At this time, it is no secret that I just graduated from College. This is a critical period in life when people start wondering about their future dream jobs, what would really make them happy, should they care about the pay rate or the mission of the work they will associate with.
Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of the popular Mind Valley, had similar experiences when he graduated and was hired by Microsoft. He said that even though he was just hired by a giant, and held an enviable job, he felt unhappy still. His career was going great, his parents were very proud as he fulfilled their wish, yet he felt there should be more than spending most of his life filling a seat at some job after years of studies. Why should we live our lives in such a box, fulfilling the direction in which society wants us to go; yet reports show that after few years of work after graduation multiple folks are dissatisfied with their job and their work-home life.
Months before I graduated, I spoke with a close friend of mine and expressed some doubts and uncertainty I was feeling at the time. I have always been a career woman, so getting my degree was a ‘must’ for me. However, now that I was about to graduate, and finally had the job I wanted, I found myself wondering: “is that it?” I felt there should be more. The idea that all that was left was for me to live the rest of my life working just to earn more money, seeking a promotion and to accumulate as much as possible for retirement just did not seem or feel right. In fact, I felt like it defeated the purpose of the experiences I challenged myself to live so far. I did not learn new languages, see so many diverse cultures, learned so much and gained this rich life perspective just to maintain a job and seek to make money during my active years. I felt the need to thrive instead, and I had to figure out what thriving meant to me very quickly.
I felt ungrateful for feeling this way. Yet again, this was quite a provoking thought for me especially after spending eight years to get a degree here in the USA – two years to further learn the English language as a native French speaker, another year working, and the rest spent on tons of assignments and seating in a classroom. This was when my friend introduced me to the story of Vishen Lakhiani, and of Joe Rogan, all of whom have had fulfilling carriers yet felt dissatisfied and sought a different path for themselves. Having these examples of similar emotions I was experiencing took away my feeling of guilt. Then came the idea of finding out what brings me joy, for if I had just achieved what I desired and still felt they should be more, I had to reevaluate my life to find out what will make me feel like I am thriving. It was clear that I did not want to feel like I was living my life for a job, then try to fill the gap by doing all sort of activities I did not really care about.
So I did some soul searching to get my life and my emotion on the right course. I had to rethink about what makes me happy, I reminisced about why I left my country in the first place, of my life’s mission. Then I was reminded that I love the challenge, I enjoy to keep on learning new things, and I care about the impact of my work and deeds on society and on the lives of the folks around me. I also recalled the delightful books I read such as Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki who advised “young people to seek work for what they will learn, more than what they will earn. For education is more valuable than money in the long run.” I thought of The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill which was about harvesting the self potential and learning how to navigate life to be successful, and then Thrive: the Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Ariana Huffington. Hence discovering my happy place was on its course and was not going to take long as I already had a good base.
For years I took pleasure in serving the community, I love being a humanitarian as it means a lot to me to help underprivileged kids in my country and around the world; which I realized I should do more of. I also love being an Industrial Engineer (IE) too because working on creating harmony and efficiency in any system and environment pleases me. I love that being in the IE field makes me want to keep on challenging myself intellectually and be great at it; it also pushes me to start new and exciting ventures of my own. Being able to blend these into my life did make me happy. Creating a platform that challenges me to do it because people follow my journey, and making people profit from the life perspective I gained from my multiple and diverse experiences made sense to me. In addition, creating this space will help promote what I do for more people to join which make it merrier. Hence the birth of karenkakou.com.
Interestingly, finding what truly brings me joy and acting on it via my projects and by sharing my idea, findings and life perspectives through my articles, helped me appreciate more the opportunity I have to work in my field of study with a company I am glad to join and that will recompense my work by allowing me financial stability. In turn this stability will enable me to do more humanitarian works, more projects, to be more adventurous, to go places, to search more, and to share the exciting life it will be with the world. Suddenly, I felt happy, enthusiastic, motivated to do more and super excited to go to my job and be great at it. My attitude toward the people around me changed, I now tend to reach out more, to surround myself with fun and interesting people, I love more and to want to learn more, share more. This is living to me. You should not want to survive but to live and thrive.
It is very important to find your purpose in life and to plan your activities around living
that purpose if you want to be happy. You cannot live your life checking the boxes as society tells you to. We cannot all fit the mindset that one has to finish school at a certain age, get a job, marry at a certain age, have children and maybe live happily ever after. If this is what brings you joy, then that is what you should go for. But I think that too many people fall into complacency by fear of failure, of not being accepted into normalcy, to feel secure.
But if you dare to want to thrive, then make education, or better, ‘learning’ the cornerstone of your life, equip yourself with your purpose and go discover life – first you must travel because seeing others’ way of life is enlightening, then be open to diverse experiences that fits your life purpose.
This applies to everyone rich or poor, newly graduated or long time graduate, from developing countries or developed ones. The difference between what a rich can afford to do versus a financially challenged is just in the magnitude but the perspective and the effect is the same. I always like to say, a 5-years-old struggling to lift a bowl of water dissipates the same energy as a 25-years-old struggling to lift a bucket of water. The weight of the water may not be the same but the learning that will come out of that exercise is exactly the same: they will both end up knowing their limits and strength and what they need to do to get better. When I could not afford to travel, I went to live with and work for my wealthy uncle whom I was curious to learn from for some time. Once I could afford more, I travelled to the USA and elsewhere to get more experiences. The person I have become out of these two situations is still a better and improved person, just differently triggered. So please do not make any excuses and seek to live up to the maximum of your potential no matter your circumstances and background.
You must find what brings you joy in life and get to it if you are to feel fulfilled. Otherwise you may have all the money from your hard work, the cars and houses, and still be dissatisfied and unhappy. But if we seek to thrive first, then the kids, the family, the career, the money will come as a support. Furthermore, you will be more equipped to handle all of it, whether in good or though times because you forged yourself first. Living the life that brings us joy will make us better citizens, better parents, better coworkers, better and happier human beings. I believe we all ought to live to the maximum of our potential because each of us are part of a divine connection that maintain the universe, so when one is not functioning as he/she should, we have an imbalance. Therefore, if not for your own happiness and self-fulfillment, seek to be at your greatest as a duty, and do not fall into complacency. That is how one has more than just a job and a dissatisfying life after graduation.
More fun to you on this exciting journey called life. May this new year 2018 brings you joy and helps you find your purpose. Happy New Year!
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In addition to the books I mentioned above, you can check these few links below as a start to learn how to change your life perspectives on complacency versus thriving:
1- Henry Rollins and Joe Rogan talk about soul-crushing jobs
2- By Michael Beckwith:</h4>
a) How to activate your highest potential and feel inspired</h4>
b) Questions to Ask the Universe to Help Unfold your Biggest Gifts</h4>