A Pragmatist’s Guide to Finding Your Calling

Years ago, I left my corporate job to create my own dream life. Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned along the way.

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Most jobs are no longer secure. Given the current crisis, with record unemployment in the United States and elsewhere, it’s more important than ever before to find a vocation that pays well and creates independence. Years ago, I left my corporate job to create my own dream life. Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned along the way.

My brand of success = hard work plus time

Timing for successful outcomes is uncertain. The hard part is being patient and persistent through uncertainty as you strive to reach your goals. You have to give yourself enough bats to hit a home run. The key here is to spend your time doing non-impossible things. Becoming a famous musician is nearly impossible – I’ve only seen it done by those who are born into the entertainment elite. I had to give that one up. Becoming great at sales and then entrepreneurship, on the other hand,  is not impossible. The cool thing is, you only really need to be right one time.

Pursue non-impossible goals that you’re passionate about

Pursuits that are almost impossible are ambitious. Pursuits that are actually impossible are crazy. Knowing the difference can take several failures to learn. Since hard work and spending time on non-impossible pursuits leads to success, it makes sense to pursue goals that you’re passionate about. The bright side is if you do something risky that you’re passionate about, you’ll have fun no matter what the outcome. If you don’t love your pursuits and do them just to make money, the outcomes won’t matter because you will be miserable most of the time. 

Being good at your job doesn’t guarantee you’ll make a lot of money doing it

There are rich designers and poor designers. Insert any profession and it works. Money-making ability is a separate skill from the industry-specific skills you leverage to make money. If your goal is making money then learn sales, marketing, negotiation, business strategy, and investment strategy. Then, apply it to your profession. If you’re still searching for your profession, find something that you’re passionate about and apply it to that.

You don’t need to be a genius

Examples: every inventor or business owner you’ve seen and said “anyone could have done that.” Well, yeah. Probably. But that “idiot” worked hard enough for long enough that it worked. There wasn’t anything technically impressive about Uber, Facebook, or Airbnb. They didn’t require anything special to get started. Hard work plus time until it became the right place and the right time. The Airbnb founders famously sold cereal boxes to pay the bills.

Overnight successes are a myth 

There are no excuses. Every day a bystander glimpses success out-of-context – on the news or in social media – and thinks it happened overnight. It didn’t. McDonald’s was famously an overnight success 30 years in the making. The founders must have loved serving people food. Pursuing a vocation that you hate – that’s impossible.

Originally published on Medium.

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