To the Goal-driven, Ambitious You: Pace not Race

As soon as I learned that I have passed the boards and have become a “legit” CPA, I thought I already won my key to freedom at long last.

I thought that once I work, earn my own salary, and manage my own time, I am already entitled to the best years of my life. I was hopeful, positive, not to mention, ambitious.  I have lofty goals for myself. Older friends advised me, “You’re all back to square one.  Now, you can be anything you can be.”

When I took on my first job, I was excited. I hungered for experiences, for networks, and for new adventures. Being admitted to an audit firm and belonging to an advisory service line, the workload tended to be erratic and sometimes intense. However, being the usual multi-tasker that I am, I continued to get involved in other activities like ministries in church and pursuing my love for writing.

I was happy, thankful, and generally contented with what I’m experiencing.

crossroad.pngFast forward months later, I felt the initial excitement in me dwindling away. I always wanted something more than what I currently have: I wanted to experience more, learn more, achieve more, travel more, earn more, and buy more. Suddenly, I started to stalk facebook posts and compare myself to some of my batch mates or colleagues from college who seem to already get ahead in life.

I felt my enthusiasm for work plummet. From looking forward to every day, I felt like I was dragging myself out of the bed each morning. I was constantly frustrated that I am not yet as accomplished as my contemporaries.

From my avid search for insights and guidance, I came to realize that what I feel is common among new graduates: the feeling of having the need to achieve a lot of things at the shortest time possible. Suddenly I felt like I was subjecting myself to a race with no sure destination or any sound reason at all. The pressure I felt was even stronger than the pressure to graduate or pass the boards! For a time, I feared making decisions knowing that my choices today would impact my long-term career and could affect people around me especially my family.

Thankfully, I heard a podcast which advises young professionals to make a timeline for themselves. True enough, when you try to draw your life on a line, you’d be surprised and wonder why you are in such a hurry in the first place. Here’s a sample:

Sample lifeplan

[Sample life plan only, not the exact one I drew.]

Life does not go on in a breeze, and everything has its appointed time. Although one can argue that what we plan may not necessarily take place in real life, at least setting a vision for yourself would calm your heart – that you are where you are supposed to be right now, and that you’re on the right track.

Finding mentors would also be great as they would help you envision yourself perhaps 10 to 20 years from now. Gaining this experience can come from various forms. They can be your trusted parents, grandparents, other blood relatives, professors, churchmates, or even those interviews or podcasts you can scout from the internet, or biographies you can read in books.

It isn’t healthy to compare yourself to others too. (Yes I’m guilty). Instead, create measures of success for yourself. In this particular season of your life, how would you measure success?

Is it through your money in the bank? (not advisable yet since you’re merely starting to build up your financial wealth, but this ought to be prepared for)

Would it be through new connections, say, new people you meet, or new friends you make?

Would it be every hour you spend with your family or friends?

Would it be through new experiences and learnings you deem to add value to yourself every day?

In the end, the only one who can gauge and benefit from your hard-earned success is yourself primarily.

Appreciate seasons. Finally, we need to appreciate the fact that this particular transitional season in our lives comes only once. We need to recognize that our priorities and success measures change as seasons come and go in our lives. Taking the time to breathe and savor each is a skill we all need to practice. Pace not race.  That’s what my review center for college entrance exams used to say. That is also the key to maximizing our every season in life. :)

Pahabol tip: limit your FB time, and turn off notifications from your mobile device for more focus, presence of mind, and happiness.

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