UNITED STATES—All of our lives, we are asked that perennial question: what do you want to do when you grow up? That dream job changes quite a bit as we age, but at some point we nail down our options to 1-2 careers. Now, you’ve graduated from college, so what do you do? If only it was that easy. It rarely happens the way the Hollywood movies exhibit things; there isn’t always that happily ever after as we’d all like to believe things happen.

In some situations, you spend thousands of dollars to get an education, only to find yourself at a dead-end job where one is not fully happy with the outcome. On the other end, you question rather college was worth the stress or the financial woes to end at a job that stifles or prevents you from achieving your full potential. I take a look at many of the people around me, including family and friends who are questioning their career trajectory.

I mean it happens to all of us, after a while at a job that just isn’t paying enough, doesn’t appreciate your efforts, lacks medical insurance or leaves the body more stressed than you could ever imagine, ideas start to ignite in your head. Why am I still here? Am I happy here? What can I do to change things to put myself in a better state of mind?

Well for starters, you have to be willing to take a leap of faith. When you first acknowledge the problem, the second step requires one to decide rather he or she is willing to do something about it. This is the scary part, but if you don’t put yourself out there to test the waters with job interviews, seeking a new technical skill or adjusting your resume to stir interest in prospective employers, you will never know what options are out there; it’s the fear of the unknown, but at the same time opportunity exists as well.

I know so many people right now who have taken a hard glance in the mirror and decided to go back to school with the hopes of improving their current predicament. School does not guarantee a job; let’s just be crystal clear on that ideology. However, from my personal experiences I have seen plenty of opportunities arise just by being at the right place, at the right time and having the opportunity to network. It is so much easier to network on a college campus than in everyday life. The people that you meet, the situations that you are placed in, things tend to be grand in nature.

I always say when it comes to a career you have to consider multiple options 1) what am I passionate about 2) can I sustain a livelihood for myself and my family in this trajectory 3) growth potential/advancement. I believe the first two are quite important. We do indeed live in a world where being passionate about something conflicts with our mental state of being able to provide for ourselves.

Be clear I’m not in any fashion saying abandon your dreams because you’re not able to make enough money. I’m advocating put yourself in a situation or situations where you have options until you can sustain a life in your respective fields of interests. Things rarely happen overnight, but at the same time I have realized that persistence and consistency matters in the world of careers. The more adamant you are in telling yourself to go after something, and actively pursuing it, opportunities present themselves.

I constantly go back to an episode of “Oprah” that struck a chord with me and has such poignancy to it. I recall either the talk icon herself or one of her guests noting “Every day you stay at a job that you dislike, a small piece of you dies inside.” I believe that to be true, so this isn’t saying go quite your job right now to pursue your passion, its saying look at the options in front of you or around you while you still work in hopes of landing that dream job or putting yourself into a position, where you can get out of bed in the morning and be EXCITED about work, not turning over with the dread of having to get up and go to work.

Happiness is what you make it, so if you’re not happy, you have to change things so that you are. Life always delivers curveballs, but at the same time, life sometimes presents moments of truth that we can’t escape. It can be painful to leave one job for another, but at the same time, you have to live with the choices you make in life, don’t allow someone else to make that choice for you.

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