life vision and purpose worksheet

I knew I wasn’t alone but I felt alone. Lonely.

In college I changed my major 11 times. For real. I had no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. I was a very involved student leader on campus: admissions, orientation, RA, etc. When I learned that you could do this “for real” as a full time job, I was intrigued. I had found my calling.

I went on to graduate school for my master’s in student affairs because that seemed like the logical next step. I had an amazing and transformational experience in graduate school and finished under the assumption that the next step was my dream job.

Not so much.

Re-enter those feelings of feeling alone. Lonely.

life vision and purpose worksheet

Backtrack. While I was in graduate school I attended a conference, where I met my husband. We got married shortly after I graduated with my master’s degree which meant that my job search was regionally bound to the city he was currently living/working in. A small city in the middle of Illinois. That made things complicated when it came to looking for my dream job.

I accepted a position at a branch campus who decided to shut it’s doors and cease recruiting traditional undergraduate students less than 90 days after I started. I was working in admissions. I packed up my office and was back to job searching. Cover letters made me cry.

Meanwhile, my entire cohort from my graduate program was working in their “dream jobs” and their “dream campuses”. Lonely. Isolated.

dream job

I was fortunate to find another job relatively quickly, also in admissions. I was at another smaller, private institution. I was there for 2 years, learning a lot about myself and what I was looking for in a workplace. It wasn’t my dream job.

We moved halfway across the country this past summer and I felt more lost than I did when I was in college changing my major over and over again. My career path was a mess. I had boxed myself in by taking too many admissions jobs. Maybe this field isn’t for me. Maybe I’m not cut out for this. Maybe I should go back to school. Maybe I should try something totally new.

My husband helped me reflect on my passions and asked me questions about what I really wanted. I spent entire days avoiding job searching because it’s awfully hard to job search when you don’t really know what you’re looking for.

I took a job at a fitness center. It turned out to be a place full of un-kept promises and business practices that ethically, made my skin crawl. I couldn’t stomach the patriarchy, the dishonesty, the shaming, and the utter shadiness. I didn’t make it through my first day.

Anyone else been there? Those 5 hours taught me that I valued myself more than that. I deserved better.

I took another job once again in college admissions recruiting. The admissions world seemed to be all I knew, all that would have me. I fed myself lies day after day about how “it wasn’t that bad” and how “I could make it work”. I wanted to love it so bad. I wanted it to be my dream job.

What even is a dream job? I think that’s something we all have to answer for ourselves. I think the definition is unique to each and every one of us. I needed to be challenged. I needed to use my strengths.

I lasted 3 months in that final admissions gig. When my dream job called, I answered and I didn’t look back. I am now working at a large state institution which is where my heart has always been. I look forward to work each morning, even on the hard days. Sometimes, I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. Other times, I’m full of confidence. The difference here compared to other positions I’ve held post-graduate school? I’m challenged. I’m inspired. I have the freedom to be creative. I’m motivated. I’m happy.

It’s often a long, bumpy road to your dream job. Know you’re not alone.

Do you have a “NOT OK” moment you want to share? We would love to hear it

life vision and purpose worksheet




Amanda Stewart

Amanda Stewart

Mandi Stewart is the Communications and Media Coordinator for the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Fresno State in Fresno, California. She is a College Student Personnel, Western Illinois University ’14 alum as well as an Iowa State Cyclones ’12 alum. She loves running, yoga, early mornings, coffee, and snail mail. Connect with her on Twitter & Instagram @mandijstewart
Amanda Stewart

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