I remember staring at my gray cubicle walls. At all the emails about nothing. At the dis-impassioned lives of many around me and just wanting to scream! I’d sit there and daydream about sending a company-wide email that read one thing. And one thing only.
Subject: THERE’S GOT TO BE MORE THAN THIS?! (I QUIT!)
There’s too many real.live.half-dead adults for you to join the ranks. Wouldn’t you agree?
Unless you like coming home from work feeling drained and depressed from eight hours of, honestly, doing nothing. Of just trying to make it through the day, slowly joining all those who gave up on their hopes and dreams years ago.
If you don’t want to become a real.live.half.dead adult, here’s what I suggest:
1. Stop waiting for the “right” time to pursue your dreams and goals
Waiting for the right time to pursue your dreams is like waiting for enough sleep to be a good parent.
2. Take an honest time-audit of your day
Still think that you really just don’t have the time to pursue your dreams. Look at a typical day. Break it down by every hour. Where can you make changes? Can you at least find 30 minutes – 1 hour to start working at one small goal pertaining to your dream? That might mean getting up earlier or staying up late.
And believe me, I get that life is crazy busy and the more responsibility you add (AKA kids, who “selfishly” need you to survive) this gets pretty hard. I worked on growing my website here at All Groan Up and writing a book while working a full time job in marketing, completing a Masters program, having our first baby, and then throwing another bouncy beautiful bundle of unbridled energy about 18 months after our first.
If pursuing your dreams were simple, there would be a lot less cubicles on this earth.
3. Resist the lure of office birthday cake and drowning out your day with a gigantic lunch
Don’t sit at your computer perched like a Roman gargoyle. Don’t let office birthday cake be forced on you like a cigarette behind your middle school. Bust out before your butt does.
If you replaced office birthday cake with half an avocado, I swear that alone could make a huge difference.
4. Don’t let all the “benefits” call the shots
As I wrote in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties, “The most dangerous job you can have in your twenties is a comfortable one.”
Don’t let comfortable become your quicksand. Don’t let the benefits become your purpose. Don’t let the frills and features blind you of the cost.
It’s kind of like having friends with benefits. Where the only real benefit becomes the benefit of losing your friend. Anytime you’re letting the benefits become the only thing that’s keeping you there, you’re in trouble.
5. Don’t let fear and insecurities call the shots
I write about this in my new book All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! and how I realized how “chicken-excrement” afraid I was to really live my life when I watched this scene from Joe Vs the Volcano. You can’t say it better than Tom Hanks did here.
6. Tie your passion into meeting a need or fixing a problem
I think there are two main types of “passion” that people describe. There’s a passion based around a hobby.
- I’m passionate about playing baseball, watching movies, joining an adult rhythmic gymnastics team, taking pictures of my meals…those kind of things.
Then there’s passion that’s based on meeting a real need or a problem that is beyond yourself:
- I’m passionate about helping others overcome addiction. I’m passionate about fixing the political system. I’m passionate about giving people access to organic food, etc…
There’s so much power when your passion is tied to something bigger than yourself and meeting a real need. I know that’s the main thing that kept me going when every publisher was turning me down because I knew there was something real and bigger than me that I was writing to.
7. Dream big and be faithful in the small.
Have big dreams. And then expect for them to happen in a different way than you expect (with a few extra years and failures along the way).
8. Don’t let the fear of failing keep you from trying
9. Give yourself some space to think
Turn off the music in your car. Sit on the toilet without a phone in hand. Get up early and pray. You have some amazing thoughts in there that are just waiting for a chance to be heard. I promise.
Then when you have an amazing “a-ha” moment, write it down.
10. Find a mentor and/or a coach
Seek out those who are further down the path you want to be on and ask them how they became successful. People love sharing their secrets to success. Ask them about it. Then see if they’d be up for going to coffee once a month to tell you more.
11. Stop blaming others
There’s always going to be people who do you wrong, hurt you, and try to squelch that fire within you. Accept it, go to counseling if need be to move forward from it, and then do your best to stop thinking about it. Your mind can only think about one thing at a time. If it’s filled with thoughts of bitterness, regret, revenge, and anger, then what is your life going to consist of?
12. Receive feedback
You’re amazing. We both know it. But we also both know there are a few things you could improve on.
If the moment you smell feedback you charge at it like a rhino protecting his turf, then people are going to start avoiding you.
13. Limit the feedback you receive from real.live.half.dead adults
Those who gave up on their dreams and hopes years ago love trying to help you give up on yours.
14. Limit feedback you receive from insecure people
Taking life advice from an insecure person is like taking driving lessons from a seven year old.
15. Grit + Perseverance + Hard Work + Humility + Creativity = Some Pretty Amazing Stuff
I think our generation loves the creativity piece of this equation. But sometimes I think we miss the first four parts and they might be the most important.
16. Never enter into that cold confused complacency of thinking you’ve got it all figured out.
Keep reading. Keep learning. Here’s a list the top 21 non-fiction books everything twentysomething should read if you’re looking for a place to start. Keep going on adventures and trying new things. Meet new people and ask good questions. Come at life from a stance of “what new things can I learn today?”
17. Defeat the Liar
Every one feels lacking when they pursue something bigger than themselves. It’s big. You’re not going to know how to accomplish it all while standing at the starting line. That’s okay.
I write about this more in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties, but you can’t let that Liar in your mind tell you that you don’t have what it takes and you should just quit. Speak to that lie with truth.
18. Mine Your Story for Clarity and Direction
Just like you wouldn’t pick up a book in the middle and try to understand the story, you need to mine your own story for those Pivotal Plot Points in your life that tell you a lot about what you need to include in your future story.
19. Employ a Dream Team
Find 2-4 people who also don’t want to become real.live.half.dead adults. Start meeting together. Form a dream team. Share your goals, vision, fears, and insecurities. Support each other.
Your dreams will only go as far as those crucial relationships you have around you.
20. Leverage the Best of Who and What You Are (Skills + Strengths + Values + Dreams + Relationships)
What if you knew what you wanted in life? I mean, really knew. To the point where it didn’t matter what the critics or cynics were shouting in your ear?
And the biggest critic that’s been stopping you for years slowly became your biggest advocate? That critic, of course, being yourself.
Start truly defining the best of who and what you are. Then move forward in that.
PS – I closed the doors yesterday to the outside world on my new Finding Your Signature Sauce online course and private community. However, I’m keeping a few spots open for one more day, Tuesday, Oct. 20th, to the amazing community here at All Groan Up. I’m not sure when I’ll be opening the Signature Sauce course again, but I know it won’t be until 2016. If you want to join Signature Sauce, go here.