University Success Plan is a Myth

I remembered graduating from university and starting my new job as an engineer, thinking my life was set.

I accomplished everything my parents and society had taught me – > which was … get good grades, go to university, graduate with a safe degree and get a job.

Once achieved, I thought I could sit back, breathe a sigh of relief and live life happily ever after.

If only I knew!

17 years later and reflecting deep on my life, I’ve experienced at least ten different jobs in life, some at the same time because of my immense curiosity and desire to explore.

According to the report Thinkopolis IV: Time to Work, by Workapolis, where they searched through more than 7,000,000 resumes, 51% of people have changed jobs every couple of years since 2000.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will experience 8 to 10 jobs by the time they are 38.

Turns out the old way of thinking, where you could study something, get a job in the same field and be set for life….is unfortunately outdated and will be extinct.

It can feel scary that the path from student to working professional isn’t clear and obvious.

Millions of us, young and old, students and professionals are feeling this exact way.

But on the other hand, living an inspiring life filled with experience, curiosity, creativity, and adventure opens up so many possibilities.

Your Journey to an Inspiring Life

This is why I reached out to 14 inspiring group of women to reveal their life-changing advice.

I personally asked one simple but powerful question:

“If you could travel back in time to your twenty-year-old self, what advice would you give yourself?”

I got profound life-changing advice from 14 inspiring women who’ve collectively thrived in several dozens of careers.

Their advice is as diverse as they are.

Their powerful advice can ignite the change and courage that is needed in this world.

Put these words of wisdom to work and watch yourself shift and transform.

Profound Advice and Wisdom about Life, as Revealed from 14 Inspiring Women

Kirpa Kaur Grewal, Board Member for the World Sikh Organization, Ottawa’s Passionate Representative for the Pink Ladoo Project, Former Member at Large for Delta Phi Epsilon’s Zeta Epsilon chapter.

As someone who currently in her early 20s, giving advice is hard as I haven’t had the opportunity to reflect on this time of my life. However, I do think I have something to add to the conversation. One thing I would say is to take advantage of every opportunity given to you. Trust me, I know it’s scary to take on new things! It’s foreign and sometimes your body will even fight it. But once you get past that, I promise it gets better. By throwing yourself into something you are not comfortable with, you are only adding to your life-experience. Also, you can make some awesome connections! (This is so important as a young person!) Throughout my undergrad, I made a conscious effort to put myself out there as much as I possibly could and now as I finish my undergrad, I can confidently say I got so much out of the experience, whether this be public speaking skills, work experience, event planning or networking.

At the same time, it is extremely important to keep in mind your own limitations. Taking on too much can have serious effects on your physical and mental health. You also need to keep in mind that your limit may be different than others, so try not to compare your limit to those of your peers.

Being in your 20’s is an exciting time! You have your entire life ahead of you. I can’t wait to see what our generation is able to achieve.

Julie Broad, Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Successful Real Estate Investor, Popular Speaker, President of Book Launchers

The missing piece is always action. You don’t need to learn more or wait for the perfect time. That thing you want to try or that person you want to become … start today! The best things you’ll experience in life will be terrifying at first. Just go for it. You have your entire life to worry about making money and making other people happy. Today, do something for you. But, if you follow society and stick to the normal path, all you’ll get is a normal life. And, that is probably going to result is a lot of regret. You can make more money, find new friends, and you even recreate yourself if things don’t go well. The only thing you can’t do is get time back … so don’t waste it worrying and wondering.

Sally Guest ~ Change Facilitator / Coach / Founding Member of the Global Coaches Collective

Everything you’ve learnt about life up until this point is upside down. You believe that you will feel whole when you experience true love; you believe that the only person who can fix your body when it’s unwell is a man in a white coat; you believe that you can only make a decision when a friend or family member tells you what to do; you believe that external circumstances dictate the quality of your life. You live in an ‘outside-in’ world.

Please! Stop and take a look inside. Listen to the whisper of your intuition. Start loving and accepting yourself today; start nourishing and caring for your mind and your body; do what lights you up, not what you think you ‘should’ be doing; and recognize the greatest truth of all: your internal circumstances are what truly dictate the quality of your life. Start living in an ‘inside-out’ world and watch the amazing possibilities and your potential unfold.

Christina Hearns, Owner of Namaste My Friends, Owner of Crystalis Retreat Centre, Intuitive Advisor, Yoga Instructor, Reiki Practitioner, Chakra Reader

Do whatever it takes to be yourself. At all cost.You are the only person you have to spend your whole life with so learn to love, trust and honor yourself no matter what and you will never go wrong.

Let yourself be guided through life by one fundamentally important question: “What is the highest, best use of my skills, talents, and time right now?” Fear, in the guise of so-called practical considerations, will try to lure you away from your goals, but if you stick to an honest answer to this question, you will overcome uncertainty and find a path to fulfilment, even through dark moments.

Also, as you move forward, take the time to really learn how money works. Study it, ask questions until you gain clarity, and become comfortable speaking about it. You need to understand that money is a powerful tool that can serve you well if you grow your skills. To have money is to have options for yourself and your family. In time, you will learn just how valuable that is. And when you are tempted to delegate responsibility to your husband, don’t. It’s imperative that women grow their financial confidence and knowledge. Confidence comes through doing, not observing. Know that you are smart enough to do it yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Amanda Shiga, Vice President Marketing Science at Valtech, Sitecore Technology MVP, co-founder of the Consortium for Personalization Professionals and Toronto Sitecore User Group Meetup

Trust the journey. Your 20s can be a wonderful time for travelling, expanding, exploring, learning and working hard. There will be painful mistakes, but as long as you stay open to opportunities, every good and bad experience will guide you to greater wisdom. Make sure you go out into the world, take some risks and tell people what you want so they can help you get there.

At the same time, start a savings plan immediately. Having a financial cushion saved up will give you incredible freedom of choice and control of your time once your priorities start changing (and they will definitely change even if it’s hard to imagine now). Decisions about houses, startups, grad school, children, cities, countries, career – these may all hit at various times. Give your future self the gift of time and freedom.

Dr. Jola Sikorski, Naturopathic Doctor, Recipient of CCNM’s Humanitarian Award, Naturopathic Doula

Don’t forget to invest in yourself. When you take the time to discover and practice what nourishes you on a physical, emotional, and soulful way, you make more space for opportunity. You have ideas to cook up, dreams to pursue, places to be, and people to help, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care isn’t just a hashtag for a manicure; it’s a lifestyle change. The most profound self-care isn’t an escape from your everyday life. It’s a way to strategize and create a sustainable lifestyle that supports yourself and doesn’t lead to burnout. It often looks like mundane tasks that are easy to put off like cooking healthy foods, making a budgeting spreadsheet, scheduling a mole removal, or moving on from a relationship that no longer serves you. Fill up your schedule, but don’t forget to make room for taking care of yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish. When you feel your best self, you’re ready to take on the world.

Amarpreet Vaid – Engagement Strategy Advisor at Carleton University, Certified Personal Trainer, Entrepreneur

As someone who is nearing the end of her 20’s, a piece of advice I would give myself is take the leap, invest in yourself, fulfil your soul and truly find your passion. You will not get this on the first, second or third try. It will come with trial and error. You may think you truly love something, but in turn you might find something you are more passionate about along the way. However, you will not discover this until you literally put your fear aside – whether you are afraid of failing or you think you are not good enough. A regret of mine now, although it is never too late, is that I didn’t try and discover more about myself. I wish I took the opportunity to do more. Don’t get me wrong, I was very involved however, I very rarely went outside my comfort zone.

In university, I recommend taking advantage of student experience trips they have available at undergraduate levels. You will discover so much about yourself and the world around you. You will appreciate where you are, what you want to do to help others and experiences like this will help you discover your future.

At the end of the day, it is easier said than done. We are put on a path and if you don’t follow it you are considered a failure. Truth be told, I wish I fell off that track multiple times to learn more. I completed by undergrad degree as a full time student in four years, while I was a varsity athlete, worked part time and was involved and President of many clubs on campus. In turn, if I could rewind my student experience and young professional life, I would have done a fifth year to really take in that experience. With all that to say, try new things and flourish in this competitive world because you have so much in you to offer, more than you know but will soon find out if you put yourself out there!

Daria HillExecutive Communications Professional, Successful Real Estate Investor, Mom, Wife, Daughter, Dreamer

The advice I would give to my 20 year old self is to choose a path that excites you. Choose not what you think you should do, or what your family or external forces suggest that you do. If you don’t know what excites you in your 20s, give yourself the freedom to try as many experiences as you can that develop you in different ways until you find the thing that you think about most in the morning or before bed, or that which you gravitate to learning about in your free time. Listen to that inner voice in your head that is curious and inspired.

I would also tell my 20 year old self to be confident and believe wholeheartedly that you deserve success and that you truly can do anything that you put your mind and hustle into. Set good habits – mental, emotional and physical – early. Save more, incur as little debt as possible, and be frugal choosing quality over quantity.

Teri Kingston – Certified Public Speaking and TEDx Coach, Owner/ Real Impact Speaking, Entrepreneur

When my now 34-year-old daughter, Danielle, turned 20, I remember thinking what a strong young woman she was and how much clearer she was about who she was at that age than I was! This was in no way due to my excellent mothering skills but was more a sign of the type of education she had growing up that was very different from mine. She was taught to focus more on her strengths than her weaknesses, was celebrated for her significant accomplishments and always encouraged to reach for more.

My 20 year old self was deep in a performing arts degree (piano), plagued with nerves, lack of confidence and no clear sense of who I was or who I wanted to be. It took me 30+ more years of significant and ongoing focus on self-development and personal growth to start to feel comfortable in my own skin. I would love to go back in time and tell 20 year old Teri that she was loved, cherished, incredibly talented and that she would, in years to come, change people’s lives by helping them tell their own stories. Loving herself is the most important thing to learn. All the rest will follow.

Amy Fong Intellectual Property Lawyer, Patent & Trademark Agent, Engineering Physics Engineer, Nominee for the 2018 YWCA Women of Distinction Award

You know best what you want out of your life — seek out advice, but don’t let others decide for you. Don’t think you have to do it all at once. To develop your career, focus on gaining as much experience as you can, whether it’s paid or volunteer work.

Just because that item is on sale, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Be minimalist, be selective and build a capsule wardrobe (Google that if you don’t know what it means…wait, did Google even exist back then?). Invest your money in things that can appreciate in value (hint: listen to mom, you’ll thank me later.)

Raylene Lang-Dion, Future candidate for Ottawa Municipal Council in Alta Vista, Ward 18, Youth Service Bureau Foundation Board Member, Former National Chair of Equal Voice: Electing More Women in Canada and Former Chair of the Community Addiction Peer-Support Association

As I had a milestone birthday this year, providing advice to my 20 year old self takes on a

whole new meaning. It’s about that balance between looking back on life and at the same time, not having regrets. That is important. So, I have two pieces of advice: Don’t be afraid and get comfortable with the idea that not everyone has to like you.

Facing that feeling of fear is part of coming to terms with who you are, and letting go again and again and again of what makes you insecure. Everyone has insecurities and if they tell you otherwise, well, don’t believe them! Know in your heart that you are essentially a good person with much to contribute in life. To not be afraid is to say to yourself often that you know ‘who has your back’; to embrace the fact that no person is perfect; and most importantly, to develop techniques to work through your fear.

The idea that not everyone has to like you brings back all sorts of memories from high school when the popular cliques were everywhere and you didn’t fit-in. Yikes! To give yourself permission to say that not everyone is going to like you is incredibly freeing and the earlier you do it, the better. Instead of agonizing over the fact, I really wish someone has told me to focus on learning how to negotiate during difficult conversations and be comfortable with working through tense situations. It took me a while as I used to be crushed on a regular basis, but it can be done.

So onwards! As the saying goes, you only have one life…

To my 20 year old self – and to you reading this – I say, “You Are Enough.”

People often say to ‘be you’ but sometimes it’s hard to understand what they mean. The sooner that you realise that virtually everyone is walking around with a ‘mask’ on pretending to be ok and feel ok, you’ll realise, it’s actually normal to NOT to feel ok all the time, yourself. And that is very freeing indeed.

The more time you spend nurturing yourself. Slowing down and really taking time just for you, not to please anyone else. The more that you are really PRESENT, living in the moment. The more joy you will experience.

When you follow your joy – that is when you are ‘being you’.

Let go of worrying about your weaknesses, focus on strengthening your strengths.

You are perfectly ok in your imperfection. Let go of worrying what others think (they think WAY less about you than you realise – because remember they’re so busy focusing on themselves.)

Be kind. Be grateful. Show love.

To everyone you can.

Every day.

Donna Baker, World-Ranked (10) Women’s Master Wake-Surfer; CPA; Canadian Ski Patrol & VP Fin Exec Gatineau Zone; Mother & Wife; Special Advisor and Diversity & Inclusion Blog Champion @ Export Development Canada

Pay close attention to how you speak to yourself. What we tell ourselves we can and cannot do may be the biggest obstacle to a life lived to our greatest potential. There is a simple exercise that can help see where you stand. Take 2 pieces of paper. On the first write your biggest GOAL (eg “I will be a professional accountant, .” ). Then see what thought comes to you. If it is NEGATIVE, write it on the second piece of paper. Keep repeating until you have emptied your mind. It is fascinating how many more negative thoughts flood our conscious (eg “I am not good a math, Matt said I’m an idiot. “). Keep repeating writing the GOAL on one page and the NEGATIVE thoughts on the other. When you are done. Look at each NEGATIVE thought, and ask yourself :” Am I going to let that stop me from my greatest potential?: If not cross it off. If you are having difficulty crossing it off, know that it is what is standing between you and your goal and you have an important decision.

We all do this unconsciously. This exercise makes us pay attention to our self-talk and the micro decisions that we make if we let the negative thoughts shape our decisions.

G.R.I.T. is a more telling characteristic correlated to long term success than any natural talent.

Guts: to dream Big and not be afraid to fail

Resiliency: To bounce back from negative thoughts and experiences (failure is research!)

Initiative: This is your life each micro decision (20min of study and practice vs Instagram) is a step towards mastery

Tenacity: never.give. up. I think I may have earned this trait best from my terrier. Nobody was wanted that ball more. Pure focus.

Originally published at