I’m sorry for being quiet on here of late – there was LFW, and then a crazily busy week, and then a couple of really exciting things happened which I’ll tell you about soon. But in the meantime, I felt like writing a post on something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. For those of you hoping the title means this post is about sex, you’ll be tragically mistaken. What I’m actually going to discuss is the extraordinary amount of people I know who aren’t happy with their lives, or who want to do something else, but just don’t do anything about it. They talk endlessly about their dreams, how much they hate their job/boss/colleagues, constantly use the phrase ‘when I get my new job/my new place to live/some money/some free time’ etc but they never seem to move on.
Look, I’m not going to get all dewy-eyed and ‘Climb Every Mountain!’ about this, but really, now. Young people today, eh?! Obviously the job climate isn’t conducive to just leaving your job and pursuing your dreams, I understand that. But what’s wrong with putting a little bit of hard graft in during your spare time? We live in 2012, so much can be done remotely. I’m a bit sick of people telling me how ‘busy’ they are, when they actually clock off work before 6 and have whole weekends free. See, right there! That’s heaps of time!
I suppose what I’m trying to get at here is the people who constantly blame circumstance or other people for not being able to do the things they want. I’m not being idealistic: of course, you’ll come up against problems. But you also need to look to yourself. I often have quite a few nice opportunities I like to pass on to friends or Twitter chums, purely because I think that if you can help someone get some valuable experience, you can get them to meet some potential contacts, and ultimately they can actually try out the thing they’re always saying they want to do. I had someone actually ask me to be involved with one of the days of London Fashion Week, only to cancel on me the very morning we were supposed to be working together, due to ‘busyness’. Look around. We’re ALL busy.
Maybe the reason I’m coming down so hard on all of this is because I used to be a dreamer. I’m still frequently quite shocked and proud of myself that I’ve done the things I said I was going to do. When I was younger, I was very much of the ‘talk about it LOADS then actually probably don’t do it’ school. I was full of ideas, some insane, and some which I actually could have done if I’d worked through it. These days, I’ve worked really hard to be reliable, trustworthy, and to actually finish the ideas I’ve started.
I’m not saying ‘go and quit your job this very morning and live your dreams! Sparkles and rainbows!’ No no no. I’m saying, hang on to your job, do things in your spare time. Yes, you do have spare time, by the way. If you keep saying you want to be a writer, start a blog. If you want to be a photographer…take some photos! Too many people think that there is a dream job that they’ll walk into and everything will be fine, and then they grow despondent when it doesn’t come along. You’ve got to work hard first, put in the extra effort and hours, and ultimately don’t turn down opportunities. Think about what you can do RIGHT NOW to start making your dreams happen. I bet you there are lots of things.
I’ve made a list of ideas that you can start with. Don’t expect things to happen overnight. Just over a year ago, I left my job in advertising with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do next. I’ve worked hard, put my heart into what I’ve done, and now things are really paying off (touch wood). More than anything, I’m very happy. I’ll be telling you more about what I’m up to very soon, but for now, here are some tips on pursuing your dreams, even if you’re currently working in a job you don’t want to be in:
1. Start with a list. Write down any abstract ideas about what you want to do, who you want to be, and any ideas you might have had. Don’t worry about making them too grounded in reality at this stage, the important point is to let your mind be a bit creative. Jot down any ideas that come into your head at first. Wait a day or two, then start to shape them into workable plans. Lists are your friends.
2. Don’t be afraid of hard work. This is a biggie. Not to get all ‘in my day!’ about it, but I see far too many other young people who just expect things to magically come to them, without any effort. This will not, I repeat, NOT happen. So best get cracking, ok?
3. Take every opportunity you think might help. As with the point above, you’ve got to put in the hard graft before things start happening for you. If you’re really serious about following your dreams, then yes, take every opportunity possible.
4. Engage with people. This is a huge one. Get to know as many people as possible – you never know who might be able to help you out. Be friendly, be interested, and be professional. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people you admire and who might be doing the kind of job you want to do.
5. Be reliable. This is a huge one. I’m self-employed, so if I don’t get my work done on time for my clients, they can just walk away. Or walk away, refuse to work with me ever again, and I’ll start to get a reputation for being rubbish. But it’s not just with clients – learn to be reliable in every part of your life.
6. Keep positive. Things will go wrong on this journey. There have been times in the past year that I’ve been exhausted, stressed and unsure of where I’m going. I’ve kept going, and things have often sorted themselves out. Have faith. If it really isn’t working, you can always step away from it.
7. Manage expectations. In other words, don’t make promises you can’t fulfil, just to keep someone happy. Many times, I’ve been tempted to just say something I know I can’t do, just to avoid disappointing someone. Well, you’re only going to disappoint them more if you promise something and don’t come through. Be honest about what you can achieve and in what kind of time frame, and trust me, it’ll be much better than empty promises.
8. Be grateful, be gracious. Nobody owes you anything just for being you, ok? I am so thankful for all the amazing opportunities I’ve been given, and all the chances people have taken on me. I will never stop being grateful for that, no matter if I’m a multi-millionaire one day. Thank people for those opportunities and for having faith in you.
9. Ultimately, just go for it. What have you got to lose?