Minimalism: Beginning a Career with Intention

With graduation and a changing schedule, I have vowed to watch more TV and movies. I don’t usually like sitting, but I know I need more rest, and I love when a good plot gets me engaged and thinking. Per friends’ recommendations, I decided to watch Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things.


I am the quintessential child of materialism, but I know that I have begun to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, mainly from traveling. I seldom wear makeup or face/hair/any creams. I wear the same clothes almost every two weeks. But, I know that I am about to make more money, and I question how my desires will change with the beginning of my career.

I have the tendency to surround myself with older people. Maybe it’s because I’m the youngest of eight and most of my siblings are 10-20 years older, or maybe that my mom is right and that I’m sOoOo mature for my age. Regardless, many of my friends are older than me. I see a lot of them experiencing similar career changes.

After working for five to ten years in the corporate world, they quit their “day jobs” to pursue their passions — fitness training, writing, entrepreneurial consulting, etc. They all seem so much more fulfilled with these new professions, and I love seeing them as a role model for living with intention. Again, as the youngest of eight, I have the tendency to learn from my elders — do I have to wait 5-10 years until I burnout to pursue my passions?

Granted, I have $75,000 in student loans and $30,000 in medical bills to pay off. I certainly have motivation and reason to climb the corporate ladder. But, why can’t I be successful, live a meaningful life, and pursue my passions, all at once?

I have about eight potential careers I want to pursue in my lifetime. Past the next five years, I have no idea in what order these careers will occur. My goal is to pay off all that debt in five years or less, and from there, I’ll have the rest of my life to pursue my goals without worries. I’m no longer worried about paying off my debt, but I am worried about living a life I’m not happy with.

I have always been very goal-oriented, so I do enjoy being busy. I even enjoy my free-time being active, so if anything, I fear becoming bored. I’ve noticed that when I do become bored, I become tempted to spend money. On clothes, on items, on anything that will give me a quick rush of satisfaction. Unfortunately, these quick rushes are completely temporary.

My childhood house is probably near 5000 sq. ft., with 3 garages totalling near that. We had a massive house full of stuff, but the only time our family (only 2-3 kids in the house usually) really spent together was shopping trips or vacations. Inside the house, everyone stayed in their rooms and did their own things. Granted, we all are very much introverted, but looking back, it’s kind of sad. We had all this space and all this stuff, but we didn’t spend much time together.

When my dad lost most of his money when I was a teenager, I didn’t realize how much it would affect me later in life. My parents did an excellent job at convincing me everything would be fine if I kept working hard. So, I did.

I was discouraged my whole life from working while in school. My dad emphasized how our studies should be our main priority. I didn’t listen. My “rebellious” phase was teaching dance classes, writing for the local newspaper, and working at a couple small restaurants. When I was bored at school, I found I was able to practice my work ethic outside of my education.

I never thought about paying for college. My dad had always assured me it would be taken care of with our “trust fund.” In college, once my dad was suspended from practicing law and we were suddenly out of any income for the first time, I realized that a “trust fund” consisting of only antique cars was basically worthless. It might have paid for a fraction of my education, but I’m truly fortunate for Loyola providing such generous scholarships. Signing on lots of loans, I began my workaholic lifestyle, finally recognizing the financial burden I had unknowingly taken on years ago.

In college, I was working 2-3 jobs the entire time that I was taking 18-21 credit hours. Still an honors student, I thrived on being busy. While I was also battling an eating disorder, it was a coping mechanism to stay preoccupied from my personal issues. Once I finally reached burnout in grad school, I began staying in more and saying “no” to social events. I was pretty antisocial, but I knew it was vital for my mental health to continue my education. I was always worried about money.

Now that I have completed my Bachelors and Masters, and now that I have accepted my dream job with one of the largest IT firms in the world, I fear how things may change. Will I still be a workaholic? Probably. My main worry, however, is not money, but if I will lose sight of the important things.

Since I soon will not be saving every single penny, I know I’ll be able to #treatyoself a little more often. But I don’t think I want to. Just because I’ll be able to afford a bigger apartment, I don’t think I’ll want to. Much to my dad’s dismay, I don’t want a car. I don’t want to buy a lot of work clothes (thank the lawd startup culture allows me to dress casually!). I don’t want more things.

I want to cultivate more meaningful relationships. Maintaining a million half-assed relationships with acquaintances is exhausting, even if it looks good on social media or has helped me be well-connected with many people around the world. I want to invest more time in closer friends.

I want to pursue my deeper passions. At the root of it all, I want to write more. I keep putting off the novels and books I’ve started. If I could name one thing I want to accomplish in my life personally, it’s to publish a bestseller. So why am I not making it a priority?

I want to support my family. My parents both insist I focus on spending my money on myself, “living a good life.” But what would my life be without my family? When I know how much they’re struggling, how can I not support them? Supporting them is supporting me, our relationships, and our entire family.

I want to change the world. The best part of working in both fitness and tech startups is knowing that I am working with people to change the world for the better. Not only are we making people happier and healthier recreationally, we are pursuing technologies that will simplify life and make business more sustainable and beneficial for global welfare. The world needs change, and I can’t wait to do my part by focusing on the important things.

Minimalism doesn’t mean I have to do less or be less. Instead, I’m going to be more of me. Focus on my strengths and capabilities, making the most of each day, living with passion and purpose. I have some fears regarding the unknown, but I’m ready to accept each day as a challenge to conquer.

“Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.”

++ Mary K

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