As a Pivot Journeys intern, my awesome boss let me experience the Pivot NYC journey as a participant. She did this for two reasons. First, so I could see what a Pivot Journey really is, and could therefore tailor our social media and marketing campaigns to accurately reflect the company.
Secondly, she knew that those three short days would give me the invaluable insight I so desperately needed, whether I realized it or not, as I start to plan my post-graduation future. And she was right.
Looking back on that Memorial Day weekend, at the time I didn’t think I needed a Pivot Journey prior to going on one. After all, I had visited career services religiously over my past three years at Rollins College. I thought, “They have options for graduates and I have another year before I have to really figure it out.” I was content with this passive attitude toward my future career steps. It was comfortable and the future was scary.
One of my biggest insights from the journey was that comfort zones are just that; zones. With limits, and boundaries, and caution tape.
Like any other zone, comfort zones set parameters. They are dangerous in that they often skew our perception to only see what is within them, and we are, therefore, left unexposed to another world of opportunity.
And that is ten times more terrifying than experiencing a little discomfort.
So, what’s worse? Being exposed or never knowing?
As our group all sat there together discussing our strengths, sharing insights, and listening to feedback, we were exposed. This transparency allowed each person to realize just how unique their skills are to them. Each of us made different decisions for different reasons. Listening to the varied paths everyone had chosen really made you think about your own.
Where would I be when I’m their age? Will I be in a similar situation? How am I going to handle it? In ten years, will I be questioning the decisions I’m making today?
These questions left me unable to stop thinking about the possible answers. After spending a few hours discussing our strengths and then reflecting on the session, I realized something. Instead of capitalizing on these strengths, I was compensating for my weaknesses.
I was focused on what I was bad at and how I might improve in those areas rather than seeking opportunities more in line with my skills.
I was pursuing things that I wasn’t necessarily great at perhaps because I saw good money there or because a relative had done so, or for a variety of other wrong reasons.
Now that I understand my strengths, I am tailoring my post-grad plans to jobs and opportunities that will utilize and value them.
One of my strengths is being futuristic. Before understanding what this strength meant, I saw this perspective as a “head in the clouds” mentality. However, I can see the positive aspect of being able envision what the upcoming months or years should, could, or will look like. Combining this with my creativity, I have realized a new dream of buying and planning for a big department store.
I would have otherwise thought that this career path wasn’t in sync with my studies. I now have the confidence that my strengths will be put to great use in a profession of this kind, which has opened up so many new possibilities.
My favorite insight from my journey was to look for the possibilities in everything.
Opportunity is everywhere, if only you dare to seek it out.
But where do you begin? What kind of opportunities are you even looking for? Which of these makes sense to pursue?
You’re the only one who can only answer these questions. And, trust me, they’re not easy questions to answer. But knowing your unique skills and understanding why you excel at certain things gives you the necessary tools you need to respond to life’s inquisitive nature.
Taking the time to figure out what I’m good at and what I like to do has been instrumental in my mindset toward my future.
Suddenly, rather than a terrifying black hole, the future was exciting.
Things made sense, and gaps were filled. I now understood what my key strengths are and how they affect what I am motivated by. The unknown abyss is no longer intimidating; it’s stimulating. I can now make deliberate steps toward a future that I actually want and I encourage you all to do the same.
You never know if you don’t try.
You won’t miss the caution tape.
Taylor Burns was a summer intern with Pivot Journeys in 2016 and now a graduate of Rollins College.