An awful lot of people are waiting for external signals to get going. “I can’t develop business as an associate – if only the partners would help me, or at least make me Of Counsel.” “There’s no point in writing a blog if no one will read it.” “I’m not going to go to a conference about archaeology, because archaeology is just a thing I like, it’s not my job.”
Isn’t it amazing that so many of us need so much prodding to take even a single step towards what we want?
But here’s the deal: no one cares about your dreams more than you do. And it is axiomatic that no one is going to facilitate your dreams clairvoyantly, when you don’t even voice them, or worse, when you don’t even articulate them to yourself.
Your boss isn’t going to insist that you take a month’s vacation to climb Kilimanjaro. An acquisition editor isn’t going to stop you on the street and beg you to send her your manuscript (especially considering that you haven’t written one yet).
A while ago, I was paralyzed by my if-only-the-world-would-help-me fantasies to the point of employing a career coach. A few months of moping, and my coach had had enough. “You are your own cavalry. Go carpe the damned diem!” he barked.
Even though I parted ways with him for his insensitivity, my coach’s advice must have made a dent, because I began doing some cool things without even noticing. Which snowballed into even cooler things. Like writing and publishing a novel. And touring Iceland on horseback (turns out, I literally was my own cavalry!). And moving to a different city. And launching my own business.
“seize” is the operative term in “seize the day.” It’s not “ask whether it’s OK if you, maybe, like, think about doing something interesting later this afternoon.” And it’s not “wait until someone tells you when and where you should consider taking action.”
You may think that being a sober professional dictates that you set aside your dreams, as one does with all childish things. But if you don’t acknowledge and give some space to what you actually want, this want will fester inside you and interfere with your “real” life. That’s not a winning formula.
Finally, if all of the above doesn’t sway you to get started on something you want to do; if you still need permission from some random person whose opinion is entirely peripheral to your life and success, here it is – I’m telling you: GO!!