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Tune in to hear Chelsea cover everything she wishes she'd known before landing her first real job and starting a career. Want to make the most of your first job? Check out this video:

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Chelsea: Hi, I'm Chelsea from The Financial Diet and today I'm here to talk to you about something that's a little bit different from what we usually talk about and that's jobs. And you might be thinking "But Chelsea you talk about jobs all the time!" and that's sort of true, but not really because we don't talk about jobs all the time, we talk about careers a lot on this channel and there's a big difference there. Essentially, to be simple, a job is something that you have to make money and a career is something that combines that need to make money with some kind of passion or longer term goal. And while it's obviously really important to think about your career and to make steps to create the career you want, it's also important not to totally neglect jobs as something that you have to do and you're not excited about.

So something I talk a lot about on the site, but I don't actually talk about a lot about that much on the channel is my own personal history with what I would consider to be "jobs" instead of my career which is now in writing. I'm actually someone who's had every service, retail, domestic job that you could possibly imagine and to be honest with you I got fired from a huge majority of them. Well maybe not a majority, but a huge number of them because the truth was that I didn't take those jobs seriously and I didn't take myself seriously when I was doing them. For example, if I was at a store I would show up late, if I was, you know, working in a coffee shop I wouldn't be friendly sometimes if I was in a bad mood. I just wasn't treating the job as though it was something that I had to be the best version of myself everyday for. 

Now I can obviously look back today and laugh at the fact that I was fired from like conservatively 4 or 5 jobs, but objectively it's not really that funny when you consider that that was someone's business and they had to let me go, which is never pleasant because I just did not take the job seriously. And there were really 2 big times in my life when I found it really hard to take my job seriously. And the first one was when I was in college and I was really sort of shamed at the fact that I had to be making coffee and sandwiches and folding shirts and all of that to make money when I wanted to be doing internships and apprenticeships and other things that I thought were cool and prestigious and would lead me into a great career. And the other time was when I was starting my career as a writer and I was earning maybe 20% of my money from writing, but the rest of the money had to come from things like nannying and tutoring and even like odd jobs like helping people move or clean. And that felt really embarrassing to me and it made me feel like those jobs were like a handicap, which made me really not take them seriously. 

Like many of us it was really important for me to define myself by the work I did and that meant that like when I was starting out as a writer and technically I was a professional writer because I was getting paid, but most of my jobs were other things I still only told people that I was a writer. And I really downplayed all of the other things that I did because I felt like they messed up the identity that I really wanted to have for myself. I didn't want to think of myself as a part-time nanny or a part-time tutor or any of those things. I wanted to think of myself as a writer. And even though looking back, those jobs were essential in letting me do things like pay for college, travel, start my career that I love so much. At the time all that mattered was how impressed people were by my job.

And actually this week on my advice column on TFD I got a question from a young woman who just graduated college and has these big career dreams that she can't really find in a traditional way, she wants to be her own boss in that kind of thing. And she was asking me "How do I do it while earning money the whole time because I'm not rich and I can never not be earning a lot of money?" And that question to me really tapped into a big catch 22 that a lot of us will face sometime in our professional lives. Many times when it comes to work you're faced with this choice between do I take, you know, a 9-5 job that leaves me with not very much flexibility, that I'm not super passionate about, but which is very impressive to other people and which makes me feel and seem like I'm doing things the "right way" and "getting something out of" my degree. Or, on the other hand, you can slowly chip away at the kind of career that might be really passionate for you and in doing that will work a "job" that might leave you a lot more flexibility and the ability to do other things on the side, but isn't as impressive to people. 

And the perfect example of this catch 22 might be the actor who waits tables to be able to go on auditions very frequently versus the person who works a very demanding desk job, but really dreams of being an actor. And you might be thinking "Well, if the person has these really clear dreams about what they wanna do then why don't they do everything they can to make their professional life work around that?" and to me that answer is because no matter how unhappy they might be at that 9-5 job, it comes with so much more prestige from society and people take them more seriously. The feeling of other people being impressed by what you do is addictive and it's hard to give that up.

But it's important to consider how many benefits there are with "jobs" as opposed to careers. The fact that they're temporary in a lot of cases, that you can get them on a short notice like freelance gigs or one offs or what have you. The fact that you don't feel committed to them for life, so that you can, you know, if a big life change comes along you can change jobs along with it. These are huge freedoms that society doesn't value as much because it doesn't seem as outwardly impressive, but they can change you life. So when I look back on my transition from "jobs" to careers and think about how I didn't really make the most of the jobs when I had them, I think that there are really 3 things that I could have done better. To make the most of those jobs and get more out of that transition. 

The first and biggest one would have been to take pride in the fact that I had 4 different sources of income at the time. I now have a lot of friends in my life who very proudly consider themselves always hustling and always doing a new project and always finding a new source of income. But at the time I didn't know anyone like that and I didn't realize how empowering it could be to really own the fact that you're always finding new projects and always changing up your revenue stream. If I had embraced that, I wouldn't have felt like I had to hide half of my jobs. 

The second thing that I could've done was visualize, and I mean literally with a calendar or chalkboard or something, exactly what I was doing with all of these jobs. For example, if you had something that you have to do and you're not super excited about, let's say for example, you know, a catering job a couple weekends a month. If you have visualized exactly what you plan on doing with that money and your goals for it, it becomes way easier to go out and do that job. And if you're working a job that you're not super excited about full-time to transition toward a passion, having a really clear visualization of the objectives you're working toward with your projects is huge. 

And the last thing that I could've done differently, even though this is a little bit more philosophical, was draw my identity from things that weren't my job. And it's so easy in society to get caught into this web of like someone says "Oh, what do you do?" as like their second question and you immediately respond with your job... most of the time. But what if you didn't? What if you were like "Oh, well right now I'm really into this jazz class that I'm taking downtown" or, you know, "I'm starting this new club" or "I'm learning this new language" or "I'm doing every museum in the city this month" or something like that. What if you made it about something other than your job? And what if you forced yourself to do that when you're talking, when you're not even being asked, when you're describing yourself, when you're volunteering information. If I could've made it less about my job and more about all of the other cool things I was doing, I never would have felt so ashamed and protective. And it would've made it a lot easier to go to that job if I didn't feel like it defined me. 

At the end of the day we all have to make money and sometimes we're going to make that money through a position that is impressive to other people and is incredibly passionate for us and fulfills all of our financial needs, but that might not happen... at least not right away. Sometimes you're not going to be in a capital C career, sometimes you're just going to be in a job and that's fine. Sometimes you are going to have a great career, but you're also going to have 4 jobs on the side and that's fine too! Whatever you're doing for work, you can do well and take pride in and remember that you're not above it. In summary, work hard, stay humble, and subscribe to The Financial Diet. Alright, bye guys! See you next week!