The Successful Mindset
Working in an IT or office environment vs pursuing your passions. There are two parts to this. My mindset back then and the influence of my experience looking back now. There are forces that help you do your job and those against. Two things to keep in mind, that can operate like an “escape” hatch, if you start to feel lost. One, the job you are in may not be the one for you, and that’s ok. Two, your personality might not line up with the requirements of a full-time job, that’s ok too. There is an important distinction to keep in mind. Just because you aren’t employed or working “full-time” doesn’t mean you aren’t working or contributing.
Our culture, specifically middle class culture, emphasizes “working hard” for an employer. This is necessary. Now, I’m not contradicting myself! It’ is necessary to submit in some form or another while providing something of value to a person or organization. If you are on the path of a traditional artist working on commissions, to some extent, you are submitting to your patrons. If you are self employed, you submit to your clients. Submission is a part of psychological well being.
The idea is, in whatever situation you find yourself in, is to find out what you are passionate about. When you are young, you might not have found this yet. That’s ok. You will. You know you’ve found it when you automatically do what you do, to the best of your ability. You won’t be satisfied with anything less than your best.
Now here is where the conflict comes in. When you are set on doing your best and you put yourself in an environment where your coworkers are a group of people that are there as a “job/career”, then you are going to have a bad time. At the very least, your going to short change the prospects you have at being great at your passion and run into a ton of frustration.
The IT culture strongly believes in evolution. Meaning, there is this pervasive belief that their efforts will “evolve” into better and better result over time. The idea that the future will be better than the past, all because we want what’s good.
This is antithetical to my beliefs. Wisdom and understanding is required if you want to do something great. It doesn’t happen because we tried hard or tried smart or tried a dozen times. At the very least you have to understand the question put before you. Most people don’t get that far, they believe one or more of a number of sayings or “truths” which I believe to be in the same category as “old wives tales”. Among those being, “the opinion or judgement of a large group of people is more likely to be correct than a small groups”, “hard work pays off”, “people with a college degree and degrees in accordance with institutional prestige will be able to accomplish more and think clearly”.
What I believe to be one of the most important things to consider when undertaking any problem or difficult question is, do you understand the problem? Do you understand the question? In my experience, usually the answer is no. Understanding the problem is just as important and can be even more difficult than finding the answer. The problem you are trying to resolve might just be a symptom or a shadow of the actual problem. The question you are trying to answer might not be well formed, it might be based on false information, false assumptions or bad reasoning. If you can *really* answer questions and solve problems then the world just opened up to you.
The next thing you need is confidence. And that comes with experience.
Once you’ve identified your passion, the main thing is to stick to it. Don’t compromise on your vision.
Getting through tough times.
Most likely, at some point in your life, things will be tough. It might be a set of requirements from your job and family will have you in a tug of war. And one always suffers while the other prospers. Or it might be that no matter what you do, there isn’t enough money to go around.
In many cases, challenges like these which are close to home, aren’t related to external factors, though they may immediately and incontrovertibly seem so. Seemingly intractable problems which impact you emotionally and mentally most often are part of a personality trait or pathological nature.
You don’t seem to be able to change it because it’s you. It appears to manifest itself as one or more external factors because that is the only way it can manifest, short of psychosomatic symptoms. They are literally the projection of your psyche into the physical and social world. Therefore, as you may have experienced, they are by nature intractable. To resolve such issues, you must focus your efforts inward. You must understand why you do what you do.
Focus on one point objectives.
You must have an idea for what direction you are going. Whether that’s a new job with a higher salary, a promotion or a career change. It has to be clearly defined. It needs to be something you visualize constantly, we’re talking once an hour or more. OCD in this case helps. Remember, this vision is the major goal for this chapter in your life. Not the weekly or monthly goal. It’s going to be something that you are going to feel the payoff when you achieve, whether it’s emotional, financial or both.
Like a man going into a maze you need to lay out some string so that you know where you are going and how you got there. At the beginning of the week, Sunday, write down what you want to have accomplished by that Friday evening. Then lay out your plans for each day, only including the tasks needed to meet Fridays objectives.
As the week progresses, record in your journal, the events of each. Even if you think they are mundane. Record your feelings and any illness. As you do this over the course of a few months, go back each week and review, on those Friday evenings. Make note on if you were able to achieve your objectives. It’s ok if you didn’t. It’s not ok to not know why.
Maybe you were too ambitious. If so, break up the tasks into smaller pieces, maybe a week is not long enough for your goals. Split it up and then revisit. Maybe your goal for the week was not specific enough. If you put down your goal was to have 5000 dollars, did you have the steps needed to make each dollar? If not, then how can you achieve that goal, even on an infinite timeline? Find out who makes that much a week, look at their life and see if that’s something you want and can do. Spend time with people who are where you want to be.
If you’re at ground zero. Start with the basics. How much do you need for rent, for transportation and for food? You have to eat before anything else, so budget that first, before anything is spent, set that money aside. What I did was, I made a two week plan, which coincided with my pay period. On payday I would buy what my family would need for the two weeks. In order for the plan to work, I knew it had to be simple. An example list would be, 20lbs of ground beef (I would freeze 1lb amounts), 20 2 liter bottles of soda, 20 hamburger helper boxes (they were usually on sale for 1 dollar). That would fill out the basics for about 60 bucks. The price of ground beef can vary widely, so make sure to check all your local grocers. Anything else, like deserts, could be added as could be afforded. The idea was to first make sure you don’t starve. I only had $1600 a month to work with so I had to be thrifty. That grocery list already claimed $120. Rent was $720. Gas for the month was about $80.
Mentally getting through situations.
Most likely what you are working to achieve will not look like whatever everyone around you is doing. When you see them getting rewards and the lifestyle you want before you do is going to sometimes feel crushing. It can fuel self-doubt, depression and hopelessness. You might start to second guess your decisions and think that maybe you are doing the wrong thing. Reflection and evaluation are great and really important but there is a difference between that and a lack of self-confidence in your own decisions. Think about all the times you worked late, hard for others. All the times you denied yourself the rest you needed to make sure you got that day in at work. Or that you spent time working late because your boss, coworker or classmate asked you for help. Now turn those eyes on you. Why wouldn’t you treat yourself this way. Are your ideas and wishes less valuable than your peers? Do you really believe you don’t deserve to have your own voice heard in the world?
I spent many hours for years riding buses each day to get to where I needed to go. If I needed to go to the bathroom on one of those trips it meant another hour to wait for another bus if I did get off. In the heat, in the rain, in the cold. I would watch the traffic, people driving by in their cars and wonder when I would have my own car. I would think how comfortable they look in their climate controlled environment. With the luxury to even be eating and drinking whatever they choose while on the move. Even the people with poor vehicles with no A/C, at least they didn’t have to wait for the bus.
At many points, I didn’t think I would ever be able to afford a car. The people around me and my family implied that somehow I wasn’t competent enough, that I didn’t have the skills to command a salary that would pay for those things. But I kept the vision in focus and worked the task at hand.
In many ways, the tough part for me has been feeling less than others. But of course, it all has do with what where your mental focus is. In the cases where I struggle, I’m thinking about how what I have is less than others. No college degree, no special reputation, always behind in bills, not able to do or provide what I would like. But the way to success is to focus on the vision. When I do that, all I think about are the components needed to fulfill it. When it was about becoming a manager, I needed to be able to hold the image of a business operation in my head. Meaning, I needed to be able to see all the components working together, all their dependencies and interdependent parts. When I was going to get an IT career, I needed to be able to understand how computers and software worked. It may come down to making sure your mind is not idle and use it productively.
Taking time for yourself to recharge.
You are the only person who is in charge of you. Most people wait for someone else to give them a promotion, say yes to a relationship otherwise grant them success. Knowing that you are in charge is the only way you will be able to be successful. Part of managing success is knowing when downtime is needed and knowing when to say no to prospective opportunities.
Most people look at regular income as something that has occurred in the future, which is why they feel secure about their future when they have full time employment. The truth is, that isn’t secure. Still, people imagine that their income will continue. Because of this, if they miss a day or two or more, they see that as money lost. This is not true. It’s money that doesn’t exist. The reverse *is* true. Everyday you’ve worked, counts as income, not future work. Future work doesn’t exist. I can’t say that enough times. If you make 100 bucks this month and 50 bucks next month, those are still positive numbers of income you earned. You didn’t lose 50 dollars the second month. You *made* 50.
That’s not to say you might have obligations that exceed that 50 bucks. That doesn’t change the fact that you haven’t lost anything. It does mean that maybe you need to rethink your financial situation.
You must make sure that your income is always greater than you need. I can say this all day too. You might think that idea is a given, no it’s not. People don’t live their lives that way. They live for the moment. What is the most I can sacrifice now and in the future to have a good time or be comfortable or to buy this cool item.
The only way you will have control over your life and be able to take the time off you need and want is to make sure that income is always greater than need. Think about the lifestyle you need and want to have, total up the cost of those expenses for a year. Then total up your expected income. Don’t forget to deduct 25 percent for savings.
With that aside and having the state of mind to take what you need, you will be able to set aside your time off with no problems.
An important exception to this rule is if you are working at something you are not passionate about, then you need to get that straightened out first. If anyone tells you that no one likes their job but they have to do it, don’t listen to them. Those people are lost.
You know you. When you can see a full-time job as an obligation to someone and that is an obligation that you must be compensated for, then you are on your way. Wait, you might say, don’t I already do that? No. A normal middle class worker sees that they will be working full-time as a given. They believe at their core, that a 40 hour week equals hard work and a proper work ethic.
Now, you may well work 60 or 70 hours on a task or project each week, but just because you grind those hours out, for someone else, doesn’t justify the work. The middle class individual has been convinced that working hard is an end unto itself. In my opinion, that’s dangerous. Not only for your future but those around you.
It’s not about working hard, it’s about getting compensated according to what you can provide. In 40 hours a week, highly productive and efficient people can run large organizations, take care of their family and spend time enjoying their hobbies. When you accept a 40 hour work week for any stable company that will have you, you cut yourself short. Not only that, but whatever bad habits and attitudes that are present in that organization will rub off on you. When you do that, you allow them to set the *bar* for you.
Staying focused means staying committed to the path you know is right. Not letting the perspective and advice of others distract you from achieving your blueprint. Not many people in life know how to achieve and probably even less have the commitment to make it happen.
What do you dream of in life? How do you want to help others? When your alone, what things do you wish for, what things do you feel you must do? These elements are the building blocks for the path of your success.
Create your world around them and don’t settle for anything less than their fulfillment. It may not be perfect, it may have been lacking in understanding but the important part is learning that what you want *is* important and that to get those things, require you to build your life around making them happen. Just like someone who wants to sell ice cream has to buy the supplies and learn to understand the business, the same is with you and your dreams. You are responsible for creating your life and what you want it to be and therefore your joy and happiness. It’s all up to you.
September 2, 2020