It's Your Career, Not Theirs: 5 Tips for Carving Your Own Path

March 13, 2018

This article was previously published on September 13, 2016.Finding Your Own Career Path

Recently, I started another new job in what was previously uncharted territory for me.  Freshly out of college, I felt that I would finally be able to make my own career and life choices without worrying about what my classmates and “competition” were doing.  Now with a year of so-called “adulting” under my belt, I’ve realized that the feeling of not measuring up to the competition does not simply disappear; every day we encounter co-workers, old friends, and social media mavens who seem to have everything together while we are stuck wading through the mud.  The longer we let these feelings sink in, the more difficult it will be to shake them off.  In such a competitive world, it may seem impossible to avoid feelings of jealousy and inadequacy.

Here are 5 of my best tips to help you keep your head above the water, while still staying true to yourself. 

1. Tune Out & Shut Down

Our society’s current obsession with social media is proving to be quite detrimental to our self-esteem and well-being.  We all turn to these social platforms from time to time to check up on friends and family or simply for the entertainment value; however, our often mindless need and urge to stay constantly connected to the digital world can easily lead to feelings of inadequacy. What seems like a quick break from our work day can turn ugly in a matter of seconds with social media. It is difficult not to feel inadequate when you are constantly barraged with photos and videos of seemingly everyone else in the world having so much more fun than you. How can you possibly be doing well when your old college roommate just got promoted and moved to your dream city while you’ve been standing still? Perception is everything. With social media, we have complete control over how we allow others to perceive us. Anyone can appear successful and happy when they only show the world the best things that life has given them. Everyone struggles at some point in their lives; whether or not they allow others to see those vulnerabilities is a different story. Considering that you have the power to create others’ perceptions of you through social media, we should then also recognize our ability to perceive others’ lives through an honest lens.

The less time you spend obsessing over everything your peers seem to be doing, the more you will be able to tune into your own life.  Try to limit social media use to just a few times a day, rather than having your phone glued to your hand 24/7. You’ll soon discover how beautiful your own life is when you stop vicariously living through everyone else’s altered digital realities.

2. Visualize & Materialize

Ever since high school, my friends and I have always reminded each other of “The Secret” whenever we are hoping for a specific outcome from a situation. The phenomenon of “The Secret” is one that I believe more people need to get behind. Though it may seem silly to wholeheartedly believe that if you think positive thoughts you will be granted your positive outcome, one cannot deny the impact optimism can have on one’s life. If we go around believing that nothing will ever get better, then we are truly setting ourselves up for failure. A soul consumed with negative energy is not a soul open to success. You have to believe that your difficult situation will get better in order to inspire yourself to spark a change in your life.

Failure and setbacks are inevitable; continuing down a path of negativity is a choice. Choose happiness. Choose to have a beautiful day, every day, and you will finally be able to recognize the personal growth you achieve every day. Try creating a vision board with visual representations of all of your goals within it.  If you are constantly reminded of all of the beautiful experiences you are working towards, you will be able to inspire yourself every day.  Goals are meant to inspire us, so take the step towards a happier life, and soon you will see finally recognize all of the success you have achieved and will achieve.

3. Find a Role Model, not a Ruler 

Chances are, there is someone out there who is enjoying the career success you’ve always dreamed of.  You have two choices when you find this person: beat yourself up over the fact that you are not where they are or look to them as an inspiration to grow and keep fighting for what you want.  It is so easy to wallow in our own self-pity and to be so hard on ourselves when we see others enjoying all that we want. When we begin to idolize these people, they begin to rule our minds and can often act as daily reminders that what we are doing is obviously not enough. Instead of placing these people up on a pedestal, take a moment to appreciate all of the work they have put in to get to where they are. Imagine the roadblocks and difficult years they fought through in order to enjoy their current success.  It is not a matter of measuring up to this person, but rather a matter of allowing them to inspire hope in your own life that you are capable of achieving your dreams as long as you don’t give up.  There are so many successful, hardworking individuals out there to look towards for inspiration, and there is no reason that you can’t join them.


4. Celebrate Your Success

Each small success and step you take in your career and in your life should celebrated.  No moment is too small to be considered insignificant.  Large scale successes are built up from one small achievement after another; be proud of yourself for all that you take on each and every day. Even if you did not make it work this time around, be proud of yourself for trying.  Sure, there might be tons of people who are experiencing larger successes than you on a daily basis, but that does not make you a failure.  Those successes were meant for those specific people, and your successes just haven’t found you yet.  Take the time to appreciate all that you put into every day instead of comparing your life with those around you, and you might just surprise yourself with how successful and lucky you truly are.


5. Explore & Innovate

If you see someone engaging in experiences you would love to have, then take the initiative to do the same.  You could be doing all of that, too, if you just gave it a chance. New experiences can be terrifying, yet also terribly thrilling. Anxiety and low self-esteem often prevent us from trying new experiences; we are so afraid to fail or look stupid that we often quit before we even try. Every day is a gift and an opportunity to discover something beautiful. No one is an expert the first time they try something, so never worry about how well everyone around you is doing as long as you are learning.

New hobbies and passions exist around every corner, so don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.  The more you put yourself out there, the more of this beautiful world you will be able to experience. A healthy soul leads to a healthier mind, body, and life.  The more you are aware of where your passion lies, the more easily you will carve yourself the path to your ideal career and life.  So go ahead and explore today; you never know what you might discover about yourself.

What are you going to explore today?

More career advice: 5 Tips for Reclaiming Your Creative Edge

5 Non Stressful Ways to Measure Your Career Success

How to Deal with Career Anxiety

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Becky Curl is a freelance wig and make-up artisan based in Chicago and a recent graduate of The Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in St. Louis. When she’s not working in the theatre, Becky enjoys exploring new vegan and eco-friendly beauty products and watching copious amounts of Saturday Night Live. Check out her portfolio here and follow her on Instagram @becky_curl and Pinterest @beckycurl!


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