Going down the path less traveled in life, or choosing to go off the beaten path, however you like to say it, is not only difficult but can be incredibly intimidating. You’re trying to do something that no one else is doing (or maybe very few others). As a result, you may have little help or guidance, and there are few people who understand and can empathize with your struggles.
However, I’m all for going off the beaten path. Taking risks, choosing something different, and pushing your comfort zone, are all excellent ways to grow as a person and make a larger impact on the world, or even just on those around you.
Given that I’ve taken the path less traveled at almost every junction in my own life and career, I thought I’d share some of the pearls of wisdom that I’ve accumulated over the years. I hope this inspires anyone who’s considering taking the leap and willing to pursue career goals that venture off the beaten path.
How To Choose the Path Less Traveled
Branching off to do your own this doesn’t necessarily mean re-inventing the wheel. Sometimes it just means that you’re doing something different than everyone else you know.
For instance, maybe your family is full of doctors and engineers and you decide to become a journalist, or an actor or an artist of some sorts. Maybe everyone in your family works for the family business, and you want to branch out and do something on your own. Maybe you’re that crazy genius wanting to invent something or has an idea that no one else can visualize and all you want to do is bring it to fruition.
There are many ways to push your boundaries, create a new path for yourself, or beat down one that no one has even thought of yet. The biggest thing is deciding to go for it.
Don’t let the opinions of others hold you back
If you truly believe in the path you want for yourself, then you have to ignore people who tell you not to, or that you can’t. If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to at least try.
How to Stay Off The Beaten Path
Be prepared to work hard
There are no short cuts and there is no easy way to accomplish your goals, no matter what kind of path you’re on. However, traveling off the beaten path and creating a new one can actually be harder and take more work.
Prepare yourself for the mental, physical and emotional work that you’ll have to do in order to keep going. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it and knowing that you’ll have to truck through will make it easier for you to not give up.
Be prepared for obstacles and hurdles that others may not have to face
The road to success has struggles all over it, for everyone. Creating a new path though may bring new struggles that you’ve never had to deal with before. On top of that, when you’re doing something different than everyone else, it can be harder to ask for help or find people to help you.
Just remind yourself that it’s a part of the process. All of our struggles are there to teach us something new and to bring us closer to our vision of success.
Find a Mentor
Traveling off the beaten path may make finding a mentor difficult, but not impossible. Remember, this person doesn’t need to be in the same field or have done the same thing as you.
You just need to have a mentor who understands what it means to do something different, who is willing to listen and support you, understands your vision, and who is able to push you and make sure you don’t give up.
Remember Your Why
I sometimes think persevering is harder than starting. This is especially true once you start to encounter obstacles, or you don’t get the results you want right away.
You started down this road for a reason. Don’t lose sight of why you started. Remembering your why allows you to keep sight of the end goal you’re striving to achieve. You can do this via journaling, regular check ins with people you trust, and taking breaks to give yourself time to refocus and regain perspective.
Keep A Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is all about continuous learning and improving yourself. With each life lesson, or business or career lesson you learn, be sure to look inward. Give yourself some insight into who you are and who you’re becoming; be aware of your feelings at those moments. Because as you grow, things may change…and that’s ok. In fact, that’s great. Because growth is progress.
Be Prepared to Lose Friends
In addition to you changing, the people around you will change.
Some of this will come naturally because as you grow, the types of people you want to be with, and those that want to be with you, will shift.
It can hurt, and it can really suck when you lose people. As with any life-changing event though, you have to understand that some things happen for a reason. Not everyone who is in your life is meant to stay.
On the flip side, don’t hold on to people who don’t want to stay. I heard a talk once about this. One of the things that hold people back from progress is that they are afraid of letting go of the things, and people, that they have. If you imagine that the path you want to go on is through a door; you can’t take everyone and everything with you right? Sometimes in order to fit and make it work you have to go alone, or only with the things or people that matter most.
So don’t be afraid to lose; don’t be afraid to let go. Sometimes that’s the only way you can move forward.
Going off the beaten path; taking the path less traveled; creating your own road…these are all different ways of saying the same: doing something unique that no one has done before (or maybe very few).
The world needs people who take chances. It’s a brave choice to go off the beaten path and can be a difficult one to stick with. But if you have the ambition and the drive, you owe it to yourself to try and give yourself a chance to succeed in a way that only you will be able to.
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