Recently LinkedIn sparked its own meme on the professional network: “If I were 22…”
The initial intent? For LinkedIn’s influencers to share their wisdom with folks much younger.
The result? A whole slew of posts from all sorts of LinkedIn members.
Lots of the usual stuff. Follow your passion. Travel if you get the chance. Lead a life of service. Don’t chase the money.
What would I do if I were 22 again?
I’d skip ahead to 32.
That’s right. Just take 10 years right off the top.
Sounds insane, right? But I couldn’t be more serious.
I didn’t really love my 20s all that much after school.
It was an odd time for me, professionally. And, outside of meeting my future wife when I was 25, I didn’t really achieve all that much in my 20s.
I struggled to identify a job or career path I was passionate about.
I struggled to meet new people (I was never really all that good at this earlier in my life–I still think I suck at it, actually).
I struggled to meet girls (it’s a small miracle I met my wife–and an even bigger miracle she agreed to go out with me).
I struggled to even maintain a job at some points–almost getting fired from at least two jobs in my 20s.
Yeah, my memories of my 20s (post-college) weren’t necessarily my fondest.
So, why not skip ahead right to 32?
At age 32 life just started feeling right to me.
We had our first child–another wonderful miracle and someone I can’t imagine living without now.
I found my first job where I truly was engaged and interested (at McGladrey, a consulting/accounting firm).
I worked for what I now describe as my first mentor–someone who changed my career path dramatically.
I found a professional organization where I belonged–PRSA.
I studied for and earned my APR.
A couple years later, I had the opportunity to play a big PR role for the firm.
A year later, I was recruited away from that firm to a small PR firm in St. Paul (Beehive) where my career took yet another big jump (albeit a short-lived one).
And, a couple years after that, I started my own consultancy, which has turned out to be the best decision of my professional life.
Life AFTER 32 has been challenging yet very fulfilling. It’s been full of risk-taking. And, bottom line, it’s just felt right.
Truth be told, as I’m about to hit my 42nd birthday in August, life just can’t get much better than it’s been the last 10 years. It really can’t. And, that’s both extremely satisfying, and terrifying.
But overall, the 10 years from 32 to 42 have been tremendous. Everything the years from 22-32 weren’t–and then some.
I guess my point for those 22-year-olds out there is this: Don’t put so much pressure on yourself when you’re in your 20s. We all move and operate at different speeds. As you can see, I would have been fine skipping my 20s altogether.
Some of you will be successful right out of the gate.
Others will blossom later in their careers.
It’s not a race. It’s your goddamn life.
So, enjoy it. Take it as it comes to you. And don’t be in a rush in your 20s.
I guess that’s my big piece of advice–even though I said I wanted to jump ahead to 32 from 22 🙂