My very first vision board was made on an old piece of cardboard. I used tattered Essence and Marie Claire magazines as I clipped out words like “Paris” “Gloria Steinem” and “the bravest truth-teller”. At 22 years old, I said “I want to earn six figures and be a home owner before I turn 30”. At the time, I was living at home after graduating college, dating an unmotivated guy who was more committed to playing video games than keeping his job, and I felt lost.
I was working at a retail giant as a customer service representative, making $8.10/hr on a part-time schedule. I interned at two law firms as I studied for the LSAT. I had only enough money to go to work, come home, and pay my phone bill. I was getting more and more upset with my situation as my Communication and Political Science degrees sat in a box in my childhood bedroom- which was only large enough for a twin bed. So I decided to do something about it.
Fast foward to now and I earn six figures, with my income increasing annually through 4 different streams. I live in a home I bought, I travel annually, I enjoy some luxuries. How did I do it?
- I was not happy with my low paying retail job, so I quit. Well…I moreso walked out and didn’t come back. My hours kept getting cut and a part of me died each time I stepped on the sales floor. I thought about what I was good at and figured “someone would pay me for this”. So I began tutoring. Word of mouth had me with 6 clients at any given time and I was making $30-40/hour. But I wanted something consistent, so I started applying for jobs in the field. I coached myself on the latest job search strategies and landed an $18/hour job working in the NYC public school system at an elementary school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
- I listened to my intuition and decided to go to grad school instead of law school. My sister had a connection at Harvard but I didn’t want to wait another year to apply, since they didn’t have rolling admissions. So, for a month during my 2 hour commute to Brooklyn for work, I studied for the GRE. Being a lawyer didn’t feel like a calling as much as working for the social good did. I got into quite a few grad programs and one law school. I chose grad school (less debt, better school, higher returns).
- I lived below my means. Big time. I wasn’t making much money while in grad school. In fact, the first year, I was making $1100/month as an Americorps service member. I lived in a crappy studio in a vermin infested apartment building. I was on food stamps. I didn’t have dental insurance but instead, a dental savings plan. I walked everywhere. I saved $50/month in an account I didn’t have card access to. There was no help from anyone, not even my ex. Which brings me to 4.
- I recognized that the relationship I was in was a liability. I was paying for everything and only making $40,000/year with the new job I’d gotten after my service year. I’d moved to a better apartment but he refused to help me on a consistent basis with rent, food, or bills. In fact, I was helping him with his own bills and child support. I’d accepted his proposal and was actually contacting wedding venues. Something snapped in me as I recalled the vision I had for my life. As I recalled the sacrifices my parents made and the values instilled in me. I could not go on this way. So I ended things. And I reclaimed my time. New vision. New outlook.
- Laser focus. I resumed tutoring to add to my savings account. I started my consulting business. With a Masters degree (with highest honors), the rate went up. I did things that made me happy like blog, exercise, and earn more credentials. I learned as much about my industry as possible. I began looking into real estate. I made friends and business connections. And I set my sights on my next move: Washington, D.C.
- Left the comfort of New Jersey and a relatively basic job for D.C. My first job? 15% bump. After a few months of hell (I was lobbying), I moved on to government contracting. Another bump. By this points, my savings were enough for a comfortable down payment on a home. I lived in a lovely apartment that was $1050/month so my expenses were far less than my earnings.
- I researched homebuying constantly. When I settled on a house, it wasn’t the “dream home” that was ready to move in. It didn’t have the pristine appliances and brand new floors. The basement wasn’t finished but I knew that I needed a home with an English-style basement. Why? Because I wanted my house to make money through homesharing services like Home Away or Airbnb. So I bought a house that was very affordable for the District and in a great location and paid a few thousand to finish the basement.
- I used my connections to get a job with a six-figure base salary. I made some calls to people from my time in Jersey and within 7 days, I had a job offer. I advocated for myself each step of the way. I knew my worth.
I hope my journey inspires you, guides you, and helps you realize that your goals are possible with careful planning, research, and trusting your gut. If you want specific coaching on navigating your career path, comment below and I’ll be in touch.