Nearly a third of your waking hours will be spent working. With so much time being spent on the job, don’t you think you should spend it doing something you love (or at least don’t absolutely hate)? Many of us choose career paths based on the influences around us. Perhaps our parents suggested a field to enter, or we observe our peers choosing a conventional career path and it seems like the sensible thing to do.
This may lead to regret down the road when we realize that our work lacks personal meaning. What makes the most sense is to follow our dreams and travel on a path that is unique to us, but this approach may not be the most practical. Here are some ways to start working towards your life’s calling, regardless of what the people around you think you should be doing.
1. Don’t listen to your parents
Parents are a great resource for advice on and endless amount of subjects. When it comes to what you’d like to do for a living, however, it is wise to ignore their suggestions. Your parents care about you and they want what’s best for you. They want you to be safe, secure, and successful. They will likely nudge you towards a conventional career path that’s stable, and try to steer you away from anything that seems risky. They do this out of love, but they don’t realize the potential damage they may be doing to your future. At a certain point you have to take ownership of your life and make decisions based on what you want, which means that you will have to rebel against the advice of those who are closest to you. There may even be a slight twinge of envy directed towards you if you choose to do something unique. Your parents may feel a bit of jealousy towards you because they didn’t follow their dreams when they were young, and it’s possible that they’re unconsciously trying to guide you away from your true path because of it.
2. Keep your dreams close and keep your mouth shut
It is human nature for people to try and pull you down when they see you on the rise. When you attempt to do something that strays from the norm, people will often scoff at you and try to convince you that it can’t be done. Think of all of the great entertainers that we look up to. I guarantee you that people tried to talk them out of following their dreams on their way to the top. This is especially important when you’re just beginning. You’re most likely to give up early on, and the last thing you need is the input from others on what you should or shouldn’t be pursuing. They can find out what you’ve been working on once you’re established. Until then, keep your lips zipped and your head low.
3. Keep your day job
You have to have a roof over your head and food in your stomach. If the path your pursuing doesn’t guarantee you an income right away, it’s best to keep your day job. Stephen King wrote parts of his novels on lunch breaks during his shifts. Work on your side project after hours and on weekends. Utilize all of your spare time to build and establish yourself. Once you are making a sufficient income to support yourself from your side project, then you can quit your day job.
4. Learn as much as you can about your industry
Read books on the subject you’re interested in. Dozens of books. Hundreds of books. There’s bound to be some form of literature that has information pertaining to your subject of interest. Adopt a continual learning process in hopes of one day developing an expert level knowledge of your subject. The more you learn, the more you can potentially earn.
Ask yourself a question (i.e. how do I make money in ____?) Conduct some research. Formulate a hypothesis. Test it out. Launch a beta version of your product. Write the first draft of your book. Create your own website. Play with different approaches until you find one that works. When you do find something that works, refine the process and perform the experiment over and over until you get it just right.
6. Accept the fact that you’re going to fail
It is almost inevitable that you are going to have to fail once or multiple times before you finally make it. If starting a successful venture were easy then everybody would be doing it. Consider the worst possible scenario at the start and decide whether or not you would be able to handle it. If you decide that you’d be able to push through it, then give it your best shot. We’ve been taught to fear failure by our school systems and by society as a whole. We’re told that playing it safe and avoiding failure at all costs is the right way to go. Instead of trying to avoid an obstacle, realize that the obstacle is the way. The path to the life of your dreams moves through failure, not away from it.
7. Find a mentor
Mentors can be extremely useful in shortening your learning curve. They have an intuitive feel for the subject or industry and simply being in their presence can imbed an underlying knowledge into your consciousness. Apprenticeships were common many years ago, but the practice is no longer widely used. An apprentice gains skills by carefully studying along side the master until they’ve gained enough knowledge and experience to venture out on their own. It’s not imperative that you find a mentor, but it can definitely be of great use if you can find one.
8. Deserve what you want
Many people like to attribute the circumstances of the successful to luck or inherent ability. It makes them feel better to deny the fact that in reality the success of these people is anything but accidental. Michael Jordan is perhaps the most successful athlete that has ever lived, and he definitely has some natural abilities and talents. What people fail to see is the fact that he had an almost superhuman work ethic. He worked to become a better player essentially everyday of his life from the time his career began until it ended.
He was the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. I have read his biography and Jordan claims that there is only one thing that truly set him apart from the competition – his standards. He simply set higher standards for himself than anybody else would even consider. You have to set high standards for yourself. You have to realize that you get what you want you have to deserve what you want. When working towards your goal you must be honest with yourself about the amount of effort you’re putting in.
9. Consider your own mortality
Human beings have a tendency to believe that we are invincible. We hear about people dying all of the time, but we never believe that it will happen to us, at least not before the expected age. Think about what you’re doing with your life. If you knew that you’re time on this earth was limited, would you be doing things differently. When you’re feeling hesitant, consider the fact that each day may be your last and use that as your motivation to keep things in motion.
10. Never Quit
It’s okay to become discouraged. It’s okay to feel like you want to give up. It’s not okay to actually give up. The greatest part about being alive is that you literally have unlimited chances granted to you until it’s over. You’re never a failure until you quit. Reach your destination or die trying.