For many of us, finding ourselves means finding that which we want to pursue in life. This usually takes the form of a career and lifestyle — it is a decision that we make that will decide the path that we will follow.
The issue that I have come across and that I see being met by a large number of others is this: we are prone to making uninformed decisions, decisions regarding the purpose of our lives — regarding that which will make us happy — decisions that are made without the knowledge of the reality of living with the decision we choose to make.
We too often mistakenly believe that a certain life is the life that we truly want to live when, if we knew all the facts, it would not appeal to us whatsoever nor to our nature. We make a decision relying on what we believe living a certain lifestyle will be like, without having any knowledge of — or experience in — whatever industry we are considering becoming a part of.
This is the mistake that I made growing up — over and over again. I have dabbled in a handful of different industries and I have yet to hit my 30s. Being a dreamer at heart, I would imagine how it would feel to be successful in my chosen industry at the time, and imagined how great and perfect my life would be.
Eventually, persisting within the given area for an extended period of time, I had to conclude that the life I dreamt up for myself could not possibly be attained by remaining in the industry that I had chosen — the industry that I had at one point believed was my calling. So I moved on to the next one. And then the next one. And then the next one… And I think you get the picture.
What I have been doing for the last decade or so is not necessarily the wrong way of going about things — it may take some of us longer than others in coming across that which creates that hunger within us. However, I could have saved myself quite a bit of time if I did two things: One, did more research on the industry I was planning on becoming a part of; and Two, having the balls to get out as soon as I knew that staying in that industry wasn’t going to work for me.
Doing the research, knowing the field, is not only essential in the choosing of a path, but is essential for becoming successful on that path. In order to become successful in any given industry you must learn the ins and outs of that industry. You must learn the history of the industry and, if you are working on an international platform, you must learn the history of that country.
You must become familiar with the way that people do business in the country that you plan to become successful in. You must become acquainted with all the little nooks and crannies and know the business just as well, if not better, than you know yourself. You must delve into the career that you want fully — headfirst.
You must become familiar with the lifestyle that those leading the industry live. You must know all the pros of leading such a life and, more importantly, you must know all the cons that come along with it. If you are happy with the pros, but know that you won’t be able to stomach the cons, then you shouldn’t push to become part of that world.
Of course, this type of in-depth research cannot be completely done from a distance; you will have to get your hands dirty. But before you pull out the shovel, do whatever research you can from outside the industry looking in. It is inefficient to first become part of a business or lifestyle and then to do the due informational diligence.
The Internet is a great tool for getting to know any industry and to help you understand what you are likely to be getting yourself into before you actually get yourself into it. Once you dig up whatever information you can from outside the candy shop, it’s time to walk in and unwrap some wrappers.
Talk to people directly in the industry. Ask them questions — questions that you could not answer via Google. Make connections — network. Absorb as much information as you possibly can. If you decide that you found that which you have been looking for, then do not stop learning. You must continue to be a student of the industry and of life in order to become successful. Always be hungry for new information that will give you an edge against competitors. Merge yourself with your passion.
If, on the other hand, at some point along the way you come to realize that the path you are traveling is not the path that you should be on, then stop walking ahead, consult your map and figure out which new route must be taken. Do not feel bad that you are dropping a career that you spent the last several years developing.
It is much wiser to admit that you are lost, call it quits and find the next road you need to turn on rather than continue heading in a direction that you know won’t lead you to where you want to be. Heading in the wrong direction not only costs you time, but also costs you opportunities. Understanding the deal is the most important part of making it.
Choices like this tend to require some sacrifice — if you are sacrificing for something that you will not keep around because your wants or your goals and perspectives change, is one thing. Sacrificing and then coming to realize that you failed to get to know the decision you are making in its entirety and having to give up your path, as well as face the fact that you sacrificed for no reason, is just plain stupid.
Paul Hudson | Elite.