Growing up, most of us imagined ourselves in a bunch of different roles and careers. We fantasized of being astronauts, explorers, actors, law enforcement officials, doctors, lawyers, and everything in between. We played with toys and dolls and reinacted scenarios where we achieved great feats, got the bad guy, explored other planets, and made it onto Broadway. The options were only as limited as our imaginations.
What happened? Why did we ever stop dreaming?
We got a little older and were told to grow up. We were informed we could never rise to such lofty expectations that we had as children. Good luck with that kid, why don't you go to school and get a real job! Be like your father, and go to work at the factory. This assimilation of thoughts seems proposterous, but it is the reality of the generation before us. Perhaps, career choices were not limited to specific trades or manual labor, but it was modern day practice to secure yourself a career position, start a family, own a piece of property, and work to pay it off and then die, occasionally taking a vacation break a couple weeks a year.
As with everything in life, moderation is key; like a pendulum, imbalance will manifest when weight is distributed unevenly on either side. To daydream and imagine a fantasy world is all well and good; however, simply wishing and hoping is useless and a waste of time.
YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO
Yes, and no. An indomitable spirit is an essential characteristic to posess when plowing through life and conquering your goals; that much is undeniable. An intense work ethic compliments the first asset marvelously; and lastly, consistency and perseverance combine to create a trifecta of success. Or do they?
The truth is, we could be the hardest-working, smartest people in the room. Day after day, we bust our assess- remaining patient, yet eagerly awaiting results. But they don't come
We always tinker with the formula, discovering ways to improve efficiency and productivity. Sometimes we literally do everything in our power to move forward. Exhausting our resources, we become more frustrated, digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a hole.
... OR CAN YOU?
Maybe you have a passion for painting. You eat, breathe, and sleep painting and the thoughts about it consume your mind. It is your happy place. When you paint, time evaporates as you stroke the bristle against the paper, creating art with your very fingers. You dream of being a blossoming artist, with your illustrations displayed at exhibits and conferences worldwide.
The only catch is.. you suck at painting.
No matter how hard you try, your drawings look like a child scribbled with a crayon. Nobody would pay a dime to put that junk in their living room.
Some people are born with talents- others, not so much. In a previous post we explore the concept of improving the things you're already good at, and becoming great at them, versus improving your skills from bad to mediocre.
So, if you suck at painting, yet have aspirations of becoming the next Van Gogh, what are you to do?
Realistically, if you are 100% honest with yourself, you may never make a penny painting on your canvas. This isn't to say that you cannot still pursue your passions- but as for the phrase "make your passion your paycheck"- that's just not in the cards for some. It almost sounds superfluous to say that such a circumstance could potentially be your reality, but it is absolutely true for some people. What is more true than that, however, is...
LIFE ISN'T FAIR
Luck is an interesting thing. It is viewed superstitiously like black cats in alleys and walking underneath ladders. A lot of people refuse to accept luck as a thing. I don't believe in luck, mutter those individuals. I create my own destiny.
While you personally have an enormous role in dictating your own progress, you cannot escape the fact that luck does exist. Some people just end up at the right place at the right time. The equation that some would use is:
Preparation + opportunity = success
So many people work hundreds of hours, with little to no return on investment. They grind away, crafting their skills as their peers proceed to go to social outings and various entertainment venues. A tedious, montonous, and repetitive routine is set in stone, as they chip away at transforming their vision into reality. Maybe- just maybe- they will be graced with a brief second of opportunity.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison
Again, the cold hard truth is this: some people just get lucky. They receive opportunities that others dont. Take into consideration the people born in the United States. We live in a country with limitless opportunities to further our career and build our empires. The majority of us have access to modern accommodations, job opportunities, and the ability to fail and restart an endless amount of times. Those born and raised in third-world countries, not so much. We often don't recognize this as an opportunity because we are so accustomed to it- but at the end of the day, that's exactly what it is.
YOUR CIRUMSTANCES DICTATE YOUR OUTCOME
For in-depth, real world examples of this, look no further than Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers:
It's not what you know- but who you know.
Surrounding yourself with influential, ambitious individuals gives you a foot in the door, per-se. Your network determines your net worth. You are the sum of the 5 closest people you surround yourself with. Insert a bunch of other inspiring quotes here; they all mean the same exact thing.
Your friends, your environment, the time and date you were born, the state of current affairs- all of these circumstances dictate your ability to "make it" in the world. Like it or not, that's just the way it is.
AND THAT'S THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES
We cannot all be astronauts, celebrities, rockstars, or congressmen and women. But that's not an invitation to allow others' disbelief to permeate our consciousness. We have the right to dream; it is our responsibility to be slightly realistic, though. If we can't sing, play an instrument, or put on a performance.. we're not going to be rockstars. Plain and simple. It all recycles back to the beginning- find the couple things you're pretty good at, and master them. This allows us to express our individuality and give our unique gift to the world in an infinite abundance.