Need life advice? Seek a mentor.

“Your only job is to find a job that makes you happy to get out of bed in the morning.”

This is probably the best advice I’ve received as an upcoming college graduate. Even better, it came from the woman who’s inspired me to pursue a career in writing and has taught me most of what I know about writing.

She told me other valuable things, too.

She said to focus on my wedding and upcoming move rather than worry over not yet having job offers. She encouraged me to think about my passions and vigilantly pursue them, especially my passion for writing because she believes it’s a talent I shouldn’t waste.

I’ve had others speak similar words of encouragement to me as well, but it took a mentor, someone I have immense respect and admiration for, to finally listen.

So for anyone who’s in need of advice or direction in life, I encourage you to seek out your mentors.

Friends and family can be great sources of support, but, because they never want to see you fail, they don’t always encourage you to take risks and pursue your truest dreams. They often encourage you to choose the safer route.

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When I’ve mentioned wanting to write a non-fiction book — perhaps dropping out of my life to travel for a few months in order to get material for the book — I’ve had skeptical responses from loved ones. How will I afford that? What if the book doesn’t sell? Shouldn’t I just get a “regular job” to start out?

Well, what if every other author, singer, actor and artist had the same thoughts? Our world would be an empty, blank place.

So if you can find someone who’s doing what you want to be doing, who’s on a path you would like to one day be on, seek out their advice.

I’ve had it easy because this woman is my professor. However, there are ways to seek out a mentor without such easy access.

  • Who do you admire in the field you’re looking to enter? Big names or small names, reach out to them. Everyone loves talking about themselves, and it’s quite flattering to find out that some random person in the world admires you.
  • Use social media. What companies or organizations intrigue you? Who works for them or runs them? Reach out to those individuals on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Read interviews done with your idols. Read books or articles they’ve written. If you truly cannot gain firsthand access to the people you admire, you can at least seek out their generalized words of wisdom. Even if you just read their memoirs or autobiographies (chances are good that they’ve been written), you’re likely to find advice.

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I recently had the chance to interview a man who is my idol when it comes to all things running: Scott Jurek. My internship supervisors heard me raving about him, so they had me reach out to conduct an interview for the Vegetarian Journal (the magazine I currently write for).

A quick Google search got me Jurek’s media contact. When she spoke with Jurek about the idea of an interview, he was more than happy to do it. While the article had a specific focus to fit the tone of the magazine, I got to sneak in a few advisory questions.

His advice for anyone, runner or not: “It’s good to be challenged and put yourself in a less comfortable position.”

As I look to write and pursue other career ideas I have floating around in my head, I will definitely be challenged. Challenged to believe in myself. Challenged to ignore negative comments. Challenged to work hard when outcomes aren’t as planned. I’ll also be mighty uncomfortable putting my dreams above what could be more practical, prudent options.

There’s also the chance that I will choose the practical, prudent option first, but because of the advice I’ve received from my mentors, that choice will be based on my personal desires, not fear. It will be because that practical, prudent option allows me to wake up happy to get out of bed in the morning and allows me to still pursue my passions.

Whatever I decide, the advice I’ve received from my mentors has given me better direction and the confidence I need to make the right choice.

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I hope that you get where you want to be, and if you’re not sure where that is yet, I hope you know of some people who can help guide you there.

And remember: Once you’ve caught your dreams, help others catch theirs. Pass it on …





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