Your Life Isn't A Stepping Stone Unless You Step Off It
Life is really rather simple. All you need to do is eat, stay hydrated, sleep and breathe. That's all-- nothing else is necessary for you to live. Everything else that we do is done in excess of the necessary, usually because we believe that the act or acts will better our quality of life, better our experiences.
Most of us are under the misconception that more is better, that movement and change are always good things. We like to call this progress, but we do so incorrectly. Progress occurs when you move towards a point, a goal. Many of us are under the illusion that we are making progress, when in actuality we are stuck on a treadmill and have been for years.
Since we were little we have been groomed to function within a set of rules and regulations that we have been told we must follow in order to succeed. I am sure that I am not the only person whose parent thought that their kid (you) ought to grow up to be a lawyer.
The idea was that becoming a lawyer would guarantee financial security and stability. It's a rather amusing thought seeing as how the last field that anyone ought to be trying to get into right now is law; there's simply too many lawyers and not enough lawsuits.
Looking for a way to simply pay the bills is not what Generation-Y is about. Generation-X is all about playing it safe; we, on the other hand, are known for being risk-takers, innovators. Or so I thought. The truth is that while most of us would like to believe that we are the outside-the-box thinkers that we say we are, most of us are no better than the safety-net installing Generation-X.
In fact, many a time we are worse. While Generation-X is content with having a dreary 9 to 5 and accepts the fact that they are where they are and will continue to be where they are until the end of their days, Generation-Y settles for crappy jobs as “stepping-stones” to something better. The only problem is that a stepping-stone isn't a stepping-stone if you don't step off it.
I have met too many people -- smart, intelligent, good looking people -- people who have somehow managed to get themselves stuck in a position that they now feel is impossible to escape. I have a friend who is a bar manager. He's a great guy: smart, witty, handsome, diligent and fun to be around. He has been bartending for sometime near a decade and most definitely makes a decent living. The problem is that every time I look at him, I can tell he isn't happy.
So one day I struck up a conversation with him about his life and his job, and found out that my assumption was true. Although my friend has both job and financial security, managing a bar and bartending is not what he imagined himself doing for a living.
So I asked him: “Why don't you take some time to figure out what you really do want to do? If you don't want to be a bartender, then why would you continue being a bartender?” His answer: “I'm already 33-years-old. It's too late for me to do anything different.”
This, of course, is a ridiculous notion; it is never too late to change your career from something you loath to something you love. It is better to experience a single moment of happiness doing a job that you love than living an entire life in misery doing a job that you never meant to hold down for longer than a year or two. But this feeling of defeat is not uncommon.
And my bar managing friend is right; it's not easy to throw away a job that feeds you for the uncertain. Could you just as easily quit waiting tables to work as an intern at an art gallery? Or start your own start-up while risking the possibility of being unable to pay your rent? Most people won't -- and it's understandable. You need to eat and you need a place to sleep. Putting all of that on the line for your dreams may seem like too much of a gamble. Fair enough.
However, there is no reason you can't work on achieving your dreams while holding down the job that pays your electricity bill. Take this from someone who has worked way too much in the past: you can work a lot more hours than you believe that you can. Already working 40 hours a week? I have worked more than double that every week for half a year.
The trick is to spend as much time as possible doing something that you enjoy, while minimizing the hours of work that actually feel like work. Once your passion starts to take off and become a career of its own, then you can start to cut down on the 'excess'.
You can phase-out your 'job' slowly, taking fewer shifts every month and spending more time on your project. Gradually, you can make your way from being a bar manager to living your dream. It takes time and perseverance.
Living only requires the minimum. If you are breathing, then you are alive. Everything else that we do, we do because we want to do it or because we believe that we ought to do it. In order to achieve progress you need, first and foremost, a specific goal to progress towards.
Your dream life is attainable as long as you believe that it is. Once you give up hope, give up the possibility, give up the dream, you become lost -- you become a mouse running on a wheel. But unlike a mouse, you know very well that you aren't going anywhere, aren't making any progress. That is the worst realization one can make: realizing that you are working your ass off just to keep up with the spinning of the wheel.
Don't let the world take control of your life. Don't run in place. If you want progress, change, the life you need to live, then step off of that stone. Progress isn't where you are -- it's always waiting for you two stepping-stones ahead.
Paul Hudson | Elite.
For more for Paul, follow him on Twitter @MrPaulHudson