Not a day goes by that I do not look on some form of social media and see a big, bold ‘Quote of the Day’ beaming back at me, full of hope and promise. It’s usually along the lines of:
“Seize every moment.”
“Follow your dreams”
“Take chances others will not.”
These quotes are likely to be encircling a picture of a fist-pumping baby, or a cat which will not let go of the branch. The whole thing, I assume, is meant to give us the last bit of support we need to follow our dreams.
However, when I recently left work to write (hopefully full time) instead of getting a slap on the back and “you go gett’em girl“, which the land of social media had been promising me all along, I got a whole heap of digging questions:
“What, so you…OK… how are you going to earn money doing that?”
“Oh, well, good luck, but there’s lots of talented writers out there.”
“Like J K Rowling?”
It’s a situation that happens over and over again. Idealistic, faraway dreams shared with family, friends and co-workers will have their undivided support (usually at a bar, around 1am, when the shots have dried up and the conversation turns deep). They may even crack out a ‘You Won’t Know Until You Try’ piece of wisdom. However, when reality strikes, they will be the first in line to say: “be realistic, darling.”
So, why is this? Why do we dream and share quotes and idealise life when we will never take the leap? And why do we brand those who do jump as ‘foolish?’
Walter Murimi says:
‘The thing is that when you become successful, your friends (with whom you were previously ranting about how hard it is to start a business) will not have any excuse to give when they ask themselves why they are not successful too. And they will feel bad about themselves.’
Statistics show that you will only be as successful as your five best friends. Ignoring the money side of things for a momement – have a think about the people closest to you – are they in jobs that they want/are happy to be in? Have they ventured out of the “employee” to “employer” spectrum? And the big question – will they support you in your life choices?
When I was at school, education in the UK did not teach entrepreneurship as part of the curriculum. Both of my parents worked for a company and the idea of having your own business or pumping money into your own venture was…foolish.
Working for someone else gave you security. It meant that your bills got paid every month. It meant that you didn’t have to put a shed-load of capital down on an uncertain gamble. It meant that when you came home at 6pm, you could forget about work.
Yes, we had family friends who had their own businesses and they seemed wealthy and content. But they were also working at 9pm at night, being the Sales Man, the Marketing Man and the Finance Man all in one. Oh, and also, the gross majority of small business owners that I knew were men.
But the work-life balance is changing for everyone. The majority of my friends have work phones and are emailing at 8…9…10pm at night. They have to catch up on a Saturday. They have to prove themselves every day – and this additional work doesn’t affect their wage packet whatsoever.
So, if you’re sick of the rat race and you want a change – what do you do if you want to be successful? Should you not tell anyone your dreams and then appear, full of hope and pink like a new born baby? Art Markman says just that:
Identity goals are goals that ultimately influence a person’s concept of who they are. Careers choices are one kind of identity goal, but committing to a hobby, to being a good parent, or to taking on a volunteer or charity position may also be identity goals.
…when people announce an intention to commit to an identity goal in public, that announcement may actually backfire. Imagine, for example, that Mary wants to become a Psychologist. She tells Herb that she wants to pursue this career and that she is going to study hard in her classes. However, just by telling Herb her intention, she knows that Herb is already starting to think of her as a Psychologist. So, she has achieved part of her identity goal just by telling Herb about it. Oddly enough, that can actually decrease the likelihood that Mary will study hard.
So…uh-oh… have I really gone and shot myself in the foot by brandishing my goals on a blog?
Irrespective of whether you choose to tell people what you want to do as a career, to be successful, you must be motivated to succeed whatever the odds. Walt Disney, Donald Trump (hissss) and MC Hammer are amongst hundreds of well known entrepreneurs who became bankrupt before finally making their fortunes. J K Rowling famously got rejected for publication ‘loads’ before a publisher took her little book about Harry Potter on.
Consider the above situations for a second – how easy would it have been to give up if you became bankrupt? Would self-doubt have set in after the tenth rejection letter?
So whether your idea of success is money in the bank and a yacht in the sea, the ability to work from home, or the desire to get your little blog up and running, I wish you all the success in the world. But… maybe don’t tell everyone what you’re up to. And, to leave you with a cringe-worthy quote, believe in yourself.