My Millennial Life Lessons from 2014

Happy second day of 2015!!

I figured I’d wait until day two before posting my first 2015 blog because if you’re anything like my roommates, all you wanted to do yesterday was lay on the floor and eat mac & cheese.

Now that we've all recovered from New Years, it’s time for a little reflection on the past year. For the record, I’m terrible about this looking back stuff. I love thinking about the future and I’m SO excited about 2015. But I also learned a lot in 2014. All too often I find myself rediscovering lessons I already learned, so it’s time to proclaim them on the internet so you’ll hold me accountable, alright? Thanks!

2014 was a year of firsts for me. First time working full-time all year. First time living in DC. First time in 15 cities in 10 states. But what did I learn along the way? Exposure to all of thee new experiences has led me to some pretty big revelations about what I want in my career and my life. My parents and older peers have been telling me most of these things for years, but experience is the best teacher, right? Some of my big revelations of 2014:

Find your people, because they aren’t just going to find you. I’m sorry Maryland / DMV, but I’ve actually spent most of my life believing that “my people” (mission driven millennials, of course) were in some far off, magical place - like Portland. I felt my lifestyle and priorities didn't fit in with East Coast culture. So I waited for the right opportunity to jet out of here and find my people. Then this year a very simple thought struck me. “Maybe my people are here and I just have to find them.” I’d been so convinced this wasn't my place that I stopped myself from even trying to find a community I identified with.

Unless you’re a gypsy or a hipster, your people aren't just going to pick you out of a crowd and proclaim, “That guy. He’s one of us.” I’m lucky enough to live in an urban area with all kinds of people, but it’s still easy to be invisible in the crowd. I've spent a lot of 2014 searching for other mission driven millennials in DC and have found so many amazing people motivated to change the world for the better. Now that I’ve found some of my people right here in DC, all that’s left to do is team up and make change happen! Watch out 2015.

When a new opportunity comes up, take a step back and evaluate. Like I mentioned earlier, 2014 was full of big revelations. But every time I had one of these revelations, I pretty much dropped everything else I was doing to pursue it. I threw out a lot of proverbially babies with the bath water. Each time I thought I'd found the answer to what I should be doing with my life. So I spent all my free time pursuing my newest “passion” and got totally burned out and out of balance.

I have a variety of interests and skill, and it turns out I work best and am the happiest when I use a bunch of them. Throwing all of my energy at something different every month deprived my other interests and didn't actually accomplish anything. So I’m going to work hard in 2015 to ease new things into my life and avoid cutting things I enjoy just because they don’t seem as important at the time. Slow and steady.

The culture is just as important as the work. I’ve played many roles in my first full year of work. The digital marketer. The event planner. The database analyst. The happy hour organizer. Some roles I liked more than others, but what makes work fulfilling and enjoyable is the people around me and culture where we work. Before I took my job, I mostly cared about the job description. I had a good relationship with one of my potential co-workers, but whether I’d like the rest of my co-workers and the culture didn’t really factor into my decision.

Fortunately I ended up working with a team of incredible high performers who have a variety of strengths and upbeat personalities. My passion for the work ebbs and flows, but my commitment to my team is rock solid and that’s what gets me through the rough parts. Where ever life takes me from here, I’m going to make team and culture more of a priority.

Make time for adventures. In 2014, I developed a love for adventures. I traveled to fifteen cities and went on several camping trips with friends and family. But, a couple months ago I had one of those "big revelations" that my traveling was too selfish and I wasn’t investing enough time and money into bettering the world.

Well you know what? That’s silly. Not only is travel an amazing break from the day-to-day where I gain new experience and perspective, but I also made new friends and strengthened the bonds of old ones along the way. You may not get a thrill from adventures like I do, but the point is, take time to do what you love. I likely won’t travel as much in 2015 (cost of living in DC, higher than Mom’s house), but I want to take one big 2015 adventure - Peru, anyone? - and to find mini-adventures where ever I can.

Those are some of the big lessons I took away from 2014. What millennial wisdom do you gain?

Happy 2015 everyone!