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The other day I was on a walk with my dog, which is as great a time for mental wandering as it is physical wandering, when something weird happened — I remembered a part of my life I had completely forgotten about.

I’m not talking about something that happened in a single day, and that naturally faded from memory. I’m talking about something I did almost every day for many months (maybe even a year), and had totally brushed to the back of some dusty corner of my mind.

Has this happened to you before? I wonder if it’s a side effect of getting “older” (I still use that word lightly, since I’m only 30). It would make sense! The more experiences you acquire, the more there is to remember, which means older and seemingly unimportant stuff falls through the mental cracks.

Anyway, the thing I remembered was my tenure as a writer for one of those celebrity gossip websites.

To be fair, it was a bit more highbrow, and it dealt in more than just celebrities. There were articles about music and film and food and other “lifestyle” things.

My “beat” (if you can call it that) was relationships — analyzing celebrity breakups, giving advice, that kind of thing.

I’m not really surprised I forgot about this weird stint in my career — I mean, it didn’t even pay, so obviously it wasn’t all that memorable — but now it’s got me thinking about the random, twisting path that led me to where I am.

THE TIMELINE OF RANDOMNESS

Here’s a snapshot of everything I’ve done in the past decade:

So, just in case you didn’t catch that — in the span of about 4 years, I bounced around from book writing to art history to events and promotions to psychology to nannying to legal work and finally, to coaching (and even within that, bounced around more).

THE DOMINO EFFECT IS REAL

I have never known exactly what I wanted to do with my life. When I pitched myself to that celebrity site, I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d never done a real pitch before! I just knew, at the time, that I wanted to write a book. And I figured that a published author should, you know, be a published author.

Was it a tatty little online rag that no one ever read, and shortly went defunct? You bet!

And did we eventually scrap the whole relationship self-help book? We did! (Even though getting that book published had been the whole impetus behind pitching myself to the celebrity site in the first place.)

But here’s the critical thing — the writing gig paid off, even though the original reason I did it fell through.

I got to put a few published articles in my portfolio, which helped me get published at more relevant sites later on, which helped us build our audience when we launched our coaching business.

That gig was part of a chain of events that helped me become a successful coach … even though when I started, I didn’t even know coaching existed as a career.

EVERYTHING IS “FOR NOW,” NOT FOREVER

I’m sharing this now, in particular, because it feels like almost everyone I talk to these days is afraid of making a career move before they have all the information.

There’s a whole legion of people who are afraid that unless they know exactly what they want to do, and exactly how to get there (without making any missteps along the way), they shouldn’t begin.

So, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been telling them:

Start where there’s an opening.

I’ve never had a big plan. I guess I’ve just been unintentionally good at doing the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing (and often failing, flunking, and dead-ending along the way) … until I land somewhere I like.

I’ve just started wherever there was an opening — a hint of curiosity or a mild interest in something — and I’ve pursued it until it taught me what I needed to know or led me to the next point in my path.

I’m not saying that you can’t get clear on your career direction and make smart, thoughtful decisions about where you want to go before you take any action (I’m a coach; I help people do that all day long).

I am saying, however, that at some point you’ve got to become OK with not knowing everything before you start, and trusting that sometimes the next step is only revealed after you’ve taken the first step.

Also … no step is permanent. It is very unlikely that you’ll ever get to a point where you enjoy something so much that you want to do it for the rest of your life.

And hey, for those of you who think that sounds depressing — it’s not. It’s a relief! You’re meant to evolve. You’re not meant to pick one thing and stick with it until you die.

Earlier, when I said that I’ve never really known what I wanted to do with my life, I meant that. I still mean it right now.

For now, coaching works for me. Having my own business feels good. But can I guarantee that what I’m doing (and the way I’m doing it) will always work for me? No. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that at some point, I’ll grow tired of some (or even all) of it.

Everything I do is for now, not forever. I trust that when it’s time to evolve, the next right step will become obvious. And when that happens, I’ll follow the nudge of curiosity where it leads. Because it has always taken me where I needed to go.

What about you? Have you been freaking out about making a career move because you don’t know exactly where you’re going? Share with me, in the comments.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL ALSO LOVE …

How you can stop freaking out about not knowing the future

Are you a hummingbird or a jackhammer?

The Adventurer’s Spirit

Much Love,

Rachel (& Kristen)


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8 comments | add a comment | Share this > Tweet this > Email this >
    1. Hey Angie! Yes, if you registered you’ll get a replay emailed to you shortly after the workshop ends. 🙂 And FYI, it will expire a week later, so you’ll want to make time to watch it before then.

  1. Hi! I just decided to change my major more than halfway through my time in college. I’ll be in school for an extra two years but I think it’s the right decision. I am slowly trying to figure out my life and I think I’m taking it in the right direction! Thanks for the awesome blogs!

    1. Good for you, Lorelei! A think a lot of people wish they’d had the guts to change their major before the graduated. It’s great that you decided to go against convention and do what felt right to you. That will serve you well throughout your life!

  2. I’ve been thinking about blogging, coaching, and becoming a doula (the last career recently) but I’m terrified about stability because I have a family.

    1. Hi Koren,

      That’s very understandable! It’s only natural to care about stability when you have a family, and obviously when more people rely on you it can change what kind of decisions you make.

      I clearly don’t know much about your situation, but I’ll make an educated guess — It sounds like there’s probably a common thread behind your interest in blogging, coaching, and being a doula. If I were to describe what I think that might be, I’d say it’s probably something about helping people to do life (or certain aspects of their life) in a more conscious way. You’re likely the kind of person who likes helping people discover new truths and have “aha moments,” and that shows up in various ways.

      So, because any of those avenues might allow you to delve into that underlying thread, I’d start where there’s an opening. You don’t have to make a big change at first; you can start where it’s easiest or where it’s most convenient to your family situation. Blogging doesn’t cost much (if anything)! You’re totally allowed to try that out, and see what happens. There isn’t much risk involved in dipping your toes in that water.

      And if you’re interested in coaching, you can explore that, too, without making any big commitments. One good way to do that is to reach out to coaches and ask them how they got started, where they trained, and what the experience is/was like. (If you’d like to email us, we’re happy to share our experience with you — [email protected]) 🙂

  3. Kristin , nice post.

    I think the biggest regret most young people make is that they don’t try things enough, dabble in different careers before they settle on something.

    It’s actually not immature to do that. The worse thing is being settled and trapped into something you hate, despite being invested in it (college degree or just many expenses and family livelihoods tied to your income).

    Experimenting is part of living and you have more experiences and stories to tell.

    Think of best consultants, you really think they’d be that experienced if they just did one thing. Explore and be more

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