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“Girl, I had to quit that job. I was bored to tears!”

In this month’s series, Uncharted Territory, we’re talking about getting a vision for your life. However, are you feeling like you have to make a long list of resolutions, upending everything from the past?

Here’s a radical thought: Maybe it’s ok to keep your old life. At least some parts.

Natalie had changed direction so many times that “upending” was putting it mildly. She laughed as she remembered getting her first job out of law school. “I. Was. Terrible! I didn’t know how to draft, how to talk to clients, how to solve problems. But after spending thousands on law school tuition, I was determined to make it work.”

“I landed a job on the East Coast doing corporate work for a big insurance company, but I knew it wasn’t my dream job. So I started joining some professional organizations to see what else was out there. I liked intellectual property the best. It was a fast moving area, and the people working for online media companies seemed fun and really bright.”

“Out of the blue, an IP friend called about a job opening at his company. I jumped at the chance. When I got the offer a month later, I couldn’t move from Philadelphia to San Francisco fast enough. Ten years and three jobs later, here I am!”

write-the-vision

When you listen to her story, what words jump out to you? Although Natalie changed a lot following graduation, she maintained some important qualities along the way.

  • Determination. When she got out of law school, she was “determined to make it work.” Honing a persistent ability to follow-through has been critical to her success.
  • Fun, fast moving. Doing the same thing day after day was mind-numbing for Natalie. She discovered that she needed a job that matched her natural pace.
  • Curiosity. Natalie knew she wasn’t fully prepared for corporate law, but she tried it anyway. Then she began to experiment with different practice areas, finally landing on a completely different specialty, intellectual property. And she’s still curious, with a devotion to being a lifelong learner.

Let’s use Natalie’s experience and make it personal. What do you want to hang onto, no matter where you are or what you’re doing?

Do you know how to communicate well with others? Are you fantastic at bringing people together for a common goal? Are you skilled at resolving thorny problems, finding solutions that will benefit everyone?

Think about what makes your life rich and meaningful, and then reduce it to a couple of keywords, just like you’d type into a search engine. This year, you can come back to them over and over.

Here are a few prompts: Creative. Generous. Energetic. Authentic. Connected.

If you need a style icon, think of Queen Latifah. Her career has taken her from hip-hop to jazz standards to acting. But along the way, she has maintained a dynamic presence. When you see her, one of her earliest hits still comes to mind. “All hail the queen!”

Something is working for you. As you’re re-ordering your life for 2017, don’t cut too deep.