Four months ago, I made a leap of faith decision and took a gap semester. I had no clue how many things would change for me in such a short period of time, but this time has produced the most challenging and fulfilling moments of my life. Even though only a few steps were illuminated for me in the path ahead, I trusted that everything would work out and the universe would put me exactly where I needed to be.
I didn’t always have this strong belief. While in my college classes, I constantly felt I wasn’t the place I needed to be. It felt like being on a conveyer belt of life, a life set for me by society. Go to a good college, get a degree, get a safe, sturdy job, and you will live a happy life. Many people who choose this path end up waking up 42 years old, going to work, and doing the same thing that they have been doing for the last 20 years. And they aren’t proud of what they have done. They feel deep down, if they would have made different choices for themselves earlier on, they would have led a more fulfilling life.
Instead, you can lead a successful life as you define it, not as society, your parents, your uncle, or anyone else defines success. A Gallup survey found that 79% of employees feel disengaged, and 67% of employees feel like they are not thriving in their overall well-being.
One day while drowning in my self-imposed life, I received a very big push from a dear mentor, Rob Israel, to take a step back, and reflect on what I truly value. What person I wanted to become. And so I reflected and took time and something magical happened. I began to see a different world. A world where I didn’t need to follow the societally established path. That’s when I came across "The Alchemist". This book chronicles a shepherd, Santiago, as he pursues his personal legend. Santiago has to either stay in the comfortable life of being a shepherd or give up his flock of sheep to pursue the unknown.
Upon reflection, I realized that I faced a similar decision to follow the safe path illuminated in front of me by attending college or choosing the unknown by taking a gap semester. Similar to Santiago, I put my trust in the unknown, knowing that, as stated in the book,
"To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
Time and time again, as my life began to morph and change in unexpected ways, I found hundreds of clear ties between Sanitago's adventure and mine, and it helps give me the strength to keep going.
My initial plan was to work exclusively on my lawn care business (link to article), JMK Lawn Service (link to website). My goal was to build a strong team and systems within the business so that it would be able to run without me so that I could return to college, but I knew that I wanted to leave myself open to other opportunities. Then one opportunity found me in an unexpected way.
When visiting my mom earlier this year, I struck up a conversation with a neighbor. I mentioned how much I loved personal finance and wanted to find a way to make financial literacy accessible at scale, past my personal finance website and blog: UnderstandFinancialFreedom.com.
During our interaction, she casually mentioned that she had a friend who recently left Google to start a personal finance tech company and that she’d be happy to introduce me. One week later, I received an email connecting me with Megan, the Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Walkthrough. We quickly arrange a call, and I fell in love with Walkthrough’s mission and strategy.
After our call, I became set on becoming a part of Walkthrough, and its goal of making personal financial advice, literacy, and education accessible for those who need it most. Turns out they saw the fire and passion within me and invited me to join the team!
I am running up on five months at Walkthrough, and my passion has not diminished in the slightest. I truly believe that the universe conspired for Walkthrough and those within the company to find me at the perfect time.
Unlock A Superpower
Additionally, I’m not sure I would have been ready to take on this experience if I hadn’t worked at the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship as an ambassador, taken the New Venture Creation class with Brad Werner, or competed in New Venture Challenge.
Being a University of Colorado (CU) student is almost like a superpower. CU students have direct access to some of the best minds in the entrepreneurship world. You can connect with these great minds through the alumni network and events put on by the Deming Center, Silicon Flatirons, Leeds Venture Club, Techstars, and hundreds more!
The people in the entrepreneurship ecosystem at the CU are fueled by helping students succeed. They want you to reach out, they want you to ask questions, and they would love to see your smiling faces at events!
This is a superpower that almost no one uses but is so extremely powerful when used correctly. If you are a CU student, use your superpower. Go on LinkedIn, reach out to people, make a network spreadsheet to keep track of conversations and contact information, and go out there a build your network.
Sometimes it can feel really intimidating to network or start a business, but it’s important to just get started. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Action is the antidote to fear” and I’ve found that to be so true.
Have a crazy idea? Just get started! See a problem? Maybe have a solution? Just get started! Feel anxious about stepping out of your comfort zone? Just get started!
Need help? Go to the Deming Center. Join clubs. Join communities. Reach out to people on Linkedin. Read books. Reach out to me! Stretch yourself, because if you don’t, the life that you could have lived, won’t be.