At some point or another in our lives, we lose direction.
Most of the time, though, we know where we want to go, but we don’t have any clue how to get there.
This morning while I was getting ready for work I listened to an interesting presentation given by Professor Renata Salecl which “explores the paralysing anxiety and dissatisfaction surrounding limitless choice.”
In the talk, Professor Salecl talks about how being faced with a choice can make us feel. A classic example that I related to was sitting at a restaurant and ordering a bottle of wine. Salcel tells the story of a colleague that becomes anxious each time he is faced with this task. If he chooses the most expensive bottle, his friends will think he is a show-off, if he chooses the cheapest, his friends may perceive him as a cheapskate. So, as a general rule, he always chooses something in the middle and insists on paying for it.
That got me thinking. Do we always force ourselves into choosing something in the middle? Whether its our jobs, the clothes we wear, the food we eat or the level of difficulty we chose in sports and games, are we always limiting ourselves to the middle?
Clearly, we cannot all be number one at the same thing. That’s just impossible. If everyone that worked for every company was the CEO, there wouldn’t be anyone in the company to manage. It sounds silly, doesn’t it?
The way that we can override our natural tendency to be something in the middle is to dare to be something more. To make our own choices that might be off the beaten path.
Right now, more than anything, I want to quit my job and start my own business. (I am completely flattered by those of you that continue to ask me why I have not already done that.) However, quitting my job and starting my own business exposes me to a lot of risk:
- What if I don’t make enough money?
- How will I get health insurance?
- What if one of my clients sues me?
- Where will I get the money to advertise?
- What happens when I can’t handle all of the work on my own?
If you are thinking of going off on your own, you are probably asking yourself all of these questions. They are great questions, too. The problem is, where you work, you probably have a department of people that worries about your company’s revenue, a department of people that deals with providing your insurance, a legal team that handles litigation, a marketing team that keeps consumers informed of your products and a management system to ensure the work is being accomplished.
Going off on your own, you are going to handle all of those things on your own. So how do you get the big push you need to do it?
You need to make the choice.
Most people do not start their own business because of the risks involved. They already have a steady income, a decent HMO and a corporate 401(k) match (if they are lucky). To start on their own would mean abandoning all of these things already provided for them. Not only that, but it is a lot easier to maintain a middle management job while flying low on the radar.
Why would you leave all of that? Who in their right mind would want to sacrifice healthcare, free retirement money and the ability to wear a sport coat instead of a suit on Friday?
At some point we need to make the choice to step outside of our comfort zone. To try something new. To be adventurous.
If you are like me, you have already made the choice to start something of your own. However, if you’re smart, you haven’t ditched your day job yet.
This is where the direction comes in.
If my working conditions were completely unbearable and I couldn’t stand another day in the office without harming my personal relationships, I would have left. However, things are tolerable and manageable. They are where I need them to be in order to succeed in my next venture.
In order to find direction, you need to find the people that will help you get where you are going.
Whether they are your family, your friends or your special someone, you need to find the people that will help point you in the right direction but not be afraid to tell you when you are about to do something completely stupid.
Many times I have come home and told myself I was going to quit my job and start my own business. However, I am lucky to have the people in my life to show me that I can’t just give up without an exit plan. Some of these people are mentors whom I have met online, others are former co-workers and the most important one is my lovely girlfriend, Brittani.
Each day they influence me and help me develop my strategy for success. They point out what I am passionate about and what I should work harder on. They challenge me to think about things differently and to renew my perspective. Because of them, I am constantly growing, changing and evolving my plan for success.
It’s with these people that I find direction.
Surround yourself with people that have been successful, people that care about you, and people that admire you.
Know what you want to do. Make the decision to change. Do what it takes to get there and depend on the people that enrich your life to help you find the right path to get where you’re going.
Once you get there, don’t forget to look back and offer your hand and share with those that could benefit from your wisdom.