It's my birthday today. I was going to keep it a secret, because I have this wistful desire to be greeted only by people who know when my birthday is without Facebook telling them when. But that's unfair isn't it? Everyone is too busy, too souped up with tons of other more important information than my birthday.
So, thank you in advance for the greetings! I appreciate that you took the time to acknowledge the day I popped out of my mum's belly - literally. Cesarean section. (If you ask me you should greet my mother instead, she got the tough end of the stick that day - not me! Level unlocked for her! I'm the first-born.)
When my clients and business contacts first find out I'm only this age, they ask me "You're so young! How are you able to pull this off?" That's not verbatim but I know that's what they want to know. I'm not rich or famous, okay, but I would like to think that I enjoy a modest amount of success at 25.
I learned a few things along the way. Here's my advice on how to be where you want to be. (Cliches may or may not be included.)
Do what you love best. Do it now. One of the scariest things I've done so far was quitting my first (and only) full-time job after only eight months. I was only 22, I haven't paid my dues, I didn't know if I could make it as a freelancer since I wasn't acquainted with many people who could give me projects then. But I felt nothing towards my desk job. I had to drag my feet to the office everyday!
Now I like a lot of things, but there is one thing that I'm passionate about: writing. I'm a good writer. I'm not gonna win any Pulitzers but I sure as hell know how to write copy and engaging blog posts! Everything else sort of flowed from that talent, such as my grasp of social media and conceptualizing marketing ideas.
I suggest you look at yourself. I mean really look at yourself without any false modesty or fear of failure. What's your passion? Chances are, the thing you're truly passionate about is something you do amazingly well. It could be a keen business sense. Applying makeup. A knack for embalming dead bodies. Painting a mural with your own lips. I don't know! But you should know, and you should continue to hone that talent and put yourself out there. People always acknowledge and admire real passion. Show them what you've got!
You don't need to drop your full time job to follow your heart, but my advice is, if your job is standing in the way of the next big step you want to take then leave it. I know it's not that simple since we all have obligations to answer for. But if you can afford to and there's a chance that you can make it in a field that you're truly passionate about...just do it. Go. You will miss 100% of the opportunities you didn't take.
Visualize and plan. Okay so now you know what you want to do. How do you make it sustainable? What's the plan? You have to have a specific goal, steps to achieve that goal, and a plausible timeline. Here's an example:
General: I love dogs! I love spending time with dogs!
Specific: I want my own doggie day care service up and running in three months.
Step 1: Clear out the garage. Throw away anything that suspiciously looks like it might be supporting a primitive civilization.
Step 2: Set up the space. Buy dog food, water bowls, leashes, electric fans, and a holding pen.
Step 3: Draw up a menu of services and price list.
Step 4: Call up relatives and blackmail them into bringing their dogs to my day care. Give them a 20% discount on the first visit! Then blackmail them again so they would tell their friends to bring their dogs too.
And so on.
Surround yourself with people who would help you up. Not in a social climber sense. I'm talking about people who who motivate you to be the best version of yourself, because they're aiming for the same thing as well. Be with friends and romantic partners who have high goals, big dreams. If you hang out with slackers then whether you like it or not you will acquire some of their habits. If you're always with negative people who are mean and complain all the time, then you'll be doing the same thing (if you haven't already).
Slacking and negativity are just some of the unproductive things we indulge in; they're natural and sometimes beneficial as long as we keep them to a minimum. But if you indulge everyday then you're wasting a lot of your time and potential! Before you know it, you're 35 and you're barely ahead of the point where you started.
The bottomline: choose your relationships wisely. Maintain them to the best of your ability.
Have a good role model. Other than my mother, my role model is Nelly See, the owner of Pinkbox. She has five kids, stays beautiful at 40, has an active social life (more active than mine even!) - and runs her successful business on top of all that! She is gracious, graceful, and kind. :) She's the person I want to be as I grow older.
A role model will serve as the main positive influence in your life. He or she will inspire you to reach for better things and keep you anchored whenever you doubt yourself. If you're lucky enough, you might even be mentored! It's important to have someone like this in your life whether or not you know your role model personally.
Absorb as much information and inspiration as possible. Read as many books, watch as many movies, play as many games and music as you can. Synthesize the skills and concepts you absorb to further improve your existing abilities. (If you play RPG it's just like getting a boost after you pick up a grimoire or almanac or music sheet).
Believe. This is the cheesiest but the second most important advice I can give you (the first being to follow your passion). :) You have to believe that your plan to achieve your dream will come true. Everyone else can doubt you - your friends, your family, your partner - but you can't afford to doubt yourself. Sure you can wallow for a couple of days after a terrible blow (it will come), but you have to snap out of it and move on.
I can't guarantee you'll succeed. You also have to honestly recognize when to re-consider your approach. But keep trying for as long as you can, and have faith in the beauty of your plans.
When I started out I only had my education, my skills, and my ambition. I had no connections. I didn't ask money from my parents after my first salary (about four weeks after I graduated). Still, I was able to make something of myself. I hope to do more things in the future, of course, but for now I am exactly where I planned to be.
If I can do it, then you sure as hell can. You owe it to yourself to at least try.
Happy birth day to my mom!