1. I decided on what I wanted and I believed in it.
Months before graduation, I found myself contemplating where I wanted to work and who I wanted to be. I remember the exact moment: I was sitting in a rocking chair at the local daycare where I worked part-time, a baby asleep in my arms, and I was looking out the window. I remember imagining my future self, where I’d be. And I remember feeling this little tug at my heart, telling me to be a writer. So I believed it. Despite the voices that said, writers don’t make any money, you won’t have a real future, that’s not practical, you’re not going to find a job. I still believed.
2. I made lists. Plenty of lists.
To-do lists, goal lists, dream job lists, long-term to-do lists, and happy lists. I put these in my planner, in my purse, on my walls, and stuck them to my dashboard. They were things I wanted to accomplish, things I wanted to do in the now and in the future. And each time I checked something off I knew I was getting closer.
3. I gave myself realistic goals to work towards, and committed to meeting them.
Goals are everything. I made goals for small things and huge, down-the-road things. But these goals—obtainable yet challenging—force you to push yourself brought me to where I wanted to be.
4. I built my resume by saying yes to a ton of stuff.
Yes to volunteering. Yes to two internships. Yes to a writing group. Yes to Open Mic Nights and writing for the school newspaper and giving campus tours and meeting with the Alumni Board. I said yes to so many things that sometimes I was completely overwhelmed, but it was all so incredibly worth it.
5. I worked my butt off in college.
I wrote and rewrote essays. I studied. I turned in homework on time and I always gave my best effort. I pulled through with high grades which made my dreams even more possible.
6. I literally worked my butt off in college.
There was a point where, I kid you not, I worked 8 part-time jobs. I was up every morning for a 5:30 shift and stayed up until 11 for a closing shift. I was tired and crabby and sometimes super lonely, but I made money, had incredible experiences, and built working relationships that gave me both references and friends.
7. I sharpened my resume.
I added to my resume, organized it, revised it, had people critique it, and revised it again. It was my life and accomplishments on a 2-sided sheet of paper. It had to be perfect.
8. I did what I was passionate about…with a passion.
My passion is writing. So I wrote. And I wrote a lot. I wrote whenever I had free time. I wrote when I didn’t. I wrote before I went to bed and I wrote during my class breaks. I created blogs and posted to those blogs. I submitted pieces for publication and revised old pieces. I wrote feverishly and religiously.
9. I talked to mentors, got plenty of advice, and then followed my heart.
When the final months before the ‘real world’ hit, I talked to anyone and everyone who could give me advice on my major. I picked their brains about their own careers and lives and I listened as they shared their successes and failures. I applied to graduate schools and pursued jobs across the country. Then I followed my heart and chased my dream career.
10. I went after what I wanted. Relentlessly.
I applied to where I could see myself. I followed up with emails. I kept writing and submitting and applying, even when I was unsure.
11. I made mistakes and learned (quickly) from them.
I messed up an interview by not keeping the lines of communication flowing, so I did everything I could to rebuild. I learned. And I pursued.
12. I filled myself with confidence.
I took pride in what I had created. I shared my resume and my accomplishments with a smile, and took ownership of my work.
13. I proved myself.
I wrote until it was apparent that I was a good writer. Then I continued to be a good writer by creating and presenting my best.
14. I didn’t give up, even when I ‘made it’.
When I finally landed the job I wanted, I kept proving myself. Every single day. I challenged myself, wrote with abandon and wrote with rigidity. I got to where I wanted, but I didn’t stop.
Now I’m making more goals, creating more dreams, and of course, making new lists.