I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life doing what I'm supposed to do.
- I went to college because that’s what you're supposed to do.
- I got a job to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day because that's what you're supposed to do.
- I lived for the weekends because that's what you're supposed to do.
I ended up for a brief time with a life I did not want, a life that was not me.
I’ve previously written a lot about the importance of following your own path and not living life based on a template.
The truth is, it’s damn hard not to. The few of us that evolved past living based on conventions and social norms are trying to keep our heads above water. But the mainstream, the sea of “what works,” seems to keep pulling us back under.
The mainstream isn’t working for me (in fact, I can’t remember a time it did). Common sense isn’t working for me anymore either. I don’t need to do things that are common. I don’t need to do things that make sense to other people. I don’t need to go with the grain. I don’t need to take the path of the most resistance. I don’t need to follow the leader.
I need to follow myself.
Doing what works is killing our dreams because we have this expectation to follow a pre-planned life. All throughout our schooling we’re taught the same things. We’re given a template for life that just doesn’t match up with what we really want.
It doesn’t match because it’s a template.
We may never find the job of our dreams. We may never find anyone who can answer our deepest questions about life. We may never have anyone show us how to live the lives we imagine.
We won’t find it because it’s not us. The only one who can answer those questions is really ourselves.
So if we want to make our dreams a reality, we have to stop doing what works. We have to abandon the mainstream. This means that we have to:
- Take risks, get made fun of, go almost broke.
- Stumble forward as you figure out how to provide value and be useful.
- Do what is in us to do.
All of this is hard because if it was easy, everyone would do it.
It’s so easy to follow the path that’s already been paved. It’s not as easy to do what’s never been done. It’s not as easy to follow your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, artist, small business owner when no one else around you has ever done it. It’s not easy to create a job for yourself when you can just fill out an application for one that already exists.
So if you want to make your dreams a reality you’re going to have accept the fact that you’re going to have to be your own boss. Instead of following the rules, you make up your own rules.
In 2009 I stared writing this blog
I had no idea what I was doing. I was working at PWC as an internal auditor and I barely knew what a blog was. I found a lot of hype online about making money from blogs and I got curious. I thought that maybe this would be my ticket out from the 9-5 grind. Then I got a reality check.
I realize that in order to make a living creating content, it takes a long term investment. It also takes a willingness to accept a lot of strange looks when you tell people you’re trying to start a business around blogs, YouTube and email marketing. People will doubt you. They’ll think you’re taking a huge risk. They’ll tell you that you don’t know what you’re doing.
And you know what? You probably don’t know what you’re doing. I didn’t. I failed forward for years before I had success. I still have a lot to learn. Life is a messy business and trying to have everything figured out in advance is likely to bring more stress than it relieves.
"Knowing what your doing" has to no longer be a determining factor in the pursuit of your dreams. I didn't know what I was doing when I started. All I knew was that I’m done doing "what I'm supposed to." I’m doing what works for me. I’m following my own heart, my own path to happiness, wherever that may lead me.
The hardest part is to overcome the voice of practicality and doubt.
It’s difficult to not cave in and to just give up and get a job. I know it crossed my mind when I was teaching English, making YouTube videos, designing websites, blogging and making around $2200 a month doing it.
It was madness because I did not know how things would pan out. One thing I did know was that I would rather be doing what I choose to do and not know when my dreams would come true instead of doing what I'm "supposed to do" and knowing for sure my dreams will remain as such, a dream.
If you’re off the beaten path, you may be lonely. But that’s a good thing. Because when you know you’re treading uncharted waters, you’re following the compass of your heart.