17 July 2007, 09:22
I recently received an email from a very sweet girl, asking me for my advice on choosing a career, & working out what you want to do with your life. She said,
“I just ended my four-month contract with a company that paid well and had good prospects just because it really bored me to death and now I feel like I should’ve tried harder to make things work.”
Dear Brave Girl,
First of all, congratulations on doing what is best for you! Quitting a job which makes you feel like you’re decomposing is an INCREDIBLY liberating feeling.
Secondly, please, my darling, don’t feel bad about leaving your soul-sucking, spirit-crushing boredom festival. I mean, uh, job with good prospects! Do you know why you shouldn’t feel bad about leaving it? A boring job is not like a boring pair of jeans — with boring jeans, you can throw on a red sequinned bolero, tease your hair to the heavens & wear a pair of shoes so magnificent that your jeans will suddenly seem invisible. But a boring job is not as versatile. Those bastards have you chained to a desk, eight hours a day. It’s such a huge chunk of your life gone, & if your boss suddenly turns into a monster (among other possible worst case scenarios), it can really cast an ugly pallor on everything else.
Simply put, it is impossible to be happy when your job makes you want to throw yourself out the window.
Oh baby, I’ve been there! I know how bad it can get. Four & a half years was my limit. “No more!”, I said. After travelling for a few months with my boyfriend, I realised that the last thing I wanted to do was go back to an office, or work in a shop. The boring corporate brigade versus standing on my feet selling rubbish… hmmm, difficult toss-up!
So, how did I know what I wanted to do? Well, I didn’t really. For a couple of years prior, I had this idea that I wanted to start a magazine. I’d taken a publishing course, picked out a name, registered domains & everything. But the closer I looked at the industry, the less I liked it. For one, magazines are totally wasteful — I don’t think I could bear the guilt of killing so many trees. Secondly, you have to kiss advertiser butt — not my style. Thirdly, magazines are just a terrible concept! You can never find anything in a stack of magazines, the indexing is awful, & once August is over (for example), no one’s going to buy it. The expense in starting up a magazine (on any decent scale) is HUGE & it just started to look more & more unstable. I didn’t really know what to do.
My boyfriend recommended I read the website of this guy called Steve Pavlina. I think the first article I read by him was 10 Reasons You Should Never Get A Job. (Read it! Please!) I couldn’t believe what I read. It made me so angry, as I realised everything he said was true. Then I started to work through his other stuff — my second read was The Courage To Live Consciously. Then I listened to his podcasts while I exercised at the gym upstairs & surveyed the city below me. How To Make Money Without A Job, Kick-Start Your Own Business & Embracing Your Passion are all great bits of audio.
I started to make a list of possible things I could do to earn money. I have always known, instinctively, that writing is what I should be doing. I’ve been writing stories, poems, journals & anything else I could think of since a very young age. I think, though, that someone had convinced me that writers don’t make any money, so I had decided that I wasn’t going to do that. Pfffttttt! I should have listened to my mother, who always told me, “do what you love & the money will follow”. The idea of starting my magazine, NOW, online, on a smaller scale, occured to me. I started turning it over in my head, thinking about how I could do it. I wrote my first article, Fashion Help For Recovering Goths, & was instantly hooked! My boyfriend & I cobbled a site together… & here we are today.
I wouldn’t do anything else.
So — here are my tips.
Make lists of things you think you would enjoy doing. Show them to your friends & family, get their opinion. There might be something obvious that you forgot to put down. If they make rude comments or act negatively, please don’t listen! They’re just jealous that they’re not as brave as you are… (If that’s not working, try this.)
Focus on what you WANT! What would your dream career be like? (For example, I never thought that taking narcissistic photos of myself, one of my favourite ever things to do, would generate income… & yet!) If you have fears (“I’m not capable of making any money”; “I’m a failure”; “I have no skills”; “I’m a talentless hack”; “no one will ever take me seriously”; “I fear that branching out on my own will prove how lame I really am!”), use EFT to get rid of them.
Start now, if not sooner. If you don’t want to start without a nest-egg, start working towards building up that money. Get a couple of extra jobs if you can. Make that nest-egg your top priority.
Do your research. Check out other people doing something like what you want to do. How professional are they? What do they charge? Make a list of ways in which you are going to be better than them.
Know when to throw in the towel. Everyone has bad days, even in their dream career — for me, sometimes I can’t think of a single thing to write, can’t dress myself & feel like locking myself in a cupboard — but it’s not because I hate my job, it’s because I’m moody. Learn to differentiate between a bad day & actually disliking what you’re doing.
You will make mistakes. Make them quickly! In my experience, the more things you try, the closer you get to doing what you REALLY want.
Be brave. Have faith in yourself. Know that you can do it! ‘Cause you can, baby!
Now that you have read this, I would like you to do yourself a favour. This favour involves getting your hands on a whiteboard pen. Take this pen, go to the mirror or window you look at most often, & write upon it three quotes. (If you like, you can write the quotes on different windows. Wild, isn’t it?!)
“Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?” — Friedrich Nietzsche
“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“People need to be made more aware of the need to work at learning how to live because life is so quick and sometimes it goes away too quickly.” — Andy Warhol
I would say good luck, but you don’t need it, you little genius!