Young Professional Advice from Friends – Chris J. Gaddis

This is a  Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by Chris J. Gaddis from and the author of Athena’s Gift YPAF is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting a career and conquering your twenties.


I was contacted by Katie to write a guest post for this blog. As I was thinking about the opportunity and what to write about, I thought back to the whole reason I am now doing, what I am doing. I will spare you the long story and just give you what you need to know.

My wife and I graduated from Keuka College, a beautiful college on Keuka Lake. Graduation weekend is always held on Memorial Day and my family and my wife’s family decided to rent a house on the lake for the weekend. Ever since then every Memorial Day weekend we rented a house on the lake together.

In 2009 we again rented a house on the lake. Through a long series of events, that I feel were truly meant to be, our dog Athena ended up getting hit by a car and died that weekend. Looking back it seems as if my whole life was being pushed to this one moment in my life. The events and occurrences of my life up to that time seem to fit together like a puzzle; the different pieces coming together at that exact moment.

Needless to say it was a pretty sudden and unexpected death that affected my wife and me greatly. I could not shake the feeling it was “meant to be” and immediately tried to decipher why that was. What I learned, summed up in one sentence, is life is too short to do things you don’t want to do.

And this is what my blog is all about. I decided that I wanted to spend more time with my wife and kids. I wanted to work for myself and stop making other people rich from my efforts. I came up with a plan to do this and I have now implemented it.

This is not an easy thing to do. Athena died almost 5 years ago. This plan was supposed to be implemented within one year and I am just getting to it. I feel guilty I did not get it done sooner. Unfortunately, life is like that. We all have the best intentions, but ultimately life gets the best of us and we find ourselves 15 years later asking “How did that happen?” So we all need that guidance and a jumpstart.

In the end, happiness is different for everyone. It could mean any number of things. I am also a firm believer that happiness is a choice that we can make. Whether it is being happy with our self, our spouse, our job, or whatever else the case may be. To find true happiness, you just have to do and be what you want; no matter what that is or what people say. And it is never too late to do so.

After Athena’s death, and in my search to help it all make sense, I put together a personal action plan that followed these six steps and it helped me to take a snapshot of my life and analyze if that is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to change. So I want to leave you with a 6 step process to getting what you want out of life.

  1. Create a Mission statement – Mine was simply “To translate what gives me joy, fulfillment, and makes me genuinely happy, into money and a career that will allow me to work for myself and spend more time with my family.” This meant starting my own business as a Coach to help individuals and small business owners to get what they wanted out of their life and business. Formulating this statement allows us to create a short sentence that summarizes exactly what we want from life and this will help to keep it in the forefront of our minds. So anything we do, any decision we make, will hopefully be made with our mission in mind.
  2. Make a list of your priorities –This list will make your decisions easier as you will know what is important to you. Anytime there is a conflict consult this list and make the decision based on your priorities. Here is an example of my list.
    1. Family
    2. Church
    3. Health
    4. Work / Money
    5. Service to Others
    6. Hobbies / Recreational Time
  3. Take an Inventory – List every single thing in your life. The people, organizations, career, hobbies, and anything else we spend time on in our lives. Write a short summary of each thing. Explain what it means to us, what we get from it, and if we are neglecting other areas of our lives because of it.
  4. Make Decisions – Take this list and make a decision on every aspect of your life. Decide whether time you spend on certain activities could be spent helping you achieve other goals in areas of your life. Decide if you will continue some activities, change others, or start a new one. Time is the most precious commodity we have; do not waste it.
  5. Develop a Plan – The most important step. Develop a game plan of what has to take place to reach your dreams and make it happen. Also tackle you goals for your life. Break it down into small time frames a week, a month, a year, and then longer 5, 10, 20, 30 years out. These will constantly change so check them frequently.
  6. Schedule it, Tell Everyone, Follow Through, and let nothing stand in your way – By scheduling your goals and your action items it allows you to set definite deadlines. That gives you a better chance of sticking to it. If you tell everyone what you are doing you are now creating ownership of your goals. And of course nothing can stand in your way if you let it. If you find yourself making excuses you are giving up too easily.

I know it may seem crazy that some dog changed my life, but it was the lessons I learned from Athena that changed my life. We all learn differently. Hopefully, after you read this and do these steps it will be enough for you to do it. Apparently I needed more to have it stick with me; don’t let that happen to you.

If you liked what you read here please feel free to visit my website at and subscribe to my blog. You will also be able to purchase the book I published on my life with and after Athena entitled “Athena’s Gift.”

If you are having trouble starting your personal action plan contact me and I will send you a copy of mine to reference. Best of Luck!


 Chris married his high school sweetheart, Christy. They now have two children and reside in Rock Hill, SC. He currently owns and operates a Financial Services and Coaching company. He also wrote and published “Athena’s Gift.” You can learn more about Chris at


Young Professional Advice from Friends – Jimmy Vo

This is a  Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by Jimmy Vo, a systems analyst nearing the end of his twentiesYPAF is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting a career and conquering your twenties.


During my undergraduate “college career” I took the slow and steady approach in getting my bachelor’s degree. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I transferred twice which attributed to my prolonged college career. After nearly 5 and half years, I was able to put college behind me at nearly age 24. Upon graduation, I was lucky enough to land a full-time job as a systems analyst but I realized I could be further in my career in my mid-twenties. So what would I have done differently?

Part-Time Student

When I moved back home, my second college was a community college. I decided I wanted to live with my friends to start my 20s. Given that I had to pay rent I had to work two-part jobs selling jeans and baking bagels. I didn’t have time to commit to taking a full course load. Stupid. It was quite a setback.

I should have stayed home with Mom (she enjoyed having me around), went to school full-time and saved money.

Just Showing Up

I rarely missed a lecture, however that’s all I did during my undergraduate studies. I woke up, went to class, kept to myself, did my assignments and worked on exams. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an introvert or I thought I was too cool.

I did not leverage college activities, student groups, and more importantly I network with my classmates. I truly believe one of the biggest value propositions of college is meeting like-minded individuals. You never know, who you could help or who could help you land your next job.

Part-Time Employee

I’ve worked since I was 16 and don’t have many gaps in my employment history. Most of my part-time employment was in related to food or retail. Being able to fold jeans, make breakfast sandwiches, or counting MacBook Pros did not translate experience wise in a career in Information Technology (Note: I did learn a few skills like customer service, teamwork and leadership which I can’t discount). Perhaps I would have had more job offers and a higher starting salary if I had 4 years of part-time IT experience as a new college graduate.

I didn’t seek enough opportunities that could build up my technical experience. I failed to take on IT internships when I had the chance because I would have made more money working a retail job.

My mindset and vision was very short-sighted. I didn’t see the big picture because I coasted through college at a slow pace. This put me a year and a half behind of time I could have been working full-time. I also just went to class and left, not taking advantage of all the other value college brought to the table. Lastly, I did not seek opportunities that built out my resume and IT experience.

After graduating in 2010, I created a plan and stuck with it since, better late than never. I took opportunities to improve myself by joining Toastmasters, professionally networking with social media, getting a master’s degree, working on projects outside of work and working hard every day. I’d have to say I’m really enjoying my late twenties as I get to work hard, seek new challenges but most importantly have a some fun along the way. I challenge you to not wait until you graduate to have a plan, like I did.


Jimmy Vo, a systems analyst is a twenty something geek who loves sharing his experiences. In his spare time you can find him tweeting (@JimmyVo), working on his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or working on various projects.

Young Professional Advice from Friends – Rebecca Fraser-Thull

This is a  Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by Rebecca Fraser-Thull at Working SelfYPAF is a is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting a career and conquering your twenties.


Our Happiest Moments Appear In the Bull’s Eye of Our Worst Times

            My life between 22 and 25 was downright miserable. I was in a doctoral program I’d entered solely to avoid getting a job; my new husband couldn’t land the teaching job for which he’d long trained and instead spent eternal days scrubbing rental cars in a suit and tie; and our financially-deprived notion of “eating out” was the local SUBWAY followed by a stop at the gas station for ice pops.

After three years of agony, I finally decided to ditch the PhD program that had been the wrong move from the start and move to my dream state of Maine. Once we left Ithaca, though, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the great times we had. And I still can’t:  We were newlyweds, reveling in the splendor of our wedding photos and taking weekend trips (albeit to friends’ couches) at the drop of a hat. We were the proud parents of our first dog/pseudo-baby, snapping pics of him at every opportunity and taking him on long walks through a new park every weekend. And I was a graduate student who, despite hating every pressure-filled minute of seminars and homework, met people whose views of the world changed my own and who helped me discover confidence in my own voice in a way I couldn’t have otherwise.

Part of this “weren’t the hard times actually good” thing is a trick of the mind – psychologists tell us we rosy up the past to maintain our sanity – but part of it is just life, which comes in a hodgepodge of excellent and atrocious, hilarious and gut-wrenching, mundane and sublime. The first time we feel the full force of this wicked brew is in our 20s, and it’s so disorienting that we don’t know which pieces to cling onto, which to worry about in our minds, which to plaster across the Internet.

My advice? Keep making music, even if your instrument is bent, rusted and out of tune.  When the days are slogging by and the nights are filled with trills of panic, snatch a moment to sit in a park and look at the lush beauty of nature or to read a snippet of a novel that contains words that whisk you away. When work is unbearable and the tunnel ahead looks darker still, steal a day to run to the beach or into the mountains, or to volunteer to care for homeless pets or homeless vets or whatever your passion might be. When life feels like a lot of crud without much cream, make the fancy dish you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest or schedule the weekend road trip you’ve long been plotting.

Believe me, you’ll be glad that you kept making beautiful music with your dilapidated twentysomething instrument. Because before long, the high notes are the only things you’ll carry with you.


Rebecca with her first dog – and “baby” – Rundle, now passed, back when they were making happy moments amongst the misery of a poorly-chosen graduate program.

Rebecca Fraser-Thill runs the website and blog Working Self, which explores the intersection of work and identity with a focus on twentysomethings. She has been teaching psychology at Bates College since 2003 and is also a life and career coach, freelance writer, and keynote speaker. Connect with her on Twitter @WorkingSelf.

Young Professional Advice from Friends: The Sky is the Limit – Leigh E

This is a  Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by Leigh at SimpLeigh OrganizedYPAF is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting a career and conquering your twenties.


Skys the limit

I have had the special and unique privilege of being asked by Katie at to offer up a guest post giving advice to those in their 20’s.Being that I am approaching my mid 40’s, I had to dig deep to think about life in my 20’s. The advice portion came a little easier due to the fact that I have an 18 year-old stepson. I just envisioned myself sitting down and giving him some life lessons.

So without further ado, here are 10 tips I would offer to my son and hopefully they will be helpful to a few of you “young’uns” out there also. 🙂

1) When thinking about your future goals, begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself “How do I see my life in my 40’s and 50’s?” Every decision you make should be pointing you towards that vision.
2) Consider a volunteer or intern position in your desired field to determine if it is a right fit for you. If not, try something new. Love what you do!

3) Once you settle on your career path, find a mentor. Observe those in your field and select someone you admire and respect. This person should be in a position you aspire to be in. Also, don’t forget to reach back and help those that are trying to come up behind you. Be aware of opportunities to pay it forward.
4) Remember that life is short- Go for your goals. Like Nike says: “Just Do It”. Have no regrets and recognize that you will make mistakes…it’s a part of life.5) Learn from your mistakes. Don’t let mistakes or the fear of making mistakes keep you from moving towards your goals. Think about what went wrong and how you can avoid that misstep in the future.6) Be flexible and allow yourself to go wherever opportunities present themselves.

7) Start saving for your retirement as soon as you begin working. Trust me, you’ll thank me later! 🙂

8) Live within your means. Debt will hold you back from being able to attain your dreams.

9) Create balance between faith, family, friends, work and self. Try not to let any area consume too much of your time. Your life will be much richer if you are able to achieve some sort of balance.

10) Aim for the sky! If you aim high you’ll always be closer to your goal even if you fall short. Remember: The Sky is the Limit!

Thanks again, Katie for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to offer advice to your readers. Hopefully, these tips will be helpful to them in their life journey.


Hello! My name is Leigh and I am a Stay-At-Home wife and mom with two daughters and a stepson. One of my passions is to organize and decorate homes using everyday items that can be found around the house. I also love sharing this information with anyone who will listen. So if you’re looking for ways to organize your home, your money and your life, stop by…maybe I can help!

Young Professional Advice from Friends – Cindy

This is a  Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by Cindy at Twenty-Something ConditionYPAF is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting a career and conquering your twenties.


When I was a kid, I think I was under the impression that there were only three possible career paths: Doctor, Lawyer, and Teacher. I chose Teacher. Since that moment, I’ve been one of those people with a plan. You know, the usual: graduate high school, go to college, get a degree in my subject area, and pursue a Master’s in Teaching. But one thing I’ve learned in my twenties so far is that even those annoying people who have their whole life planned out sometimes get thrown for a loop.

I was sticking to plan fairly well until I decided to uproot everything after college, get married (to a wonderful guy, I might add) and move with him to Saudi Arabia so he could take a job there. All of a sudden my graduate school applications were useless, and my plan seemed somewhat derailed. How would I become a teacher now, when I had no teaching credentials and no experience? I resigned myself to being patient and enjoying the adventures that would come with living abroad. My career could wait.

Well, fast-forward a year and I have just finished my first year of teaching, in the international school where I was lucky enough to get hired despite my lack of experience. This school hired me because they were desperate, but in the process they made my dream come true and offered me the learning experience of a lifetime. Essentially, the life change that I thought would hold me back from starting my career actually jump-started it. I had to endure some challenges of course, including lack of technology, a long morning commute, and ridiculously low pay. But these days I think that’s what twenty-somethings need to be willing to do in order to really shake things up and get their careers moving.

When I decided to become a teacher many, many years ago, I made a plan. But life got in the way of that plan a bit, requiring me to take a step of faith and work at a less-than-ideal school for practically nothing. In your field, that might look like taking an unpaid internship, moving to a new city, or taking that job you know you won’t like forever, but that will be a step towards getting you where you want to be.

Things don’t always go according to plan, so change the plan. Be willing to make sacrifices. But just make sure you keep moving forward. The results might surprise you!


cinderslut tileCindy is a twenty-something English teacher currently living in Saudi Arabia, where she enjoys drinking coffee, questioning the theocratic government, and coping with whatever crazy adventures life throws at her. She keeps in touch with her three best friends, the Naughty Princesses, via their blog The Twenty-Something Condition.

Young Professional Advice from Friends – V

This is a  Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by V from Borderline AdultsYPAF is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting off and being twenty. This week V has taken a new approach to YPAF by submitting a poem.
You would think it would be a Haiku
The way it flows is fragmented.
Never sure if you will ever understand the ending
The way it constantly changes.
Everyone’s compass is pointed in a different direction
When at one time they were all pointed north together.
But isn’t it fun to watch the dial spin
As you dance around the coordinates?
Never will there be a time more entertaining than this
I intend on looking back at the memories with a sigh.
But for now, I will search for my purpose
While I dance around the coordinates
V is a 20-something living in Kansas City. She’s a contributor to Borderline Adults where seven 20-somethings share their adventures and inner thoughts of young professionals just trying to figure it all out. For the past year, V has been preparing and anxiously waiting for her next journey as a Borderline Adult entering  graduate school.

Young Professional Advice from Friends – Emma Warren

This is a  Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by Emma Warren at Experienced RequiredYPAF is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting off and being twenty.


As a 20somthing, you are constantly in a state of change. This decade of life is a giant transition period. However, it doesn’t always flow nicely from college to career like we hope. It makes the educational and professional journey of your 20’s full of the unknown. That’s the scariest thing to me.
In college, it’s easy to daydream about what you are going to do when you graduate: Am I going to go to grad school right away, travel, or find an awesome job? The possibility of none of those things happening doesn’t become a reality until you are turning in your graduation application and everyone is asking what you’ve done to prepare for the “real world.” In my mind, going to college and getting some part-time work experience was preparing for the “real world.” There wasn’t much else that I could do at that point.
During my last semester of college, I realized that, although I had done a lot, I did not have the experience needed to get the type of job I wanted. So, I started applying for everything. To any job that I felt like I had a chance at getting, I submitted an application. After many trials and errors, I finally landed a job as an intern at a marketing company. This interview was the catalyst I needed to begin my career.
The internship was great because it created a smooth transition from student to professional. In the US, we go to school for about 18 years straight, graduate, and then are expected to function like a normal adult. There isn’t usually a buffer period. The internship was my buffer. I was able to gain experience, while attending seminars and learning from the professionals around me.
Being a 20 something is so much fun, but incredibly stressful! There are so many changes, good and bad. In the span of one month I graduated from college, got engaged, and was hired for an internship. During that time I also struggled with finding a position, didn’t get to move where I wanted (but I will!), and constantly questioned my professional worth.
The biggest lesson I learned through this whole “growing up” process is that you should never give up on your dreams. However, it helps to reevaluate them. Make sure your goal timeline is feasible, and that you look at all factors in getting there (finances (ugh), experience, location, relationships, health, etc.) because everything in your life effects everything else.


EmmaAbout the Author:
My name is Emma Warren!
I graduated in May of 2012 with my BA from the University of North Texas, where I specialized in Anthropology, Marketing, and Italian. I have worked as a marketing intern, and now work as a full-time Internal Operations Coordinator at a third-party marketing firm.

About my blog, Experience Required:
In a world where professional experience is required in order to gain experience, many doors are closed to recent graduates. My blog is my recollection of various experiences since I entered the work force: experiences with family, love, responsibility, and the infamous work force.