This year, I completed my tax return as a 1099er for the first time. Aside from the literal crash course experience of organizing receipts, tracking expenses and shifty software, it made me think long and hard about what it means to be self-employed, what it takes to get there, and how I can help shape the definition of entrepreneurship as a millennial.
Admittedly, I’m still not completely certain that I did not fall into being self-employed by total accident, nor could I say that I carefully planned every intentional step that got me here. Yet, what I do know is this – I’m passionate. I’m passionate about ensuring social justice and providing equitable opportunities for people to be their own advocate, voice and human. So, for my first blog post on Millennial Chat and in the spirit of this month’s theme of entrepreneurship, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned about creating my own dream job to do just that.
To see your future, look at your past. Discover your story to help define what it is that you are passionate about. What experiences from your past drive you now? I can remember a moment when I was about 11 and I questioned my dad for always pushing me to be the leader in everything I did, from the director of a class play in 2nd grade to the yearbook editor in junior high. Feeling the pressure of responsibility for my team of fellow 7th graders, I asked, “Why do I always have to be the leader?” I realize now that it’s because I’m good at it. Along with my own experiences, I also know that I’m standing on the shoulders of family members and ancestors who have always been, whether they see themselves as that or not, fearless advocates for social justice. By exploring my past and memorable experiences, I’ve been able to clearly define what drives my “do.”
Let the journey happen. It’s important to define big goals for your future, but you aren’t going to be able to plan every step of the way. Millennial entrepreneurs are innovators, creators, and shake up the status-quo – not for self-benefit, but for the true societal impact that it can have on our world. When you are doing big things, you will fail. Hard. That’s what happens when you are working to enact change. But you will also see great success. Working to reinvent how we educate kids reminds me that I must question everything, collaborate and always see failures as opportunities.
You can’t turn it off. That is, I’m never a “part time” leader, innovator, creator – I’m always bringing the full “me” to everything I do. By now we have all tried to figure out how to find work/life balance. I don’t think there’s such a thing. I believe in work/life harmony. Yes, there will be times when work is my blood, sweat and tears for days, weeks, even months. But I’ve learned that there are people in my life that help drive my passions. They, too, can be my blood, sweat and tears at times. I make it a priority that they are.
Hustle. Do the hard work to get to the results you want. In today’s world of “democratized” everything (fashion, education, funding), there’s no excuse not to know. Knowledge is there and it’s available. Read, watch, talk, chat, hangout, click or whatever you need to do to bring yourself to the table as someone who can contribute something meaningful and insightful. Millennial are burdened with not having the years of “experience,” but you better believe I know how to get in the know.
Above all, find what drives your innermost core – that guttural feeling you get for something you are so deeply passionate about. And make sure you find that every day.