Most stories told in this context go something like this:
This is what my life was like… #humblebrag, #notsohumblebrag, #ohmygoshstopbraggingalreadywegetit
But then this massive thing happened – losing my job, getting injured, failing super hard – and I was like “man, now I know what I have to do. I know what I want.
But getting that thing is hard!
Like, super hard! Then even harder, then hard to the point where I had to make a decision, one way or another…
But in that moment of decision, that’s when I realized what I wanted isn’t what I needed.
But we’re not here to talk about me. I want to talk about you. My whole career as a creative is littered with those stories, but none of them are interesting enough to use in this context right now, nor are they that helpful. #humblebrag
Here’s what’s pertinent though: Throughout every one of my life experiences, I knew what I was capable of, and I’m guessing you do too.
You work harder than anyone you know. You have ideas every day that could turn into an incredible project, or business, or work of art.
You’re curious in that you enjoy learning something new, discovering a new way to do things, proving to yourself that you can do something you’ve never tried before.
You want to do big things, you just haven’t been able to figure it out yet. Or maybe you’ve even started on that path but now you’re at a fork in the road and aren’t sure which way to go.
Based on the conversations I have with other creatives who I talk with on a regular basis, you’re also tired of being told you’re too young, or too female, or too inexperienced.
You see the flaws in the systems – or lack of systems – at work, but when you try to find a better way you’re shut down.
No one understands your potential and so you can’t be rewarded for your potential. You’ve been passed over, or fired, or unerestimated and are sick and tired of it.
We’ve all been there. (I’ve been there on more than one occasion.)
But you also don’t know how to change it, and that’s even more frustrating than knowing what to do and not being able to do it.
In my experience, you’ve got three options, only one of which works.
Option 1: You could do nothing.
You could figure out how to live with your situation.
After all, you’re getting paid, you have work, you shouldn’t be complaining, right? Plenty of others have suffered through much worse to provide for their family or make a living, so do you even have a good reason for being discontent and upset?
But that sucks.
Yes, at some point, you have to provide for your family however you can. I’ve sold cars, I’ve taken on clients that I never thought I’d work with, so I get it. But I also didn’t want to do that forever.
You could call that a very privileged stance, and I apologize for that, but I honestly believe that for most people, privileged or otherwise, there are more options available to us than we realize, we just have to be willing to pursue those other options. Will it be harder for some? Yes. Will it be hard for everyone? Absolutely.
Option 2: You could figure out a hack.
I call this the hustler mentality.
Now, the concept of hustle when talking about work ethic is one thing. Here I’m talking about the mindset of hustling – doing as little as possible and expecting huge returns in record time.
Regretfully, I’ve been here too. I’ve bought courses I never finished, read books on how to rapidly accomplish some goal, learned and implemented tactics and hacks for everything from losing weight to gaining weight to SEO to financing a movie.
You don’t have to ask me how any of those things turned out because I have nothing to show for them.
A hustler sees the world as a game. They feel like if they just learn the hack, or the trick, or the shortcut then all of their problems will be solved.
They also focus more on the external signs of success – things like followers, subscribers, dollars, cars and clothes, fame and fortune.
There’s not a ton of pride in the work they do because what they do could change at any moment based on what’s trendy or hot or new.
They probably blogged before, started a business before, worked a job before, have done everything they can to get ahead and strike it rich.
Oh, I can keep going, because I’m basically describing a past version of myself!
I was an opportunity seeker, constantly looking for anything that resembled work. I was focused on money and not much else. I tried to do it all myself, then when I added a business partner I still tried to do it all myself.
I spent thousands of dollars on magic bullets that I thought would crack the code for me – conferences, coaches, courses, you name it.
I had no strategy. No long term outlook. No systems to ease the burden.
I spent all of my time searching for the next bit of information that surely was going to make everything magically work. I had tons of information in my head, but my actions weren’t putting any of that knowledge into practice.
It’s painful just writing that out again. I didn’t know it at the time but WOW that sucked.
It wasn’t the kind of life I wanted.
Now, there’s a third option for those who think a little differently than the hustler, and (#humblebrag) it only took me like a decade to finally figure it all out…