We have all heard the tired mantras: "Do what you love, and you will never work a day," and "Follow your dreams."
Is this what it means to be successful? To do what we love? If that is the case, then why are so many people dissatisfied with their careers?
Success is a nebulous term. It means something different to whomever you ask. What is most important is to know what it means for you. It could be that the definition that works for you is not what the mainstream culture thinks success is. Be prepared to challenge societal norms by fighting for what you want most.
What do you define as success?
What does success mean for you? Is it making a certain amount of money? Being the CEO? Running a business? The ability to take a couple of months off every year? To be clear on this we'll pave the path for what next steps make sense in your career.
To have a succinct definition of success in your career is a great start. To stop there, however, is like listening to a motivational speech and then sitting on the couch. You must create some structures to act on the goals you have for yourself.
Many people struggle with this part. They believe that they need to create everything in their career on their own. This myth is quite destructive, in that it denies the beauty of collaboration that is so essential to creating success. We need each other.
Consider the best athletes today, such as Lebron James. James is a phenomenal athlete, and yet he is always practicing. He has multiple coaches that push him harder than he could ever push himself. He also has a team that is committed to the same goal. James would not and does not take sole credit for his success.
Tip 1: Get a support system
Why would you be any different than the best athletes of our time? You're not! You deserve to have the support you need to achieve your goals. And the good news is that there are so many different structures you can put into place to do so.
Some of the most powerful structures that I use to achieve my goals are working one on one with my coach, regular sessions with my therapist, and a team of colleagues that I speak with regularly. I think of these people as Team Ben. They show up for me to have the life I want most and call me forth.
These might not be the structures that work best for you. Some people create mastermind or meetup groups, for example. What matters most is that you choose structures that work best for you. Try out a few if you don't know from the get-go what will work best. Sometimes we need to fail to succeed.
Tip 2: Accept change as part of the process
All of this comes with the caveat that your definition of success will change over time. New possibilities will present themselves that alter the trajectory of your career and life. This is why I invest in a coach; we create a specialized plan to address the rollercoaster of life for me week by week.
It is essential to be flexible when it comes to success. As an entrepreneur and artist, I know that opportunities present themselves in strange and unknown ways. I have to be prepared to step into the unknown. I must be ready to move forward on short notice. I must also be able to change up my thinking about when and how my goals come to fruition and enjoy the ride.
I am an advocate for having skills outside of our main passion for relying on for additional income. It would be ideal to have a career doing what we love most, and the journey to get there takes time.
We fall into magical thinking sometimes when we believe that we can make it big doing what we love right away. As one of my mentors has said, "You cannot give birth to a sixteen-year-old." Often when we dive into a new passion without any safety net, it becomes burdensome and we quit. We may also lose the love we developed for what we do.
Tip 3: Give yourself time to become successful
Give your craft the time it needs to grow. To be a professional in anything takes time, money, energy, and determination. If you have to rely on that career to also generate your income, it can be overwhelming.
To develop a skill outside of your main passion will serve you well. It will allow you to focus on something else, make the income you need to pay your bills and leave time for you to focus on your passion. You might find yourself doing something exclusively to pay the bills, which is okay! Just make sure that you have a timeframe in which you are allowing yourself to do that job before you make the leap to doing something else.
You must define what a successful career means to you throughout your life. If you take the advice of the masses, you will find yourself disliking or even hating what you do. The culture at large does not care about what alternative ideas of success look like, and we must forge our paths (with the help of others, of course!) to have what we want in our life.
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