Originally published on The Everygirl
We’re living in the age of the hustle, where moving forward in our passions and careers is of the utmost priority. Sometimes, though, moving a career forward or starting a brand new one can seem overwhelming — who do I talk to? How do I build up my portfolio? What do I even want to do?! As someone who’s just starting out in her writing career, I decided to take the recommendation to “do one thing every day that furthers my career” seriously: Every day for the last two weeks, I took one step — big or little — towards my idea of vocational fulfillment. Here’s what went down.
Day 1: Significant time thinking through what I love and what I want to do. Then don’t settle.
One of my strengths is vision casting; dreaming about the future excites me. So rather than making a step-by-step guide of what this week was going to look like, I spent this first day taking some real time to figure out what my dreams actually are. Some questions I asked myself were: What topics excite me to read and write about? What can I focus on for a long time without losing that excitement? What kind of work environments do I thrive in? What are my strengths, and what am I not so great at? This day ended in a handwritten list of ideal working situations. The goal now? Trust your skills and don’t settle.
Day 2: Read what I wanted to write
It’s important for whatever career field you’re looking into that you be immersed in that world; it’s hard to pour out if you’re not being poured into. For me, that looks like reading the publications I admire — The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, ELLE — and making sure that I’m consuming media that will positively influence my writing style and technique.
Day 3: Lunch with a mentor
If you don’t have a mentor, this must be on the top of your career to-do list. Finding one or two people in your ideal career field who have significant experience will serve you in so many ways — you have someone to ask questions to, to bounce ideas off of, to settle your anxieties about how you’re doing in your work, and to encourage you to make changes if you need to. Relationships, in any field, are key.
Day 4: Freshened up my resources
As someone trying to establish a career in a creative field, it’s important that my portfolio website, resume, and cover letter are aesthetically up to par. I spent some time this day using Adobe InDesign and Canva to spruce up those resources in ways that both put my accomplishments on display and also stood apart from the crowd.
Day 5: Reach out to women I admire with compliments and questions
In my experience, I’ve found that people — especially other creatives or freelancers — are more than willing to offer advice or make connections, likely because someone gave them an extra boost when they were first starting out, too. I decided to swallow my fear of being shut down and sent a quick email or DM to a handful of female writers and creatives that I admired, offering up a genuine compliment and asking them a specific question about their career journey.
Day 6: Passion side project, always working on what I want to do most
So, you’ve been reading this article and you’re like, “I just figured out what I want! I have nothing to show for it yet!” Starting out in a new field leads to that cycle of needing a job for the experience but also needing the experience to get that job. If you’re looking to break into a creative field, create your own clients! Write the articles you’d like to see published in your favorite magazine. Re-brand a company or re-design their graphics. Create for the clients you want to have, and trust that you’ll get there someday.
Day 7: Nothing. Rest is important.
It’s a big deal in our culture to always be producing, and our rest time seems to look like Netflix binges and treating ourselves to an entire pizza. I take Sundays off from doing anything that will further my career (seriously) to give myself some much-needed breathing time. Scheduling rest time into my life stops that wild swing of too much work followed by too much laziness. Taking even just a few hours of margin time to discover what it is that makes you feel truly recharged (reading for fun, playing with your dog, having intentional conversations with friends) will do wonders for your work once you hop back into it.