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- Career Design
I’m willing to bet you’re waiting for something.
You’re dreaming about it. You’re nervous.
You can’t wait for the big day–the graduation, the pay check, the promotion, the finish line. You imagine that when your big break comes, it will change everything.
More than likely, it won’t. At least, not the way you think.
Consider the guy who nearly wound up in a Mexican jail because his meticulously planned engagement dinner was spoiled by a yacht and a guy in a speedo. His intentions were sweet, but it goes to show how easy it is to lose sight of what really matters.
Chances are you’ve made the same mistake, though maybe without the machine guns.
A “big day” mentality can be deadly to achieving the life you want, but you can’t really be blamed. To understand the origin of this error, and how you can correct it, we have to go back in time to your very first big day: your birthday.
Big day = bad idea
If you think about it, the annual celebration of our birth doesn’t make much sense.
While it was certainly life altering for everyone involved, your birthday probably wasn’t your mother’s favorite experience. Why not throw parties on the anniversary of your first smile or the day you were potty trained?
There’s nothing particularly special about most of the “big days” we focus on. Finishing your first marathon doesn’t make you a better person and a promotion doesn’t come with a guarantee (of anything).
The problem with “big days” is that it puts a lot of pressure on an event that isn’t all that important. And when your life doesn’t do a magical turnaround, you can wind up feeling empty and somehow unworthy.
This is especially true for career changers.
When I went through my process of choosing a new career, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I said to myself, “This is what I’ve always wanted. Now I’m finally going to do it.”
In hindsight, the idea that I was now going to become a writer is pretty strange.
I’ve been writing poetry since the age of 6, ultimately leading to the publication of a book of poems about the intersection between science and life. I was already a blogger, otherwise known as a writer who isn’t getting paid yet. (For the record, neither are poets.)
Changing careers didn’t make me a writer. Neither would landing a big name agent, making the best seller list (or not), or crossing the 10,000 blog subscriber mark.
I was focused on all the wrong things: the distinguishers, the things I hadn’t yet accomplished, how I made my money.
Chances are, if you’re thinking about changing careers, you’ve done the same thing.
So stop pinning your hopes on a big day.
If you want to be a writer, be a writer, right now. Write something.
If you want to be a doctor, say “I am a healer.” Then go tend to someone.
If you want to be a lawyer, say “I am an advocate.” Then go advocate for someone or something.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, go sell something, even if it’s just an idea and you get paid in gratitude.
You can do what you want today. The 100th step in a journey arguably isn’t any more important than the 99 that came before it.
That doesn’t mean your big days aren’t exciting. But so is today.
Don’t devalue what you’ve already done. Don’t let a big day mentality tempt you into the procrastination that comes with perfectionism. Don’t believe the lies that you’re not educated enough or experienced enough or connected enough to claim your vocation.
I am a writer.
Who are you?
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