How I changed my career path in less than 9 months
"Lost in my twenties, knowing that there is more to life"
I wrote this last year, around September / October. Almost a year later I’ve looked at it again and decided to post it. I remember writing it in one of those Sundays I couldn’t sleep past 6am. Bored in bed I got up and wrote it furiously, all at once.
As soon as I started reading it, I had a smile in my face. Reading it a week after achieving one of my biggest goals, at this stage of my life, showed me how much of this thinking has actually shaped each and every single decision I’ve made since September last year.
I’ve made a few changes to the post, especially at the end where I added what I’ve achieved with it. Here you go:
If you’re like me your mind doesn’t stop for a minute…
You keep thinking “There has to be more to life”, “There must be more than this.” “Why am I not happy?” Everybody you talk with say “Relax, you’re too young!!”.
If you’re like me, you say bullocks! Life is happening right now and I want to be doing what I love!
My journey hasn’t been easy and trust me, I know how you feel.
To tell you a little bit more about me… My name is Kelly and I am Portuguese. All my family is from a little island in Portugal called Madeira and I grew up in amazing sunny Lisbon. Since I was 18 I wanted to come to London, mainly because I felt there were bigger things waiting for me. Finally, at 22, I decided to break my mothers’ heart and leave. I settled in the UK less than a month from my brothers’ birthday and a month and a half before Christmas, not a clever decision I should say!
Worked in a few places (Damn, some pretty cool places!!). I served the Queen at Buckingham Palace, managed to watch bits of Paul McCartney’s’ show at Royal Albert Hall while serving posh quail eggs, I served in the VIP area of the Game of Thrones premier, and yes with the whole cast, and I also served in the opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I have worked more hours than I should, all the time, but hey that’s me! One of my managers used to make fun of me asked me if I was interested in a night shift, “since... you know, you have the night free….” I started having weekends off at 25. I felt quite privileged.
Last couple of years have been a turning point and rather than just working, I was determined to work with a meaning, work for a passion. Here are 10 tips to get there:
1. Ask and be open
I know it is hard to not know what you want to do. To not know what is it that you are passionate about. What is it that you’re good at? Throughout all my life I have been asked what I wanted to do and it was always a struggle for me. I felt like I had not lived enough, experienced enough, to be able to define what I wanted to do. I didn’t have a specific set of skills that set me apart and I never felt like I was particularly clever.
Then suddenly I thought… Ever since I can remember (a part from when I was really young, when I wanted to be a model or a singer), my answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was always “Be happy. I don’t care what I’m doing as long as I’m happy!”
Keep asking yourself that same the question. Keep looking for answers, be open to signs and the path will unravel in front of you. I think too many people go through life not knowing what they want to do and placidly conforming to societies norm of a 9-5 job.
“The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering. Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life.” –Vasudev.
Think about that!
2. Every day, do something that will bring you closer to your goal
In my long searches for answers, this little tip has helped me a lot.
Every day, take a little step, do something small that will bring you closer to your goal/dream.
What is it that you need? Connections? Money? Knowledge? Text a friend that might know a bit more about it, ask a person on LinkedIn if they can help. Look into courses that can help you get there (doesn’t have to be paid. Open source is such a big thing right now!!). Ask financial advice on how to make that goal possible. And most importantly: think of your goal from different perspectives! I have lived the last few years thinking my big goal is still a mirage, mainly due to lack of funding. I have recently realized that I can be living my dream even before hitting the big picture. I can be doing what I love and raising money towards the big end goal.
Define what it is that you want and periodically try to look at it from a different angle.
3. Do it! (What’s stopping you??)
Yes! What’s stopping you? If whatever you want to do scares you, just think: What’s the worst that can happen? What would be the worst possible scenario and how would that affect you? Think about it to the point of it being so bad that it would make you lose your job, lose all your money, make you homeless. Think about all of that, as hard as it might be for you to surpass that fear. Think about it and consider both options. Consider what would be better? To try and take the risk? Or to live never knowing what would’ve happened?
Most times, the consequences of whatever decision you may take are not even that dramatic. Think about a plan B. Think about what you would do if x, y or z happened. This is how I live my life at the moment. I have fears, I have concerns regarding some decisions. Does it stop me? No! I think it through, evaluate the risks, think about possible outcomes and possible scenarios, plan exit strategies, and peacefully carry on with my day.
Please just go out there and do it!
4. Be exceptional
Understand you have to excel every day, for the rest of your life. Understand that whatever you do, you are being watched and people are forming opinions and a concept of you. Choose carefully who can see your weaknesses and who you think you need to prove yourself to, again and again… Then IGNORE THEM. Find your nearest MIRROR. Who you see - YOU and only YOU - is the ONLY person you are accountable too. PERIOD.
Might be a hard task but think: if you excel at least at one thing every single day, imagine how powerful that makes you.
5. DO what you love
My biggest problem was not knowing what my passion was. Trust me, when you find it, you’ll know!! A lot of friends told me how happy they were for me, for finding my passion and trying to make the main part of my life. And a lot of people asked me how I discovered what I love. 9 out of 10 people confess “yeah… I’m looking for that answer but haven’t found it yet.” My advice is always the same – try as many things as you can, get out there, experience the world. DON’T SETTLE! Think of your key values and priorities in life. What do you dream of when you close your eyes? What inputs does your brain send you when you’re at rest? My conviction to follow my passion was a simple thought that came to my mind: “I wish I could just be paid to train all day, every day.” And then I thought… Hell, why not? I’m gonna do it. Guess what? I’m getting there!!
6. It’s okay to have a lot of passions!
All these years I have been looking for my passion. The golden answer for when people ask you “what gets you out of bed?” I now embrace the fact that I can’t change who I am and I don’t need to be like everybody else! (I’m sure you’re with me on this one) I love things! I have loads of passions!! I love sports, well-being, music, bicycles, analog photography, cooking and baking, charity work, social media and communication. But I also want to learn how to cook better, yoga, thai chi, all martial arts available, skating, surfing, tango, street dance, coding, bookkeeping, Italian, German… I could go on.
Life doesn’t have to be dedicated to one single skill, one passion. What if your passion is to continuously keep learning. Continuously growing and becoming the best version of you?
I truly believe the future will demand more people who are flexible, agile, fast learners (who can learn something to mastery in a short amount of time like one month, nail it down, and then pick up another skill the next month), quick thinkers and problem solvers and most of all, passionate for new challenges AND in love with the process of constant change.
If the economic world won’t demand it, at least I know I will be happier this way anyway. Only now I have realized I am lucky for not always having the answer for “what are you really good at?” or “what do you want to do with your life?” – life is to be unwrapped and not dead planned. So stop trying to put boxes around you and around your talents!
7. Feel your emotions
I know a lot of people that will make their absolute maximum effort to avoid being alone with their thoughts. They work hard for 8/10 hours a day, they go out for a drink and go home when they’re absolutely hammered, having numbed their thoughts. I’ve been guilty of this too but growing doesn’t come from numbness. Growing comes from acknowledging your pain and knowing why you feel what you feel. I came to the UK when I was 22 and I grew up more as a person in 2 years until I was 24, than I ever did before. I was on my own, I had taken the decision to move to London, leaving friends, family and a semi boyfriend behind, and I didn’t know if I had made the right decision. But I felt I needed to prove to myself that it was all going to be worth it.
Feel your emotions, let them sink in. Don’t run away from them. Ask yourself why am I feeling this way and what can I do to change it? What do I need to feel better? What am I missing?
8. Be humble
One particular phrase from my best teacher at Uni stayed with me “I love working with people with low self-esteem. Why? I have low self-esteem and I know how hard I work because I think it is never good enough!”
If your self-esteem is fist pumping straight up the skies though, at least be humble. The last thing you want is a person who promises the world but cuts short on the delivery. I prefer working with people who might not be there yet in terms of capabilities but work their ass off and put in the effort as oppose to an arrogant idiot who thinks he/she is the last coke in the desert. Nothing in this world should give you a reason to act like that. Remember we all end up 5 feet under, the same exact ground.
9. Live simply
More and more I believe that a secret to a happy life is to live simply. How much meaningful shit do you really carry around in your purse? How much crap do you have in your house? Remember that holiday you say you can’t afford? You could probably afford it if you didn’t buy all those lipsticks and silly trendy tops. You could probably afford that course you wanted to do if you didn’t go out every week and spend a fortune on drinks you throw up later.
I had people asking me “What a great life you live! How can you afford all that traveling?”… Well, I work for it! As I said, I started having weekends at 25! I grew up on a tight budget and I paid for my Uni. I had to learn how to manage myself and be self-sufficient. I started working at 18 and since then, until I was 22 and moved out, my parents only provided me with accommodation and food. Everything else I made sure I got covered. I consider myself lucky to have learned these skills since young age and guess what? I still don’t have a lot of money but I’ve seen a few places and experienced some really cool stuff!
The same way Industrial revolution hit us back in 80’s, with great production lines and great incentive to consumption, I believe we’re on the path to a new revolution. A much simpler way of consuming and living, where rather than judged for not having the latest gadget or the latest trendy shoe, we will be admired by keeping it simple and being resourceful.
I have always been (again from my somewhat poor-ish background) very conscious of the value of things and how stuff is meant to last. Don’t just buy a coat and expect it to last a season!! My friends would easily throw away stuff, buy a new one, waste a silly amount of food and have too many handbags. I was the happiest using one of my mum’s handbags from when she was younger (and yes, got mocked because of it. Did I care? NO! Used it until it broke. Then stapled it together, used it for a few more months, and finally had to retire it). It made me feel closer to her and connected. When that bag broke, my heart broke with it!
At the end of the day, what I’m trying to say is that the world can’t continue like this and you can’t either. Use your money for better things. Save your money towards your goal, invest in a course, in your learning, invest in quality food, invest in your training! You will thank yourself in a few decades.
10. Learn from EVERYBODY
I will not forget a job interview I had, where I said “I believe I can learn from everybody” and the interviewer said with a frown on his face “Why??” You don’t have to agree with this but, I believe life is a never ending maze of learning with and in everything you do. The moment you stop learning you stop living. The moment you stop challenging yourself you stop living!
One of the things I love is talking to older people about their life experience. I think this is because I was never close to my grandparents, none of them. My mums’ mum died way too young, I was still in primary school and she was ill ever since I can remember. My dads’ parents didn’t like me and saw me as the black sheep of the family, barer of all sins. As a result, I think I lacked a bigger connection and it has always filled my heart listening to peoples’ life stories, decisions and outcomes. My biggest fear in life is to look back on my life and realise I didn’t live a good life / a life to my full potential. When I listen to peoples’ stories, I try to grab the key points: what has mattered the most, what decisions did they regret, what has been the most important thing in their lives.
Funny story… when working in sales at a skiing and snowboarding school I accidentally called this lady, award winning and locally famous Doreen Adock. We ended up talking on the phone for 28 minutes and even though I had the pressure of having more call to do, I was delighted by her story. Half way through the conversation she says “There, I lived a full life, I have all my trophies here in my living room for people to come and see. I’ve helped a lot of people and I lived a happy life. What have you done with your life?” my answer was quite simply “I’m gonna go home and rethink my whole life actually.” She was lovely and we even arranged for her to come and see me for tea after I refused to visit her and see her trophies.
I am not saying happiness is x, y or z. I grew up thinking happiness was all about career. I couldn’t disagree more at this stage of my life and I will probably have a different concept of happiness in a few years. What I am trying to say is that you need to look for your own answer! Define your happiness, what makes you tick and what you want to be in 1 decade and in 3 decades. Don’t be afraid to tell your parents, friends or partners you have a different concept of happiness. As long as you keep pursuing the answer, you will look back and think, I’ve done the best I could with what I knew at the time, instead of thinking “I wish I worked harder for it, I wish I realized I wanted more”
Mid-October last year I decided I was going to follow my passion – or at least what made me the happiest – boxing, kickboxing and fitness in general. This decision ended up changing my whole life – location, career and personal relationships. I had lived the worst year of my life up until then.
I was living outside of London and was invited to work for my coach back in London. Refused it at first but jumped at it the second time the invite came and moved back to London. Good friends helped me with a place to stay for a few months because I couldn’t even afford rent and, most importantly, plenty of cozy hugs and night talks to make the pain go away. Took me a good few months for my brain to be in the right place but it made me stronger, fearless. I had lost the one thing I thought I would never lose. What else could I lose?
Now, less than a year later I have completely changed my career path – I am now a Boxing Assistant Instructor (working on my Muay Thai training and certification) and I’ve just been offered a management position at Virgin Active (Richard Branson has always been an inspiration... I applied 3 times and wasn't planning on quitting). I am fully working in my passions’ industry, living in the environment I love and surrounded by people who I naturally connect with!!
I’m not trying to say that this a formula for you to use or a formula for success but I hope this inspires you or at least allow you to see that a bit of effort can take you a long way. If you’re not happy, if you constantly complain about your job or feel like you are stuck, I would encourage you to find more. THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS!! I dream of a world where we all LIVE OUR DREAMS instead of daily walking into unfulfilling jobs, living half of the lives we are meant to live. Your job might not be your passion but there is somebody else who would kill for that role. We all just need to NOT SETTLE and keep looking. It is all down to believing there is something more, something better for you out there.