“You’ve got to be kidding!” I yelled as the rope attached to my line of carts decided it had enough and proceeded to disintegrate right before my eyes. It was another dreary day at the local grocery store I worked at and it was my turn to retrieve the carts from their designated corals in the parking lot. Of course, not everyone who shopped there was kind enough to leave their carts in these spots – there were plenty of wiseguys who decided it made sense to park them several miles away from civilization. One time, in fact, I led a team of “explorers” to the apartment complex down the street from the store in an effort to retrieve the dozens of carts that mysteriously managed to materialize in their parking garages. That escapade took the entire day to complete, and thankfully we all made it back alive with a few bruised egos and pieces of our souls scattered along the sidewalk.
Today was no exception, and I had spent what felt like an eternity gathering up all of the carts from curbs, parking spots, and corals before perfectly aligning them in a row of at least a dozen. The rope I was using had a hook at the end of it, and after expertly attaching it to the first cart in the row I began the grueling task of pulling the cart parade from the parking lot to the inside of the store. However, apparently, nobody told me that the particular rope I was using couldn’t handle holding the weight of a dozen shopping carts. Within seconds, my cart parade turned into a cart riot as they began barreling towards an unsuspecting parked car. Panicking, I sprinted towards the front of the row and barely stopped them before they managed to dent a very nice looking black Escalade.
I breathed a sigh of relief and looked up to see a myriad of faces staring at me as they got out of their cars and looked on with smirks on their faces. While I was certainly glad I could oblige them with a free slapstick comedy performance, I didn’t like the fact that it almost came at the cost of my job.
“I need a new job…” I thought to myself as I scrounged up what little dignity I had left and somehow finagled the rest of the carts into the store without a rope.
It was moments like these that gave me the gumption to begin looking for a different career than a grocery store cashier/cart wrangler. Having just graduated from my local community college and seeing all of my friends land great careers in their fields of study, I still had no idea what my aspirations were nor what it was that I truly wanted to do with my life. My degree was in Liberal Arts, but only due to the fact that nothing else stuck out to me and it was the most general degree I could find. With zero guidance, I hopped onto the internet to see what I could do with my life. One thing was for certain: I didn’t want to work a dead-end job for the rest of my life.
After several months of researching, trying out different programs, and getting scammed plenty by get-rich-quick schemes, I landed on a prospect that intrigued me the most: building websites for local businesses. After 3 months of teaching myself the basics of WordPress, I landed my first web design client through a friend. He worked with someone who needed a new website and gave me her contact information. This lady owned a local ballroom company and needed a new website since her current one was shabby and had zero online presence. She offered to pay me $1,000 to build her a brand new website, and I gladly obliged. I built her site in a month, and within 6 months she actually had visibility in Google thanks to the magic of SEO. She referred me to a few other people and kept working with me and paying me monthly. I was cashing checks left and right for $500-$2,000 a piece. I had never seen money like this before having only worked $10 an hour jobs my entire life up to that point – so needless to say I was gobsmacked at how much money was sitting in my bank account. After hustling for a year and a half as a web designer, I eventually quit my job at the grocery store and landed a fantastic career in digital marketing at a multi-billion dollar company and have worked there full-time as an SEO consultant while I continue to build my side hustle.
If you feel like you’re in a dead-end job whether you’re fresh out of college or in your 40’s, you don’t have to settle. There are so many opportunities out there waiting to be taken by people like you. I’m a firm believer that hard work trumps talent and I think my story is a testament to that. I had zero inclination toward marketing or web design until a few years ago and now I find myself in this industry and could not be happier. I got here because I made the decision to change my present situation and worked hard over a long period of time to change it. That’s the secret I don’t think people like to hear because it’s not sexy and doesn’t mesh well with our desire for instant gratification: success in anything comes through working hard and being patient. That’s it. Time plus hard work equals success. While I’m not denying it’s more difficult for some to better their living situation than others, and luck is certainly a factor for many, this simple principle of time plus hard work makes it possible for anyone to succeed in life – not just monetarily, but emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
So the question is not can you change your present situation – but will you?