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I’ve been working pretty consistently since I was 16, and I’ve always done work I’ve loved.  When I was in high school I really wanted to start earning my own money so I could buy my own mini skirts and high heels that my parents wouldn’t buy me, and even when I did get them, I still wasn’t allowed to wear.  My dad said I could only get a job if it was valuable work experience in the field I wanted to make my career some day (in other words, no flipping burgers).  It wasn’t that he didn’t want me to work, but he wanted me to put all my focus into my studies.  I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I liked being around people, so Public Relations was my first choice.  A family friend hired me at the local symphony to work in hospitality back stage for the talent, and I also learned about lighting and sound, and general professional communications.

Once I graduated high school, I started part-time as a remote representative for LHK, a market research company in Philadelphia, started college full-time, and became a volunteer at my local place of worship (about 15 hours per week).  After 4 years at LHK, I was hired as Marketing Director at Michael Greene & Company in Sacramento, and 2 years later I started my own marketing firm.

My point in telling you all that is this: At 16 I told my dad if he let me start working, I’d be making $100k by age 21, and I’d be a millionaire by 30.  So far, we’re not exactly on track.  21 came and went, and I wasn’t exactly close to hitting $100k.

Becoming a millionaire, as it turns out, is a lot harder than I had anticipated.  Naively, I thought hard work and a Type A personality were all I needed.  I began cultivating my negotiating skills as soon as I could speak, and I usually get what I want, professionally speaking.

In my small town I felt like a big fish in a small pond.  Fast-forward a few years to living in San Francisco: I’m a tiny minnow in a huge sea of intelligent, creative, Type A’s, all with relatively similar focuses.   Competition is ripe and ready for the picking.  Employers want the best, and they can get it.  Clients know what they want, and there are plenty of agencies that can probably give it faster and cheaper (not as high quality, but cheaper for sure).

Now that I’m at the wise, old age of 25 (I kid, I kid) I’m discovering that being a millionaire was never actually what I wanted.  I just wanted the things that I thought came with being a millionaire: the feeling of success, accomplishment, and independence…and also being able to afford those Louboutin’s I have my eye on.   What I realize now is that I already have those things; I just never took the time to stop and realize what I had created for myself.  I may not have the paycheck to match the millionaire attitude, but that doesn’t mean to don’t have those attributes I was looking to have.

Plus, I still have 5 years to meet my financial goal.  But now instead of focusing on the monetary goal, I’m focusing on continuing the professional life I’ve worked hard for.  If I make my financial goal, well then so be it. :)

image via someecards