Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't Wait

I had a conversation with someone the other day. She was depressed. She wondered, What will do? How will I do it? How can I do anything? I can not do anything. She’s twenty-one years old and doesn’t know which direction her life is going.

Listening to her grief, I thought of my self when I was that age – actually, for most of my early twenties I worried about such things, sometimes sinking into a deep fatalistic depression. I let her vent her fears and concerns for a while and tried to turn her in the direction of a little less self-pity and a little more action.

“You’re still young,” I told her, “you don’t have to know what you’re going to be when you grow up. Don’t worry, it will come to you.”

It’s not very easy to accept such advice. It puts a lot of faith on something that no one can back up without the passage of time. I tried a different, more tangible tactic to help my friend pull herself out of her self-inflicted malaise.

She doesn’t know what she wants to do. That’s ok. There are plenty of times in life when we don’t know what we are going to do next. Eventually, the idea will come and it is at that time we must act. Which brings me to the title of today’s entry, DON’T WAIT.

When we are not sure of what we will do next, that is not the time to sit and wonder what we will do next. Obsessing on our own confusion gets us no where other than more deeply entrenched in our own confusion. It serves only to make us feel worse and make arriving at a decision a painful waiting experience.

Of course, if you don’t confront your problems, they will never be resolved. However, once confronting our problems becomes the problem itself, then it is time to focus our attention elsewhere and allow time – and our subconscious genius – to work out a suitable solution.

I told my friend to table her worries of what will she do and focus instead on how she will do. Worrying about what you will be when you grow up is not helping.

I suggested to her, “Instead of worrying, why don’t you learn how to succeed first.”

The expected blank look came to her face. People all around the world do not know of this method, however, it is viable and very effective. Learn how to succeed and you will succeed at whatever you choose. The secret of succeeding is not a matter of getting lucky or having the right contacts. The secret is to teach oneself how to set goals and achieve them. Be warned, though, learning how to succeed starts small and is greatly reliant on setting realistic goals.

Twenty-one years old. Don’t know what to do. Don’t know how to do it. Can’t do anything. It seems like a very short dead end street to me. But look over there, not too far off this path is another path. A path begging to be explored. It’s a path where specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based (SMART) goals can be set and reached Set your sights low at first. I will make sure all my bills are paid and all my accounts are up to date each Friday for the next two months. Maybe that’s too aggressive. For five consecutive days, I will wake up each morning before 9:00 am and make at least one phone call to a prospective employer. Eventually, your goals will become more complex as you master setting and achieving goals. Then you will be prepared to do what you want to do when you grow up.

It’s not so much a matter of what your goals are. It’s more a matter that you train yourself to set smart goals, approach them with clarity and determination and recognize the rewarding feeling of accomplishing what you said you would do. It’s a very useful technique for strengthening the success muscles. Something I wish I had learned twenty years earlier. Something I wished I knew about when I was sitting around, feeling sorry for myself, wondering what I would be when I grow up. I could have been spending that time teaching myself how to succeed so that once I figured out what I would do, I would have some experience in achieving my goals.