Remember back in the day when it seemed like you and your friends walked around with a fire inside that no one could put out?
My friends and I had big plans and our arms were wide open to embrace them. When we graduated college with a degree, which while it seems to mean less and less these days, we were damn proud of it. A new chapter in our lives was beginning, and it only made sense that it would read with optimism, bring results, and lead to exciting cliff-hangers.
Lately, that fire has been dieing out. Some of us have stopped being the authors of our own books, and seem to be letting another narrator decide how the pages will be written.
It’s not lack of motivation or laziness. It’s just to many people the whole idea that life would be filled with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll is fading away. Suddenly, life is about making choices in which no options are favorable. It has become why we can’t do this because of that or why that won’t happen because of this.
Remember when you were 18? Those were the days we used to routinely sit around in each other’s living rooms and have wide-eyed talks about life and our views and our dreams.
We would say things like, “I want to travel the world, live in Paris, and volunteer in Africa” or “I want to be a writer and share my stories and ideas with the world and publish books and contribute to the New York Times” or “I want to go to Hollywood and follow in the footsteps of my mentor Stephen Speilberg” or “I want to save the planet by teaching people and businesses how to be Green”.
What we’re saying now is very different than what we said back then.
Now I just hear people saying things like, “Well this job has nothing to do with what I had planned for myself, but it pays okay and the benefits are good” or “I just don’t have the time or money to be unrealistic like that anymore” or “Well my 8th choice as a career path isn’t THAT random I guess…”
It Doesn’t Have to be like This
Maybe it’s because I’ve been gone in China this past year and I haven’t seen firsthand how bad things are. But you know what? I don’t really think that’s completely it.
I’m not denying that it’s tough out there. Hell, I’m in the same boat.
But, let me tell you what I think is happening to some of us: Suddenly, it’s much more acceptable to take the easier route. All I hear people talking about is how hard the job search is, how you need to take what you can get, how there are no other options.
And you know why? Going after your Big Plans is hard. And it’s scary. And now so many of us have this great excuse as to why we can’t do it. This lets us avoid something no one enjoys and everyone fears: failure.
Unfortunately, it also leaves us avoiding potential success and accomplishment, and a life that we can design custom for ourselves.
The status quo has literally become an overly acceptable pattern of this.
Keeping Your Big Plans
Look, I’m no perfect example. I’m guilty as charged of making excuses like these. I’m writing this as a message for myself as well.
We don’t have to let that fire die. We don’t have to be constantly stressed. We don’t have to be BLAH all the damn time. We don’t have to give off vibes that scream boredom and confusion.
We can still go after our Big Plans. We just need to be a little more creative in terms of how we go after them. We need to take some bigger leaps that seem far too big. We need to put ourselves out there.
Because it’s definitely not going to be easy. There will be huge challenges. And we will probably get our asses kicked along the way.
It may be that we need to make some sacrifices in other areas of our lives like moving or taking a paycut for a period of time. It may mean that it’ll take longer than we would have hoped. It may mean that people will look at you funny when you tell them what you’re trying to do because they won’t be able to relate.
It may mean a lot of those things, but it will also mean that you’re taking control of your life, who you are, and what you’re about.
Don’t Sacrifice Who You Are
We have to stay true to who we are. You have to stay in touch with yourself. You have to listen to yourself. We all have to stop bitching and avoiding and making excuses. We all need to start doing and believing and changing. We need to start talking about our Big Plans again as if they aren’t just silly, old ideas of the past, but the very thing that we’re moving towards and acting on today.
We need to remember what it’s like to be wide-eyed and excited about life again.
What were your big plans back in the day? Are you still chasing after them? It’s true – a degree isn’t worth as much and income opportunities are more scarce – what creative strategies have you used to create opportunities for yourself?