My father always told me I needed to “pay my dues” in life and I never truly understood what that meant and why I needed to.
My life was planned: you go to school, you go to college, you graduate, and you get a good job.
I learned the hard way that life isn’t a step-by-step puzzle and the pieces will not fit perfectly or easy together. It doesn’t matter if you went to a prestigious school or come from a great family – no one is going to just hand me success. I have to earn it.
Not just millennials
The media has inundated us with various articles and studies stating that millennials feel entitled and privileged. I can agree to a certain point, but I think it applies to more than just millennials.
I feel many of us feel so eager for success or accolades that we forget to do the steps. To appreciate the journey of highs and lows, to learn from our mistakes and from our achievements.
I talk in my book “Finding My Sparkle” about how I hated the way I looked, but had to take a deeper dive into what I was doing about it. I was complaining, I was living in my feelings of sadness – but what was I doing to change it? I had to put in the work.
In that case, it was making a plan to change my eating habits, working out more and overall making a lifestyle change. This applies to everything in life, including climbing the corporate ladder or building a successful business.
Master current level
Too often, I see clients and others give up because life is not going their way, but then when asked, “Did you do XYZ?” they only did X. You can’t skip to the next level without mastering the level you are on currently.
Often, we get wrapped up in someone else’s journey and want to compare theirs to ours. Truth is, you never know what work they did behind the scenes to get to where they are today. People only show you what they want to show you. The struggle and work are often left out.
The work can be unsexy. I totally get it and understand. We often find ourselves unmotivated to just even start. Our checklist is next to us but then we seem to use every excuse and distraction to delay us from diving into what needs to be done.
This is where determination kicks in. If you truly want to succeed you have to start. There is no magic pill, secret sauce or easy button – the magic is in the action. Here are a couple ways to help you navigate the work:
- Do it with purpose. Don’t confuse purpose with passion. Many of us lead with passion because we are ready for an end result such as a paycheck or an award. At the end of the day, purpose will prevail due to it being your calling. Many people working in corporate or as an entrepreneur lead with purpose because it’s what we truly love doing. We wouldn’t endure the sacrifices, long nights, stress if we weren’t truly doing it for purpose. I’m not saying you can’t have passion about your purpose, but make sure purpose is your number one focus.
- Don’t skip the steps. Make a plan. Want to move up the corporate ladder? Map out a 5-year plan on how you’re going to get to your desired position(s). Along the way you may need to complete additional educational or professional development courses. Do them. You can’t jump from an assistant to the vice president overnight.
- Do it over time. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Social media can be very misleading where people seem to pop out of nowhere with the perception that are doing great things. Most certainly, they have been working hard at their career or business for a while, but their work is just now starting to “bloom” from the seeds they have planted. Stay consistent and you will see growth soon.
- Do the work. There isn’t much explanation needed for this one. You have to devote the time, sweat and tears into making your goals realities. Seek out mentors that will help you stay accountable, steer towards what you need to do, and give constructive criticism (and not just a pat on the back). Wake up, get dressed and do the work, every day.