“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
Everyone has that one friend who we perceive has it all figured out. For some people, a path to their dream career is paved — they know what they want to do and how they’re going to get there. For others, like myself, the future is muddled and thoughts are murky; I have to keep reminding myself that’s okay.
When I get overwhelmed by the fear I’m going to work at my supposed-to-be-only-temporary retail job forever, I, first, literally tell myself to “shut up” and then I tear myself away from the anxiety about my seemingly already failed future to focus on the present moment. There are so many articles on Mindfulness (TIME magazine even released a wonderful special issue on it) you can find online, but here are some of my go-to methods for grounding myself.
Invest in the Process
You might need to rework how you frame your goals. My favorite TED talk is “Plug Into Your Hard-Wired Happiness” by Srikumar Rao. In those 18 minutes, Rao bestows upon us the wisdom that it is fulfilling to invest in the process of getting somewhere, rather than focusing on the outcome. The “If-Then” model of “if this happens, then I will be happy” is a failing one because if “this” does not happen, you won’t be happy; however, if you pride yourself on every step you take to reach the outcome (which exists only to serve as a guide), you’ll be content to succeed or fail, seeing the latter as the start of a new path that will take you somewhere unexpected yet rewarding.
Put It Out in the Universe
There’s something to be said for verbalization. Declare your intent to the universe! How else will it know what to send your way? I’ve kept a fortune from a fortune cookie in my wallet for years: “Greet the world every morning with curiosity and hope.” One mantra Northeastern career counselor Sabrina Woods suggested to me is, “I allow for my highest possible good.” You can also develop your own.
Get Over Others
The only person who has the privilege of living your life is you. So why let anybody else decide whether you’re doing something wrong? Stop comparing yourself to others. Why let other people impact that way you perceive yourself? Don’t allow someone else’s successes to be a measure of your own happiness. In order to find happiness, you must realize that you, yourself, are worthy of happiness.
Even though you might not be where you want to, keep the faith that when you invest in the process, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.
A graduate of Northeastern with a degree in English, Ashley used to be the News Director and a DJ for WRBB 104.9 FM, the university’s student-run radio station. When she’s not working at Apple, she writes for music blogs and builds her marketing portfolio. Informational interviews, cooking and rock & roll are some of her favorite things. Tell her what you’re listening to via Twitter @amjcbs or connect with her on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/amjcbs).