Embrace the chaos.

Ahhhh the lurking end of 2019 and a new decade looming. Does the word 2020 give you chills? Make you nervous? Excited? Apprehensive?

When a new year swings around a lot of us feel pressured to take stocktake of our lives, review what we achieved over the past year and set kickass one’s for the next.

Whether you are graduating, choosing an internship, applying for jobs, making a career move or maybe considering to withdraw form uni altogether … life may feel quite chaotic right now.

If we don’t have a ‘plan’ or feel lost, it can cause us to become quite tight-lipped in conversations about what the next few months look like … or it can lead us to avoid the chance of those conversations ever happening and slowly decline all social invitations until we find ourselves holed up for the 4th weekend in a row watching re-runs on Netflix…

I’m here to give you a digital pat on the back and let you know that during the final countdown of 2019 – it’s ok to embrace the chaos.

And like all Career Hacks articles, here’s your step-by-step guide on how to do just that.

1 // Since when did having a ‘plan’ equate having your sh*t together or being successful?

I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but there was a definite shift during my degree when not having a 20-step career plan, complete with a powerpoint presentation and justification of pain points was frowned upon and sometimes downright smirked at.

In fact, it makes me giggle now to think that I also got caught up in the hype of obsessing over what my move year-by-year would be and what skills I HAD to have by 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.

Let me be frank – there’s nothing wrong with mapping out where you want to be or how you’re going to get there. But you need to be open to the fact that sometimes opportunities don’t wait for you to be ready, and they certainly don’t stick around whilst you decide if it fits into your career pros and cons spreadsheet.

2 // Your career and life are not separate. They will never be separate.

Ouch. This sentence speaks volumes. Why? Because for a lot of us, it’s a hard to pill to swallow. 5 days. 40 hours a week. 80 hours a fortnight. Roughly 2080 hours a year (give or take with leave, public holidays etc).

When you embrace the chaos of a career, you are embracing all of it. The overtime, the late nights, the early mornings, the successes, the learnings, the scary conversations with your bosses, the laughs with your colleagues, the epicness of using your degree/diploma/skills to tangible use.

All of those moments? They tie into your life. They influence the person you are, day in, day out. When you embrace the chaos, you need to realise the very profound importance of what you do during these hours.

Don’t rush the chaos. Slow it down, bring back your career decisions to the basics: Does this career decision align with my why? Do the people I will be working with share the same values as me? In some aspect, does this career decision help me along my very long and windy career journey?

3 // Don’t retreat. Face it head on.

There is no doubt in my mind that you, like me, don’t want any one else to see when we’re struggling. A big part of the struggle is removing ourselves from any instance where our perfect little facade may crumble i.e. hanging out with friends, dinner with family, or any professional event.

What’s actually really cool, is that once you embrace the chaos and pack it in your bag and take it with you everywhere you go … it’s actually empowering.

There are many people who you will meet professionally and personally who will not talk about failure or uncertainty, or anything that doesn’t involve the very best reflection of themselves. And that’s OK. But you should never feel alone in embracing the chaos. Because here you are, with all your chaos and unknowns … and courage!

That last adjective is one that isn’t associated with very many people – because they don’t take chances or take the road less followed! Don’t retreat, embrace the chaos and face it head on.

Finally …

Regardless of what your next few days, months or years may look like, never forget of the many, MANY steps you have taken to get to where you are today.

Write them down. The good, the bad, the ugly, the awesome. They don’t have to be solely career-related (*ahem* career + life go hand in hand), and they certainly don’t need to be any footsteps that you have to share with anyone else.

You will find that you have been through many ‘chaotic’ periods in your life, and there will be plenty more to come …