35 Before 35: #4, #5, #6

Here are a few more things I’ve accomplished from my 35 Before 35 list, mostly related to work and career.

#4 - Finish grad school
This was a big one. I always wanted to get a graduate degree and in December 2012, I finally wrapped it up and finished. After 4 1/2 years of stress, papers, projects, designing, researching, studying, and generally being a slave to school when I wasn't working, I received my MFA in merchandising with a thesis concentrated on blurring the lines between e-commerce and brick and mortar, and blending an industry known for its not-so-nice labor practices (fashion) with Fourth Sector business philosophies.

I also loved that I was able to take my electives in web design/usability and photography, which gave me a really well-rounded perspective and also helped me advance in my career.

#5 - Get a job I love in an industry I love
This one was a little tougher, but with a change in perspective, I hit this goal. Yes, I like my job and the industry is incredibly interesting and growing by leaps and bounds. Do I love it so much that I’d do it for free? No. But that’s okay because that job I like affords me the ability to do the things I love - run, help with animal rescues, design jewelry, sketch and paint, take pictures - as hobbies and volunteer work.

And often, I've been able to combine these hobbies, like taking pictures of adoptable dogs for rescues and shelters, and organizing personal fundraisers for shelters in conjunction with marathon training. I also had the fun opportunity to be a running coach back in Charlotte before we moved to Charleston and really enjoyed helping other runners reach their goals.

And my job flexes an entirely different set of brain muscles than my hobbies - my hobbies, with the exception of running, are mostly artistic and creative, but my job is very analytical and strategic, and while there's creativity involved, it's a different kind of creativity than what I do in my off hours. It's nice to have that mental dichotomy and it keeps both sides of my brain active.

#6 - Work for a company I believe in
This one also required an adjustment in perspective when I first crossed it off my list. At that time, I crossed it off in reference to volunteer work with animal rescues and shelters. Those are definitely companies and causes I believe in.

But now with the move to Charleston, I’ve found a company to actually work for (i.e., pay me) that I believe in. This company treats its employees well and is doing great things in the community here in Charleston, and it makes me happy to be a part of that.

35 Before 35 is a list of 35 goals I want to accomplish before I hit 35. Some of them are big things, some small, but all of them are things I really want to do, and what better time to do them than now?