When I went to school the career counselor asked me, “What do you want to do?”
I shrugged my shoulders and asked “What jobs can I do?”
I can still clearly see the brochure she handed me, the jobs included;
There certainly weren’t the opportunities available like there are now and even though jobs like Interior Designer probably existed, it certainly wasn’t listed on my career counselor’s brochure.
With brochure in hand I slunk out of her office thinking to myself ‘none of the above.’
The expectation was to get a degree, chose a good company that gave you opportunity for growth, start at the bottom and work your way up.
So I did what everyone else was doing and applied for different courses, although I still had no idea what I wanted to spend the rest of my live doing. I got accepted into a couple of courses but put the papers in the recycle bin after initially deciding none of them appealed… two days later I fished through the bin and got the papers back out (thank God for recycling), deciding one of them might be ok after all.
Age 22, after 4 years of studying with a Bachelor of Business degree in hand and a major in Advertising, I hustled my way into my first job. After 18 months (having met some great people but not really enjoyed my job) the pull of mixing with other cultures and having new experiences took me overseas travelling for 2 years. Travelling was a great release as I didn’t have to think about my career and even with my degree and work experience under my belt, I was none the wiser on what I wanted to do.
On my return back to my home in New Zealand, I knew what I didn’t want… I didn’t want to go back working in an advertising agency (great that I had a degree in advertising!) My father had always been in sales, as a child we grew up selling fruit on the side of the road or at the bottom of our driveway and my part-time job while I’d studied had been in sales. I had a lightbulb moment; I’d get a sales job in the advertising industry – perfect. I short-listed the companies I wanted to work for and sent my CV with a compelling letter of why they should employ me. A company took up my offer and I eagerly started at the bottom of the ranks, over the next 10 years I worked hard climbing the corporate ladder.
I have always been one to rise to challenges, I am not very good at sitting still and even worse when I’m not progressing. So at 36 years of age after only ever being an employee I left the corporate world, frustrated, depressed and broken. I had spent years giving my all and, apart from a great job title and a better house, I hadn’t really found my true passion and purpose. I knew I had more to give, I just didn’t know what that looked like.
It wasn’t until 6 months before I turned 40 that I started to feel more energized, and on turning 40, I felt alive! I could clearly see a direction that gave me greater purpose, that fueled my passion. I had a belief in myself that I had never experienced before and I knew that I was capable of creating something truly amazing that would provide far greater fulfillment than anything I’d ever done before in my working life.
I was 40 and I was finally chasing my dream. It’s never to late to start, I feel more alive in my work life now than I ever have, I am on this amazing entrepreneurial journey where I am constantly learning new things and I am constantly challenging what I’m capable of achieving and as a result I’m connecting with people who fuel my passion further. My business is still very much in it’s infancy and although I haven’t reached my financial goals yet, I am living with personal success each and every day. If I hadn’t chased my dream, I would never have experienced the personal growth I’ve achieved. If I hadn’t chased my dream I would have found myself in 30 years time looking back with regrets, wondering “what if?,” knowing I didn’t live life to the fullest, knowing I took the easier road but the least rewarding.
Don’t let age, self-doubt, or another person sabotage you from living your dream, and if you are going to dream, then dream BIG… why not? If you think that is unrealistic, then ask yourself – what have a got to lose?
Susan Stevens is the founder of New Zealand-based Meme & Co, a jewelry and accessories company with an innovative, woman-centered business model. She has over 18 years experience in sales, marketing and advertising, she climbed the corporate ladder and was committed to her career but her priorities changed when she had her children. Life became a struggle, trying to find a balance between wanting to retain her worth and independence in the workforce without compromising her ability to be a present and attentive mother.
Then, Susan made a terrifying leap – leaving a six figure income to no job and a big mortgage. With a very strong resolve never to go back to the corporate world, and through commitment, perseverance and a passion to succeed, she found as one door closed other doors opened. It was this journey that gave her the motivation and the drive to create an opportunity for other women who want to be in control, who value their independence, who want to be empowered. Her drive to keep a balance between work and family life ultimately resulted in `taking a leap’ into the unknown and embarking on a personal journey of self reflection, new challenges and growth.