Being that it’s Monday and the start of a new week, and you no doubt are starting to get a clearer idea of the reality of employment at the moment, I think it’s time I asked you one very simple question: what do you really want? Don’t answer straight away (but if you have thought about it already and have the answer, well done!), but really think about it in terms of your whole life. What do you want out of your career? Your family life? Your health? Your hobbies? Your life in general? I bet there’s at least one, more likely a couple of those that you can’t answer.
That’s ok, but it’s time to start thinking about it. The reason I ask is that so many people I know have lives that indicate they might not even have the answer to any of those questions. Ask anyone how they typically spend their days and you will find out very quickly if there is anything particularly important to a person and where their life is headed. People will generally take the path of least resistance in life, because striving for something more is hard. It’s a constant battle against mediocrity which so often takes the form of sitting down after you get home, cracking open a wine or beer and vegetating in front of the television. If that’s what you actually want out of life, then continue on and don’t let me stop you. Unfortunately for many, this path ultimately makes for little satisfaction and the feeling at a certain age that life has passed you by.
I know A LOT of people who constantly complain that they don’t get promoted at work, that their life is boring, that they are always tired. All you have to do is look at their schedule to work out the problem. They stay up late watching television or playing games, and don’t get adequate sleep. They eat like crap. They spend their work day going through the motions, thinking that competence should equal promotion. Newsflash – you have to do a bit more. That age old saying “you get out of it what you put into it”, is absolutely true. If you want something in your life, the more you put into getting it the sooner you will attain it. You’re not going to get the things you want out of life by sitting back and waiting for them to happen, you have to go out and get them.
Now it’s time for the second question – what are you actually doing to reach your goals that you laid out with question 1? If you want six pack abs, do you have a plan laid out to get you there? If you want to travel Europe, do you have a budget that is going to make that happen? If you want to make upper management in your company, do you have a career plan that includes all the necessary things like networking, courses, mentors and professional development? Just going through the motions, it isn’t going to cut it. Sure, you’ll advance and get better in whatever field you choose, but it’s going to be slower and more haphazard than if you lay it out step by step (or in baby steps) with clear, short term goals.
Only you can craft the life you really want (and don’t ever let anyone else tell you what sort of life you should have), and it starts with actually working out what that is. Be realistic about it – if you really want to be an astronaut, you better be damn sure you’re willing to devote a decade or two to get there. There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but you need to be sure you actually want to get to each step in the process. If you do want to be an astronaut but you hate maths and can’t imagine doing a degree in engineering or science, forget about it, all you really want is the cool end result.
So use this Monday to start your week off right and work out what you really want out of life. Make a plan to get there, and get stuck into it today, because time waits for no man (or woman), and every day is a day closer to your death.