around to a 4 chord progression in a cheesy pop-punk song by bands like The Starting Line, Say Anything and New Found Glory, it just doesn’t have the same effect on my brain.

It’s time to start singing again. Music led me to a good place once and I have to believe that it will happen again.

Mozart. Voi Che Sapete

When to Give Up

Lately I have been fed up with this lifestyle. Freelance work takes twice as much effort and, after taxes, pays about the same as a regular job. How am I supposed to work on my own business when all I do is worry about money and working enough hours? It’s a terrible cycle.

The other night I got to the point where I wrote, “I give up on this stupid idea” in my journal. I continued on writing, “My stupid business is just an idea, a concept or conversation topic. It is nothing. I am nothing.” Yes, it was mellow dramatic, but that is what journals are for. As I continued to write, my thoughts became a series of evasive questions.

Why is starting this business so important to me?
What am I really doing with my career?
Aren’t I just going to end up failing anyway?

Eventually I got to a point where I remembered my hidden light. “There is this ever so slight glimmer left inside of me. It sparkles in the back of my eye where only I can truly see it. The spark of hope, inspiration, courage, and love lives in my crazy idea.”

Do What You Love, Career Inspiration

Over the past few months, my social life has rolled downhill. My poor boyfriend has put up with a few too many of my mini-breakdowns. The balance in my bank account has shifted. And my skin looks like I’ve been beating myself up. Despite all of this, I’ve kept going.

I can’t go on living my life not knowing the end of this story, especially when it feels like I’m nearing the end of the boring intro chapters. I have no idea what it is inside of me that is driving me forward with such strong motion because it lies so deep that it cannot be explained – it’s just who I am.

Well, I guess that’s the answer to my question. I cannot give up until I know the end of this story.

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Music Review

The M.I.A. song “Bad Girls” from 2012 is fun, goofy and makes you want to dance. Listening to it led me to search for her newest release – Y.A.L.A. She released the track on Sound Cloud as a teaser, and I listened to it a few times. The sound is totally M.I.A. style, which I love. The use of the synth is a little heavier than usual, so she may be diving further into the electronica sound while still inter-weaving her hip-hop vocal prowess. I guess we’ll find out more when the album is released.

M.I.A. You Always Live Again

Passion, Money, Success, and Chaos

Why did you choose your current job or career? 

Was it for the money and success? Was it for the expression of your passion and interest? No matter what reason for your choice, there will always be chaos and imperfection at times.

I believe that life should be full of passion. My significant other always tells me that he works hard so that he can do the things he enjoys most, and that the job (in the end) does not really matter. As long as he can be a high-performing team member, then the chaos is worth it. We often disagree about this point. While he claims to not necessarily “like” what he does, I think he secretly loves it. The level of detail in and organization of software development interests him, and it helps that it is a lucrative career. My love of music, art and creativity does not always tie me into lucrative roles. Though we do not always agree, I appreciate the fact that he questions me. I look closely at my driving force everyday because I am reflecting on the questions he pushes me to ask of myself.

Is it better to earn a steady paycheck now, and you can enjoy your passions during free time?

I could take a high-paying marketing role with an established corporation. It’s likely that I would enjoy it to some degree, and I would appreciate the safety of the regular income. But is that really the kind of person I am? Sometimes the best thing to focus on (other than income) is your ultimate career purpose. When I look back at my career 5 or 10 years from now, what will that picture look like?

life choices

It is hard enough to choose the right pastry. How will I choose the right career path?

Confidence and Negotiation

Own it – your future, your finances, your role in a company.
If you don’t own it, then it will own you.

When we are fresh out of school and excited about stepping into the working world, we are willing to be pushed around and told what to do. In some ways, that is okay when you are 23 years old and finding your place & your voice within a company. However, if you are 30 years old and still letting the company decide your future it is time to step up and own it.

Recognize Your Value

You bring something valuable to the company. Throughout your work, school and life experiences you have honed a skill that brings value and gains profit for the company. If you are in marketing (like me) then it is difficult to see that dollar amount, but I promise that you make a difference.

Professional Development

No matter how good you are, there is ALWAYS something new to be learned. Take the time to perfect your abilities and learn new complimentary ones.

  • Marketers – learn about your product inside and out. If it is a technology, then at least learn how to speak some of the lingo.
  • Developers – learn how to communicate with non-techies (please).
  • Designers – if you haven’t already, then learn HTML and CSS. Whether you like it or not, you will eventually need to know it.
  • Financers – learn more about the product/service and how the marketing and public relations teams interact with the public.
  • Account Managers – if you are not already managing projects, then learn more about project management. Otherwise, get more involved in finance and the client goals.
  • Creatives/Artists – learn about finance and management. I know you hate that stuff, but you will bring so much more value to the team if you understand it.

Research

Before you start negotiating with a supervisor about money or positions, take the time to do the research. There are a plethora of online resources that can help you figure out your worth.  Make sure to account for the years of experience and city you are living in when you do this research.

Make a Plan

How long have you been working with this company? What is the trajectory for your continued growth? Where do you see yourself professionally in 6 months, 1 year and 3 years? Once you feel you know the answers to these questions, then schedule time to discuss your future with a supervisor or human resources. Take a deep breath and (in your head) repeat the mantra “I am a valuable employee and deserve to be treated as such.”

For more advice, check out this article How to Ask for a Raise

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Music Review

Meiko (untitled album)

She has a pretty voice, but it reminds me of too many other singers. Her music does not feel unique to me, and I value musicians with a truly unique sound. I enjoy her music in the background, but I do not foresee going to see her in concert or spending money on albums.

Meiko, singer songwriter