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YOLO: How to Decide What to Do with Your Career and Your Life

By: Teri Bernstein


Regardless of your belief system, the only life that you can make decisions about is the one you are living now. And even if you are independently wealthy, your choices about work, career and how you spend your time are major factors in determining your personal satisfaction--no matter what hand of circumstances you were originally dealt. 


Getting out of the mindset of "I HAVE to..." and into the mindset of "I GET to..." sometimes requires a change of perspective--particularly if you have gotten into the habit of listening to your relatives or your instructors to guide your life up to this point. Some suggestions delineated in the article linked below include:


  1. Assemble a personal "Board of Directors": Pick a small number of people you trust to talk things over with on a regular basis. You are not alone.
  2. Build a financial cushion: Without a financial cushion, a person cannot act on opportunities or respond to sudden expenses. [Tips for saving]
  3. Take time to introspect and ponder: This has to be scheduled into your calendar. Distraction-free time to really think can help you feel when decisions leave you at peace and confident, rather than nervous or "holding your breath."
  4. "Find a sponsor, not just a mentor": This seems like a tough one, but a mentor can just be a source of advice (or someone who is using your skills to be part of his or her team). A sponsor has your interests at heart. Maybe they see something of themselves in you. At any rate, a sponsor has to be coming from a place of security.
  5. Remember that a career path is not a direct line from point A to B to C: Careers are a marathon, not a sprint. You can't see the end point when you start out. A career path has surprises. Being open to new experiences but being ready to commit and adapt while maintaining your goals are key skills. 


These suggestions are part of an over-arching set of concepts: Legacy, Mastery, Freedom and Alignment. An additional piece of advice offered: "collect experiences and be generous." This means it is OK to be compassionate with yourself and others as you either succeed or fail forward into new challenges and a bigger life. 





  • Who are potential sponsors in your life? Who do you know that has a sponsor? Brainstorm possibilities from among:
    • the higher-ups in your organization
    • members of your extended family;
    • the friends of your parents or other close relatives;
    • past work connections
    • an idealized mentor you do NOT know, but who embodies the qualities that could help you be effective
  • Assemble your own Board of Directors--maybe from among the individuals who can't really serve as a sponsor. Write down three career issues to ask each of the possibilities as you decide who will be your go-to group. 
  • How much do you have in savings? Do you have any other financial safety net? Make a plan for contingencies...and commit to a plan to save.