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I guess everyone has a different way of measuring success … maybe you measure it in dollars, or number of promotions, or a deep feeling of fulfillment, or amount of vacation time, or satisfied clients.

For me, I have one simple filter question that lets me know instantly if I’m on the right track.

Would my 17-year-old self be excited by my life right now … or disappointed?

At 17, I was impatient to grow up because the adult life I’d imagined was so much cooler than high school. As an adult, I’d have complete independence and freedom, and I’d get to wear stylish work clothes to my awesome job.

Mind you, my 17-year-old’s vision of this “awesome job” changed as often as my favorite band. The job titles constantly evolved {I dreamed of being an author, or a book agent, or a professor, or a magazine editor}, but they always included plenty of writing and creativity, fun coworkers, independence, and impacting a ton of people in a meaningful way.

You know what I never once dreamed about?

Sitting in the middle of a windowless room full of cubicles, writing mind-numbingly repetitive marketing emails or editing technical documents about installing HVAC units on university campuses {you know that’s a real example because I couldn’t even make up a topic that boring}.

So for the first few years after college, I’m sad to say, my 17-year-old self would have been severely underwhelmed if she’d paid me a visit. My adult life in the “real world” didn’t have any of the excitement, passion, and creativity that I’d longed for. And trying to pay for my life on an entry-level salary wasn’t making me feel particularly independent, either.

When I examined my early 20-something life through the eyes of my 17-year-old self, I was mostly … bored.

And a little angry. I could just imagine what my (slightly overdramatic) teenage self would be thinking: Umm, seriously? Is this what I’m working so hard for? Is this really all I have to look forward to? Because it’s pretty lame.

That’s partly what spurred my cubicle panic attack, and it became abundantly clear to me that I couldn’t keep disappointing myself for my entire career. Something had to drastically change.

It took me another couple of frustrating years (and plenty of trial and error) to figure out what I was passionate about and how to turn it into a viable career. I hate seeing other millennials struggle with the same frustrations and uncertainty that I felt, so Rachel and I created The Passion Plan specifically to help other 20- and 30-somethings shorten the “figuring it out” process and get started quicker than we did.

I recently did another check-in with myself.

I examined my current life through my 17-year-old self’s eyes: I looked around at my business, my friends, the life I’ve created for myself up until now … and my teenage self felt an overwhelming sense of pride and excitement. And to me, that’s a sure sign that I’m headed in the right direction.

Now, I’ll admit that my 17-year-old self definitely had a touch of standard teenage delusion, so there are a few things I’m glad she was dead wrong about. {No, younger self, I’m NOT married to that guy I dated in high school, and thank god for that!} But the way she wanted me to feel about my future career – passionate, ambitious, inspired, creative, impactful – that’s something I never want to lose sight of.

Now we want to hear from you! How would your younger self feel about your life right now?

Much love,

Kristen (& Rachel)

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