Most days I feel like I’m sitting in my car with a lead foot on the pedal. The engine is roaring.
But I’m in neutral.
I’m still in my driveway.
If you have ever set out to do your own thing, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Since my freshman year in college, I’ve had the burning desire to start a company that I’m absolutely in love with and travel the world.
After reading The 4 Hour Workweek twice over, I spent countless hours sitting in the library racking my brain for my “big idea.” I read every blog, made lists, and I used every technique I could think of to brainstorm. But this is what no one tells you:
I’ve built websites, designed logos, and discussed ideas. I’ve talked to professors, attended Startup Weekends, and everything else I could possibly think of to discover my perfect company. Many days I sit and think about what everyone around me does. They go to class, do homework, and get an unpaid internship. Then, I evaluate what I’ve done. I’ve spent countless hours scratching and clawing at my goals, and I start to feel like I don’t have anything to show for all of the time and effort I’ve put forth thus far.
True, I have started and run a few small businesses from lawn care to web design, but I’m essentially the same as every other business school undergraduate. I can’t help but feel that all of my effort has been for nothing because I don’t have anything to show for it.
I’m sure you’ve felt the same and know exactly what I’m talking about.
But when you start to feel like this, remember one thing:
Your struggle isn’t for nothing.
Classes and Jobs are Easy
Admit it. They are. After you work in the real world, classes feel like a coffee break because the curriculum is set up for you. You don’t do anything but show up for class, listen, and learn. There’s no guesswork and there’s no fear that you are spending your time doing the wrong thing. All you have to do is follow the set path and work hard.
You’ve Learned How to Learn
It’s difficult to start your own company or business because you don’t have a manual to follow. You don’t have a class to prepare you for every possible obstacle that you can face. But, you’ve learned dozens of skills working on your business, especially if it’s online. I’ve personally learned WordPress (website platform), Adobe Illustrator (graphic design software), and Adobe Muse (no coding web design).I learned how to formulate ideas, write copy, send effective emails, talk to angry clients, and give a compelling sales pitch. And, thanks to these challenges and countless others, I’ve learned out how to teach myself.
And, you’ve done the same. You’ve found “how-to” guides, talked to mentors, followed blogs, watched online lectures and tutorials. You’ve learned from experience. The real world has unseen variables, and you know that you just have to try.
You Think Differently About “The Answers”
As a student, especially as an undergraduate student, you believe that your professor knows everything and you think your text book is sacred. But, when you leave school and try to implement everything you learned, you soon find out that the only people who are successful are those who are dedicated, passionate, and have a work ethic.
You Make the Rules
If life teaches you anything it’s that there only a few absolute truths. You can have breakfast for dinner. You can walk around barefoot. You can go camping on a Wednesday night and come back before class Thursday morning. But, more importantly, you can live your life any way you want. It’s your life.
Every time I stop to remind myself of this, I realize that I’m sitting in my driveway after all.
I’m on the runway.
I’m in the cockpit.
The throttle is all the way down and the engines are roaring.
Pretty soon, when the turbines are spinning fast enough, I’ll lift the brake and soar into the clouds.
Image credit: CC by David Salafia