Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky, for all pretenses, had built a dream lifestyle. Yet four years ago, he found it hard to wake up, inch his way to work and was having what he felt like was a quarter life crisis and a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) for how everyone else around him was living their lives.

Eventually, he had had enough. Smiley quit what was undoubtedly a good, well paying job to pursue what he believed to be meaningful work. In his TEDx talk, you can hear his personal first hand experience of what tipped him over the edge:

He eventually attended StartingBloc, a social entrepreneurship fellowship. By utilizing the StartingBloc support system, close friends and mentors, he redefined this “crisis” into a quarter-life breakthrough.

Smiley wrote the book he had been saying he would write, moved to San Francisco and is now pursuing a career as an author, speaker and what many would say is a millennial advocate.

Along the way, Smiley captured practical advice, interviewed people he admired and began helping others find work that they care deeply about. Smiley shares 10 simple steps for GenDIYer’s to have their own quarter-life breakthrough and find meaningful work:

  1. Treat your career like a learning experiment: every opportunity is a chance to discover what works and what doesn’t work for you
  2. Move beyond FOMO: stop comparing yourself to your friends on Facebook
  3. Embrace fear: fear should be a green light, not a red light
  4. Align your gifts with the impact you want to have
  5. Only go to grad school if you really want to go (not because your parents want you to go)
  6. Go outside your comfort zone
  7. Plan your breakthrough
  8. Build your support system
  9. Re-define success on your own terms
  10. Share your story so others can get inspired too

eduInnovation and Getting Smart have partnered with The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation to produce a thought leadership campaign called Generation Do-It-Yourself (GenDIY)–how young people are hacking a pathway to a career they love–on The Huffington Post and GettingSmart.com. This campaign about reimagining secondary and postsecondary education and career skills will explore the new generation building a global economy and experiences that are impact driven and entrepreneurial. For more on GenDIY:

Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky is the author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, a guide for millennials. Follow him on Twitter: @whatsupsmiley.

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