Last weekend I went to a wedding and was talking to an old friend about his life. He works retail and has pretty much relegated himself to working there for the rest of his life in the hopes that he gets a promotion to manager or something. Now for some that may be all they are aspiring to, to which I say go get it. However, just by listening to him I know he hates his job and really would rather do something better.
I was in a similar position a couple years ago. I was in a 9-5 job with no opportunity for advancement. At one point I had to sit down and figure out if I wanted to keep working here just for a paycheck or if I wanted to move on. I gathered my thoughts, weighed the pros and cons, and took action.
It can be a daunting task to actually sit down and go to task on yourself. This is one of the reasons why people stay in a rut for so long without changing anything. It’s one thing to know that you don’t like your life, it’s another to understand where you want it to go. I came up 5 tips you can take to get the ball rolling now.
Tip 1: Stop listening to what society deems appropriate for you
Have you ever undertaken something and you know deep down in your gut that you really don’t want to do it? That’s what a lot of people end up doing because it’s what society deeps acceptable. In order to start going where you want in life, you have to at least go in the general direction of what interests you. If you want a family with a few kids with a nice job, by all means go for that. But if you want to be driving sports cars, travel the world, and have 10 girlfriends, then all that will happen is you’ll end up miserable if you follow society’s expectations.
I have a friend who used to be an absolute savage. The guy seemingly didn’t care about anything and was generally pretty lazy. His only concern seemed to be being in a relationship. To make a long story short he had to make some life changes in order to hold a girl down and is now living the American dream lifestyle. What he wants life to be like is drastically different from what I want mine to be like, so we’re drifting apart. That’s the stakes when you are going your own way.
I just listed two extreme ends of the spectrum of human existence, what you want could be somewhere in the middle, but just decide what kind of life you want and disregard any type of societal judgement. Figure out what really makes you happy in life and go for it with reckless abandon.
Once you decide what you like, make no apologies about it. You’re here for a damn reason, you can either take advantage or be bored for the rest of your life.
Tip 2: Describe your perfect life on paper
For this exercise, it helps to get an actual pen and paper out. Something about physically writing something down gives more power to what you are doing. You may be reading this thinking that you’ll just write up a word file, but don’t. Trust me on this and actually write it down physically.
What you need to do is take everyone in your life and throw them aside. This list is all about what you want. Take the paper out and clear your head. Start writing down everything you want in a big list. Try not to think of limitations at this time. For instance, if you want to go to the beach, write it down. At this point in time you may be thinking that you can’t go to the beach because you work odd hours all year and can’t take any time off. Forget that for now and just go to making a list.
My list was rather short and to the point. I wanted to live at the beach, I wanted to surf, and I wanted to drive fast cars around at night. One of the most interesting things I’ve found is that when you really get down to it, most of what you really want isn’t a huge financial strain. That’s great news because if it’s not a huge financial strain, then it means you don’t have to be unfulfilled working a crazy job just to make money for stuff that you don’t actually care about.
Tip 3: Destroy the barriers stopping you from going on your desired path
Once you have the path to your desired destination figured out, there’s only one thing to do. You have to take the first steps down that path to your new life. Step after step after step, and eventually you will get to your destination. So what’s stopping you?
It could be a number of different things. What about my family? Will they be on board with my life changes? What will my parents think of my decisions? What will women think of this? What will my future look like if I make this move?
Throw all that bullshit out, and do you. You want something, start taking action and moving towards your goal and stop worrying about what others will think. At my former position I pretty much just lost my mind and one day. I had enough. I stopped caring what others would think and just let go. The worst case scenario didn’t happen and I’m still alive doing well.
Tip 4: Start actually taking action on things you can do
Once you have your path figured out and you destroyed all barriers from starting, write down stuff you can do every day that will get you to your goal. For instance, let’s say I have a goal of taking a vacation down to the Jersey Shore this year. I would write down stuff to do every day in order to raise the capital I needed to rent a house for a week. How can I do that? One way would be to start doing extra freelance work on the side and making money. If I make x amount every day from here til when I want to go, I’ll have enough scratch to be able to go on vacation for a week.
Once you have the particulars figured out on how you plan to go from A-Z, start implementing your plan immediately. Need to do freelance work? Make it a point to go sign up for every freelance site out there like odesk, elance, etc, and fill out your profiles. Then just start sending out bids on people’s work. Once the orders come in, make sure to get them in on time. Repeat.
This is just one example. You could also do anything that makes you money. You could start a roofing business, a landscaping business, create products for your website, or start an ecommerce store. Whatever it is, break it down into the things you need to do every day and do it.
This is the mentality it takes to start moving from where you were to where you want to go. Stop being underpaid by someone else for insane hours and start creating opportunities for yourself.
Tip 5: Burn the boats
Burning the boats is a reference to when Cortez and his 600 men landed in Mexico to conquer the Aztec Empire. Facing impossible odds, Cortez rallied his men on the beach and gave the order to burn the boats. This gave them no escape plan and emboldened the men into an all or nothing coarse ahead.
Once you make a decision on something, go full force on that until you have made it. Don’t even consider having a backup plan because it may make you subconsciously less effective in your main plan.
Have you decided to change positions and try your hand at your own business? That must be your driving force behind everything you do. There is nothing else. There’s no going back. Only forward or death.
I have the hardest time with this one because it’s hard to stick to. Every now and then I wonder to myself if I should just quit and get a real job. Then I remember back to the mind numbing boredom of it all and the commitment I made to myself.
If you are finding yourself in a rut, follow these tips and get moving NOW.
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