Life ebbs and flows, and challenges sometimes bring you inspired opportunities.” ~ Joan Lunden
Always be prepared to grab opportunities when they appear. With age comes wisdom — hopefully. Eventually, through experience, hard work and lessons gleaned from years of making mistakes and achieving success, you will develop an understanding and acceptance of life. And by the age of 50 or 60, you should expect to find your passion and your best career because you most likely will know what it takes to have a satisfying, successful life.
If only you could tap into the future you at 60 years old and use those hard-won lessons when you need them most — now, when you’re young and can put them to practical use. If only you knew now what you’d know then, perhaps you could avoid many of life’s career pitfalls, find your passion early, and jump into your best career right out of college.
Others Paved the Way
Sharing the lessons of a life well lived is one of the true signs of successful businesspeople. Whether they share their experiences through graduation commencement speeches or one-on-one mentoring, your wise elders can help you succeed without having to make all the same mistakes they did.
The social media giant, LinkedIn, knew that it held within its membership pearls of wisdom that only come through actual living, succeeding and yes, even failing. LinkedIn editor Amy Chen asked more than 50 social media influencers what advice they would give a younger version of themselves. She called the project, If I Were 22: What Advice Would You Give to Your Younger Self?
Find Your Passion in the Moment
One of the most common pieces of advice the respondents gave was to live each day as if it’s your last, to find your passion in the now. While the best career may bring financial success and social status, happiness lies in the moment — a time that you never can get back.
“I wish I’d known sooner that success isn’t defined by who goes the longest without a vacation,” reports media mogul Arianna Huffington. “There are no rollover minutes in life. We don’t get to keep all the ‘time’ we save. It’s actually a very costly way to live.”
Actor, director and creator Bryce Dallas Howard says it this way, “If I could talk to my 22-year-old self, I would tell her to take a daily note of what she saw, whom she met, what she noticed, what she celebrated and what she wished she could do over.”
Take a Chance
Another common theme among the entrepreneurs and business leaders interviewed for the report was the sentiment that you can’t find your passion without taking risks. Richard Branson, one of the founders of Virgin Group says, “We all deserve a second chance. Next time you have the opportunity to give someone their second chance, don’t think twice.”
College professors and counselors may have told you that to find the best career, look for companies that are hiring, industries with potential for growth and a boss who can give you stability and promotions. You may have heard that it’s a pipe dream to find your passion.
But bold leaders and innovative companies are built more on risk and creativity than on safety and sameness. And it’s in that risk that you really can find your passion, follow your bliss and live a long, fulfilling life. Shark Tank entrepreneur Robert Herjavec wrote, “I didn’t know it was possible to start a business at 22. Now I invest in big dreamers.”
Tripping Over Your Passion Along the Way
The entrepreneurs and business leaders who influence modern culture and business today didn’t always know what they wanted. Nor did they worry about it. They dug into life and gave whatever job they held their all. And it was through those life experiences that they eventually found their best career moves. Along the way, they took their lessons wherever they could find them. “Digging trenches in the rain taught me to always do the right thing, even when no one was looking,” writes Stanley McChrystal, co-founder and partner at McChrystal Group. Don’t rush yourself or worry if the path to your best career is not swift and sure. The point of life is to be ready when opportunity knocks.
“I waitressed before discovering my path at age 30,” says Suzie Orman, television host, author, motivational speaker and producer. “Give yourself time to figure things out.” Orman goes on to share lessons she learned about taking yourself too seriously. She advises not to define yourself through outside things like finding a career best suited for you, the spouse on your arm, or how many toys you have in the garage. “You are not your job,” she writes. “You are the sum of your thoughts, your intentions and, most importantly, your actions.”
Suit Up and Show Up
Another important lesson shared by many of the respondents is to show up every day and remain open to new ideas and new adventures. Regardless of where you find yourself in the present moment, the best way to follow your passion is to be there always doing your best.
“When I was 22, I worked as a security guard at IBM,” says Maynard Webb, Chairman of Yahoo! and former COO of eBay. “Show up, knock on the door, and then run through.” Webb adds, “I didn’t dream big enough because no one told me I could.”
Your success may end up being something you thought you could never do. Keep an open mind as you begin your career and move into new experiences. Who knows what you could end up doing once you follow your passion. You may just seem to stumble into an enormously successful endeavor.
“Be prepared to change your point of view,” advises Ian Callum, social influencer and Director of Design at Jaguar. “I swore I’d never design a crossover SUV. This year, we’re launching the F-PACE. It’s a crossover. The world has changed, and I had to change with it.”
Keep the Faith
It’s smart to follow your bliss and find your passion to keep you motivated and pointed in the right direction, but the really smart folks understand that they don’t have all the answers. They are open-minded and willing to learn. Once you find your passion, be willing to change it — and you truly will find peace in your choices and move into seniority and the best career with little or no regrets. “By having a point of view, you have something to say. That’s important,” Callum adds. “But be prepared for it to change, because as you learn more, you realize your point of view wasn’t always necessarily correct.”
What advice would YOU give to your younger self at age 22? What is YOUR definition of success and happiness?