After You Graduate, Pay Attention to That Which You Gravitate

In recent months, I've witnessed several young people graduate from college. It's an exciting time! When I was younger, I recall an older gentleman telling me something that rings true to this day: "When you're young, you can't speed life up fast enough. But, when you're old, you can't slow life down fast enough!" Truer words couldn't be said. Maybe you feel the same way.

If you're a Veteran taking advantage of your G.I. Bill or even a Military Spouse or Family Member returning to school, exciting times await you upon graduation. By now, you've read to, listened to, or talked about top career choices found in today's workplace and what all that means once you don that cap & gown to receive your Diploma. At some point, you get motivated to find the right opportunity. School becomes something that is about to end, and with it a new opportunity to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Do you plan to follow the so called "hot careers" lists and try to get a job in those fields declared the best? Do you plan to chase a particular industry or profession because you heard it is great for long-term employment? Do you plan to chase the dollars and live by the "new golden rule" — make all you can and "can" (as in save) all you get? Do you plan to join the Officer ranks and earn a commission? Do you plan to reach the goal of obtaining your degree before a successful career within the Enlisted or NCO ranks? Do you plan to pursue a career just because someone you love or respect told you do so?

You don't have to decide now, but at some point in life, you need to assess or re-assess your career choice and career path.

I've met plenty of people who have found their 'Calling". Their calling is that thing that wakes them up in the morning motivated to excel. (And, not necessarily the excel of the spreadsheet type!). When you talk to these people, you can just feel their intensity about what they do! Without bragging or boasting or being a show-off, they exude confidence in their competence. When you walk away from them, you feel like you're ready to conquer anything you set out to do! Think about that for a moment. Do you know someone that leaves that type of impression on you?

I recall a story of a guy who participated in a corporate training exercise. This exercise required participants to speak freely and create a speech or poem or a song. The idea was to let their individual creativity and communication style to flow, their ideas to travel from the mind to the mouth, and to put no limits on what they said. This guy did a sort of free-style poem and everyone in the room hung on every word he spoke. They even clapped afterwards, much to this dude's surprise! After all, this was his gift and something he simply gravitated to for years without really recognizing it. After this particular employee got finished, a coworker turned to him and said, "Man, you missed your calling!" From then on, this changed the way this person viewed his talents and skills.

On last week's blog article on GOING CIVILIAN, I shared the story of a Friend of mine who did something similar. He was about to graduate and started to gravitate toward his career of choice. He got exactly what he wanted career-wise too! And guess what, that same fire in his belly — that innate ability to follow your gut — resulted in some incredible career highlights! If you want to learn more, please read Doing What You Love Even When Your Job Suggests Otherwise.

Recognizing that graduation does not mean you'll get the ideal job right out of the starting blocks should be by no means a reason to get discouraged. You need to totally immerse yourself in your first job out of college and learn all you can, starting on day one.

But here's a little something to remember:

After you graduate, pay attention to that which you gravitate! You may not initially notice the things at work that keep you engaged at first. As a newbie, you have lots to learn and lots to pay close attention to already. But, it might be a good idea to make physical notes, not just mental notes on the things that you enjoy most at work. Jot down the activities that positioned you at your best. Write down the specifics of when you earn your "Stripes", "Street Cred", or "Rock Star" status while on the job.

Then one day, when you least expect it, you'll find yourself getting promoted or maybe even creating a brand new position that is the best possible fit for you! But, you'll only realize this if you pay attention.

Please share your story!