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Does this sound familiar? Your alarm clock screams in your ear at 5:30 am, and like an unwelcome visit from your in-laws that catches you off-guard, you frantically exclaim in your head, Not now! (Sigh ) Not again! You drag your body into the shower and scrape together some breakfast on your way out the door. Why is it so hard to get up every morning? Chances are, like millions of others you feel stuck doing something you never intended for yourself. Is it ever too late to hit the manual override button and change course? Id like to think not. That would be a truly sad proposition. Here are six ways to kick start your future here and now.
1. You must have a target. How will you get where you want to be, if you dont know where that somewhere is? The first step is to set goals. There is a saying that goes, the second we stop dreaming, our life is over. Goals are dreams written down. Brainstorm all of the things you like to do and write them down. You will not remember things that are not written down. Some activities like golf and bass fishing might be a stretch (note I didnt say impossible) for you to make a career out of. Other things like photography, writing, or gardening may be more realistic. Sure, some peoples passion is to manage others or make company policy, but too many people climb the corporate ladder until they run out of room, and realize they are not happy. They did not have a target to aim for.
2. You must have a map to reach your target. Alright. Get in your car now and drive to Roseau, Minnesota. What? You dont know how to get there? Ah, you need a map! So it is with any target. You need to know how youre going to get there. Again, grab your trusty pen and paper. Hopefully youve picked a target. If youre still not sure, you can make a roadmap for each of your remaining options to see which path is most intriguing. You will want to know everything that is involved in attaining to your new career. Do you need to go to school? What life experiences are essential? Will you require money upfront? How much? Do you see an immediate demand or can you create one? Contemplate the things that you must do to reach your target and set smaller goals along the way to keep you moving in the right direction. Write your plan down! Otherwise you will lose focus and stray.
3. Knowledge is key! We live in the information age. There are countless magazines, books, and websites stacked with knowledge. Thats not to mention the great number of colleges and universities across the country. All can enhance our learning. Some career choices may require we go back to school and pick-up new skills we would need to survive in a given field. Other choices are less structured, and can be pursued through less conventional means. Experts write books, magazine articles, and online articles in greater numbers than ever before. We can learn about travel, business, history, and other interests. To create a career in a less traveled discipline, one must be knowledgeable about their specific focus and business. Business involves methodology, marketing, planning, and many other facets. You will need to commit yourself to being a student the rest of your life in order to be at the top of your game. You must also be willing to learn from your mistakes in order to keep from repeating them. Education is the foundation of your future.
4. Its who you know We cant fight the good fight all on our own. We absolutely need to stay connected to others that are in our chosen field. Everybody brings something different to the table. In the music industry, I constantly must be speaking with other musicians, fans, record store owners, booking agents, and others that could have some role in helping my business to succeed. It is the same in any profession, whether you work for a huge conglomerate or you are a sole proprietor. People that have been around longer than you have more wisdom than that can only be bestowed upon you by someone who has been through it all and had already made the mistakes that you will eventually make. Networking can also get you access to a company, department, or industry that is difficult to break into. It can be intimidating at first, but it is impossible to be successful on your own. You need other people.
5. Theres no time like the present. Now that you have a target, a roadmap, some knowledge, and some connections, you need to put your plan into action. Words on a piece of paper prove nothing but that you have an idea. Action behind your words proves your genius. Imagine if Abraham Lincoln had written up the Emancipation Proclamation and never presented it, or if Cameron Crowe had written the screenplay for Almost Famous and no one followed the script. Both would have been a miserable failure. Action is what drives results. You need to do something for your business every day to push it forward. Never miss out on an opportunity. Never give in to fear. Someone once told me that opportunity knocks twice in life. You only have to ask yourself, is this the first time or the last? Now, I believe that smaller opportunities come along everyday, but weve got to learn to capitalize on them, or we wont move forward. I also believe that opportunities rarely happen as much as they are created. The harder you work, the more opportunities you create. Kick the door in. Dont wait for someone to open the door for you.
6. You must be willing to change. Ill keep this point simple. If things are not going the way you want and you have honestly followed these other steps, ask yourself some questions: Have I done everything I could? Are there gaps in my education? Are there people I dont know that I could get to know? Is my roadmap accurate? Is my target the right one? The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. You must change something in your process to get unstuck.
In conclusion, these six steps develop a vital state of mind to becoming successful in your life. If what you do for a living feels like work and you dread the thought of doing it for years to come, give yourself the kick you deserve and plan, act, and repeat. You will see your goals conquered one by one and will one day look down from the mountain, having achieved more than you ever thought possible. Be persistent and win!
*Jason Bradley is an independent musician, songwriter, and record producer. He is the singer/guitarist for melodic hard rock band Fastest Turbo Fire Engine based out of Minneapolis, MN. You can find out more and soothe your eardrums at www.fastestturbofireengine.com.