Life after the finish line, where to from here?


Update August 2015: This is the first blog post I published on my old blog, Making It Up back in May 2014! While a lot of my blog (now Career Chronicles) has changed since I penned this post, I wanted to keep this without updating it, as a reminder to myself of how far I've come! Some of my old posts really reflect the challenging situation I was in at the time - I was desperately unhappy at work, and couldn't work out how to get myself out of this situation. If you are feeling unhappy with your current job or circumstances, read this and remember you can only go forwards. Phoebe. 

Life after the finish line

I never considered myself to be the “marathon running” type. Long distance has never been my thing. Recently though I realised that I had been running a metaphorical marathon all my life, and the finish line had snuck up on me. Now I was standing on the other side, with no idea where to go.

The other day, a blog post by Gretchen Rubin caught my eye, where she talked about the danger of the finish line:

“A finish line marks a stopping point, and once we stop, we must start over, and starting over is harder than starting. The more dramatic the goal, the more decisive the end—and the more effort required to start over.”

These feelings are pretty common for someone in their mid 20s. The finish line mentality starts building at school: you work hard to get good grades, your good grades get you into your chosen degree, where your continued dedication and ability to manage the multiple extracurriculars you need to show your diversity of talent lands you an internship, and ultimately you land yourself the holy grail of all career goals: the grad job.

Getting a grad job in a highly competitive market is a huge achievement. A big tick off your life list. So you happily get on board the daily grind, and chances are you are so busy learning, trying to impress, trying not to screw up that a few months or years fly past.

But then what? Until now, your measure of career success has always been to land yourself a good job, not put those student debts to waste, get your first set of business cards. Then one day you wake up, and wonder to yourself - what on earth now?!

This is the danger of the finish line.

In her post, Gretchen noted that once we decide that we have achieved success, we tend to stop moving forward. So how do you get back on the right track?

I am not going to lie. This realisation hit me a few months ago, and it hit me pretty damn hard. Getting back on track wasn’t easy. In fact, some days I hardly had the energy to get out of bed, let alone redefine my goals, work out where I am going and who I am.

Where to from here?

Working in a busy profession, its pretty easy to forget who you are. Taking a step back, to remember who I am, and what is important to me, was the first step to getting back on track.

So I am trying a new approach: I am going to be me. I am looking for ways to combine my work, with things that I am passionate about - mentoring, learning and being inspired. I am creating goals that are more diverse. I am going to have time for the relationships that are important to me, but I am also going to put myself out there and meet new and interesting people. I am going to stop beating myself up about my perceived flaws. I am going to be positive, and take charge of my own life. To do things my own way.

Sure, within these goals I have measures of success. And everyday I feel that I am getting closer to achieving these. It is time to take a break from the exhausting finish lines.