Conventional wisdom would hold that the old adage “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” is something to adhere to, particularly as it relates your employment status. For most of my young career, I followed this maxim stringently whether subconsciously or not. But I’ve always been a risk-taker in other areas of life, many times to my misfortune. Yet, the times that the risks panned out, the most magical experiences and rewarding periods of my life resulted. Why should my career be any different?
We’re taught, at least I was taught, to follow this traditional western linear model of doing well in school, to go to a good college, to get a good job etc. Check check and check. Well, throw in numerous setbacks, three jobs at minimum wage and business school simultaneously (the typical grind) and we have the beginning years of my career.
I followed the blueprint and did quite well I must say. However, with each subsequent year, I lost more and more of true self in efforts to continually fit the mold and advance up society’s success ladder. I lost so much of myself, I didn’t recognize myself, but those chapters are well documented in other episodes.
Very resolute in my convictions and values personally, I’ve always embodied being on the proverbial Island of Misfit Toys. Never quite fitting in with any one group because of my varied interests, especially with music and recreational activities. Yet, at my best times, I never gave a damn what people thought personally. I lived and enjoyed what I wanted, how I wanted and loved it all.
Yet, my career was handled so much more delicately especially during my early and mid-20s. I wasn’t nearly as embracing of going against the traditional models. I was much more accepting of other’s impressions and directions at the expense of my naturally inquisitive nature and aspirations. Whether it’s coming of age entering my 30s and being completely comfortable in my skin or taking some serious time to evaluate the lifestyles I want for the remainder of my time (probably both and other factors), I gave up others’ opinions of me professionally and let that bird in hand go with none in the bush.
Externally thriving, internally wilting, I said fuck it. Fuck others’ perception of what I should be, could be or was becoming. The only person I needed to quell was that little voice in my head, myself.
I’m not advising being reckless. A risk is not about being utterly reckless, that’s stupidity. I wasn’t going to completely throw away the years of investment in myself and career and simply wish a life into existence. I just genuinely stopped giving a fuck about a lot of energy draining mindsets a lot of which I was the primary culprit. I was my worst toxin.
That’s when things started changing. Unknowing to me, I began attracting what I was truly seeking. It wasn’t a job, accomplishment, person or place. A career, significant other, home, your appearance etc. all may come and go. It may change often or not at all. Nonetheless, the only constant you can really control is who you are and your mindset. Regardless of what you’re doing, where you are or who you’re experiencing life with, if you’re not in alignment with your true self and values, none of it will matter.
Take care of yourself first. Own your narrative, adjust when shit falls apart, as it will continuously do so, and don’t give too many fucks about what others think. Be selective in those you hold dearest and just live your life as best as you can.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”