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How Ron Swanson Gave Me the Best Career Advice, Ever

   Posted On: November 27, 2017  |    Posted In: Career  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

Sponsored post: This post is sponsored by the Forte Foundation

It finally happened. I’d overextended myself in my career and subsequently felt as if my entire life were crumbling down around me. Friendships were suffering because I couldn’t spend quality time with anyone. My partner Peach (who lived with me) barely got more than a 30-minute window of time each day. And I was rapidly gaining weight from failing to exercise and feeling too worn out to do anything other than order comfort-food take out.

When I say that I overextended, it looked a little something like this:

  • Working a full-time job
  • Writing a book for a major publisher
  • Continuing to run this blog
  • Freelancing to bring in additional income

It felt as if I was actually doing four full-time jobs. I went to sleep around 3 am each night to wake up at 8 am, then I’d head to work and repeat the cycle. I walked around in a sleep-deprived state, unable to offer my best to anyone or anything.

Then, one night while falling asleep to the TV, per my usual routine, a sage piece of wisdom floated into my ear:

“Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” – Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation

It seems silly, I know, but that line jolted me awake. It felt as though Ron Swanson himself were providing me with some divine intervention. Granted, he was offering the advice to Leslie Knope as she attempted to run a campaign for city council and do her full-time job in tandemnot unlike my current situation (minus all the government work).

The next morning I changed the background on my laptop to a gag motivational poster with Ron Swanson’s line. Obviously, that didn’t magically change my life. But then I began the more difficult task of self-reflection and comparing my current jobs to where I wanted to be in the next year, five years, 10 years. I couldn’t “whole-ass” four things and I needed to focus on the projects and jobs that would actually serve my long-term goals the best.

My full-time job was in the same sphere as my personal projects. I wrote content and handled the blog for a fintech startup. Writing under my own name for both Broke Millennial and the startup made things a little confusing in the press as well. I wanted to be known as “Broke Millennial,” which meant it was time for me to move on from working full-time for an employer and take the leap to self-employment.

Self-employment would give me the flexibility to focus on my book launch as well as continue to build the Broke Millennial brand. The longer I waited, the easier it would be for me to continue making excuses as to why now wasn’t the right time. I wanted to take the risk and try building a brand and business for myself now, when I didn’t have student loans, or a mortgage, or kids. I just needed to take care of myself and Mosby (my dog). Self-employment would give me the flexibility to focus on my book launch as well as continue to build the Broke Millennial brand. I’d get to spent more time with Peach and the people I love. Most importantly, it would allowed me to look back without regret—I could be proud of taking the leap.

With Ron Swanson’s voice ringing in my ear, I walked into my office and gave notice in August of 2016. I stayed full-time in the office for two more weeks and then worked part-time remotely while the company found my replacement. Since November of 2016, I’ve been on my own and it was the best decision I could’ve made.

The book launch could not have been better (a full feature in Cosmopolitan Magazine, interviews on scores of podcasts, TV interviews, Facebook Live events with MONEY and Reuters, and enough pre-orders to have my publisher do another printing of books before it even hit shelves). I’ve been able to replace my old income with self-employment opportunities (primarily freelance writing and speaking at colleges and conferences). Most importantly, I’m happy, with no regrets. Some days and weeks are still exhausting, stressful and feel as if I’ve overextended myself, but I’m in charge of the design of my own life now.

It feels pretty great to be “whole ass-ing one thing.”

What’s your favorite career advice? 

Share your best career advice with me (@BrokeMillennial) and others using the hashtag #ConquerYourCareer. The Forté Foundation helps women advance in their careers. Check out the community in order to find opportunities to network with powerful women and learn how to advance in your career. 

Image from BuzzFeed article.

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6 responses to “How Ron Swanson Gave Me the Best Career Advice, Ever

  1. Nice blog post! There isn’t much competition between us (20-30 yo), because we’re all poor and most of us have shitty jobs 😛 . We are already glad that we can get a decent paying job that allows us to pays our fixed costs. Here in Europe we don’t even have money to spend on a new car, I’m lucky I can drive with my 15 yo car, becuase the gazoline here costs like 7$ a gallon….

    So I do really admire it if someone has the guts to start his own business and is able to put some money aside, so they can allow themselves to invest all their time in their new start-up whatever it is. I sometimes wish I had a creative idea where i would love to invest all my time in and take the gamble.

    This blog post is therefore another inspiring one.

  2. First, CONGRATS on taking the leap into self-employment, and it seems like you are doing so well. I feel like all of us have had that “breakthrough” moment, and I find it funny that yours came from Ron Swanson lol. That is some sound advice though.

  3. It’s always great to read a story where someone was not afraid to JUMP. I recently heard Steve Harvey off air on Family Feud talking to the audience, and he said that if you want to be successful in life “You will eventually have to JUMP.” He went on saying that the most successful people in the world had to make that initial leap into the unknown, so that eventually their parachute could release and they could reach their full potential.

    It sounds like you made the leap and it has been a success! Congratulations and I wish you nothing but contiuned success.

  4. My best career advice I was ever given was to finish college. I am finally in my last semester of college and it feels great. College might not always change things over night but it can give me an added advantage.

    Congratulations on taking that leap of faith in yourself and becoming successfully self-employed.

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