The best part of building and maintaining a successful brand is that you get to do what you like/want to do and make money doing it. And since we — at least us always-striving-for-more-no-matter-how-much-we-already-have Americans — spend so much of our lives working (8 hours is one third of your day! No to mention your commute and the mental energy expended thinking about tomorrow’s work day), that’s pretty important.
Many people accept the “reality” of life: they can have one or the other, and should be happy to even accept that compromise. The two categories:
- You do what you love, but can’t make quite enough to support yourself, so your favorite activity becomes a side hobby and gradually receives less of your attention and energy. One day you’re sitting with (or watching a video of or reading about) someone who seemingly “got it right” and does what they love, and you reflect and lament on what you know you love most, but somehow stopped doing it completely. A brief spark of ambition lights up inside of you and you resolve that you can, indeed make it happen. Then that good ol’ reality creeps up and pulls you back down to your rightful place. You remember all of your adult responsibilities and financial limitations and how things went wrong 6 months ago and your soul falls right back asleep, even deeper than last time. Like a muscle you keep lifting heavier weights with, every time you do this, the sleep gets stronger and deeper.
- You earn (plenty of) enough money, doing something you have no passion for. Maybe it’s not terrible work so bad that you dread even getting out of bed — like when I sold gym memberships — but there’s no fulfillment whatsoever. Your cell phone stays activated, you can go out and have drinks every weekend and you’re comfortable. Ultimately the person in this scenario dies a slow death of comfort or feels how I would have felt had I not had a long-term vision of where I was going: Like you’re running on a treadmill with no time or distance goal.
On the far end of this spectrum, you hate your job, but you need your job. Some need their jobs because of the appearance of the work — I recently met a woman who said she became a lawyer “because of the prestige” — and the social approval that comes with such a trade. It looks good and sounds good at a cocktail party. It’s accepted and respected and doesn’t draw much attention or a ton of questions (as opposed to, say, “I play professional basketball internationally” or “I make videos for YouTube and run my own personal website”). Others feel, or trick themselves into feeling, that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do, whether that be because mommy or daddy did it before them, or they felt/feel some obligation to another person or group. Others need to keep their jobs to maintain the lifestyle they upgraded to as money came in — family expenses, a home, the car note, the newest TVs and furniture, shopping — and eventually have their things owning them rather than the other way around.
I know a lot of people in both categories. Actually, most of the people I know are in one of those categories. And the human brain is a hell of an organ. We have learned over each of our years as beings (and millions of years of evolution) how to rationalize anything in our lives which we cannot or will not change or otherwise address.
How many times have you checked out at the register of a retail store, or dealt with a worker at the DMV, or pre-paid for your gas, and been served by a person who clearly did not want to be there and made no attempt to mask the feeling? Why not just quit? They probably a) need the money, b)are afraid of not being able to find other work, c) are waiting for something to happen which they do not control, or d) have resigned themselves to their circumstances.
How many professional adults do you know who would openly admit that they hate their jobs or feel personally unfulfilled by what they spend a third of their lives doing? Most of us are too proud and/or possess much too well-developed egos to ever let these words form in our mouths.
Work takes up a huge amount of our lives. It only makes sense to get to place where we enjoy the shit. But of course, it’s not that simple as just snapping a finger and it all changes to a neat, prefect little picture. But the first step in going from where we are to where we want to be is agreeing that we are not where we want to be and that change must take place. That decision is the start of the change.
Think about your last day at work. Did you enjoy yourself? If money were not an issue would you have done that same amount of the same work for free? What are the pros and cons of your job — which list is longer? By how much? Do you want to spend your next five years the same way as this most recent day at work?
You’re probably wondering what I’m going to tell you to do now, but you’re skipping a step. The mind has to make a decision that there is something to do first.