Two Paths

JKLTip You don’t have to choose passion, or day job, because it can be both

This is all about how to find and follow your big dreams. You don’t have to choose one path or the other. You can choose both.

The idea of two paths started when I was drawing the concept on the back of a notepad for a student. I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall trying to teach this. It makes me feel kind of like giving it up. I mean not really. I will never give up on trying to share this concept. 

It’s just that time and time again I hear people giving other people far too conservative advice. Hopefully, for anyone who hasn’t understood it, this is my first post to reach them.

I have seen a lot of debate over whether it is wise to follow your passions for work. The people with perspective tend to say never give up on your dreams. The analytical types find safety in stating that we are far better off if we choose the work we are best at already. 

Here’s the thing. There is no right answer and more often than not it can legitimately be both. 

If you have wild, big dreams, so long as it is truly what you love to do, then chip away at it. While you do other work necessary to sustain our societal jails. 

How Do We Know?

When we are faced with the question of what to do in life, at the basic level it is quite simple. There is complexity in the details and in the process, but overall it is straightforward. 

Before I get into the steps I want to say that this philosophy hinges on three beliefs. First, there is no chronological predictability. Don’t tie any of these steps to time, or duration because they are different for everyone. And you must determine the thing you truly love doing in order for this to work. Second, there are no guarantees that what you love doing will bring you fortune, fame, or financial success. 

There is a guarantee that when it’s truly what you love if it does not “pop”, you will still be able to live without regret. 

Paths to follow, entrepreneurship, forest

Finally, there is no real finish line. In the macro, you might choose to become an A-list actor, only to realize spray painting street murals is what you should have done. That’s ok. In the micro, you will continue to change your path as well. It’s never over until it’s fully over. Even then your legacy will live on. 

Steps To Follow

Step 1. Think of what you love to do.

This is the most important step. It starts by asking the question what do you absolutely love to do? What would a dream life look like for you? Think big, really big. As in not the second-best thing because it’s slightly “more realistic”. Pick the actual big thing. Don’t hold back.

For those who struggle with this like I do, there are a few pragmatic strategies you can use. One little homework assignment is to do the very difficult work of listing all of the dreams. When you think big goals what comes to mind?

If you had a genie in a lamp that granted 250 wishes for your best life, what would they be? Take out a piece of paper and physically write them down. All of them. 

This is like the difficult work of AA, or NA. It works if you really push the limit of writing every single one down and being honest. Once you are done you have to test them. Start picking ideas off the list that speak to you in the moment and test, test, test.

Step 2. Decide on a goal and reverse engineer the path. 

Once you have written down all of the potential accomplishments. Now you know 250 things that you think will bring you vitality and a sense of accomplishment. At this point you have to figure out the top few things to focus on. Let’s look at a couple of examples. No matter how crazy your idea is to others, write it down. Keep it to yourself if need be, but believe in it.

During your testing, you might have decided that painting daily really brought you tremendous mindfulness and a feeling you have never felt before. Perhaps attending the senior’s centre to play board games brought you intrinsic joy you’ve longed for. Maybe creating a weekday rant videos for social media created a daily goal that you looked forward to. Perhaps you saw an artist perform at a music awards show and thought, no matter what it takes, I want to do that. It’s key to search for those big dreams.

Step 3. Build a system you can handle

Now that you have a goal and a vision you must work backwards to determine the next step. But first, you have to figure out what you need financially to sustain the current life. Find work that covers at least your bills and spending money you need. For example, you may be able to get a job waiting tables in a restaurant, or freelance photography to pay for your must-haves. It is crucial to give this job your best effort and respect because its your current lifeline.

Now, decide what the most valuable actions are for the big dreams. To determine this you can use the resources around you. Books, videos, and podcasts on the topic are a good place to start. Building empathy by looking at others who have accomplished similar goals and seeing what you can learn from their journey can help too. 

Build systems that allow you to balance your day job that pays the bills. Or as we often call it, “jail job”. I love my day job, so I don’t see it as a jail by any stretch, but even a job I love is very restricting when it comes to creativity. Eventually, your dream will surpass your must-have job, if you just keep learning.

Scalable Dream Job

Systems For Balance

There are three key systems to make this not feel like juggling. Start by using a macro calendar, with weeks, years and months to schedule every date and time. Second, build a micro daily schedule that evolves like clay, but that each day you do your best to follow, revise and then follow again. And, last but not least choose a system for notes and to do. It is incredibly important to minimize random thoughts. Whether high tech or low tech, choose a system to record every single thing you will ever need to do. Zero Exceptions. 

There you have it. Simple right? In just twelve paragraphs you have everything you need to turn “follow your dreams” from a cliche into a reality. 

So what are you waiting for? It can be easier said than done, but this is the path. Or at least it’s “a path” which is something most people don’t have. I hope it helps you and I would love to see your progress. I would love to help you too, so feel free to reach out on any social media @JustTries 

*Come Write A Guest Post: 8 Billion People
** Read Why Just Keep Learning: JKL Post


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