Take a deep breath and stop worrying. Don’t let words like foreclosure, budget cuts, and downsizing make you fear. Never mind that you are wondering where the paychecks will come from and how long they will last.
I have the four steps to professional success. They are based on my own experience and choices, which, I must say, are without flaw. Be ready to be blown away.
Step 1: Move to a town of under a thousand people.
Senior year of college at UNLV, while most my classmates were pining for their internships and entry-level positions in the big city, I sat on my hands. It wasn’t about laziness. I just knew I was going to a magical place called Alamo, Nevada instead. It is the town where, even though there is little in the way of a private sector economy, I would make my living.
I explained the decision to my college professors, and most asked why I wanted to go all the way to Texas. Once they better understood the location, I could tell most of them thought I was a lunatic.
Step 2: Spend thousands of dollars to become a teacher. Then quit teaching.
Of course, one can’t just move to a place like Alamo without having at least a perceived prospect for adequate employment.
So I jumped in a program to become a teacher. Sure, there was the whole issue of there being no teaching jobs at the time, but that was just a minor detail. I set up my student teaching at PVHS last year and pushed through, until I had the piece of paper that said I could teach. Then as the current school year began, I was asked to full-time sub. The magic had happened. I was in the door.
There was just one problem. It didn’t feel like the right job for me. This wasn’t a complete surprise, as a vision was already forming in my head of what I really wanted to do. Now I had confirmation.
So I did the wise thing. In the middle of a recession, after spending thousands of dollars on a teaching degree, with a wife who was six months pregnant, while living in a town with no other full-time job opportunities, I quit my full-time job.
Step 3: Convince those who care about you that you aren’t completely nuts.
Family and friends have wondered, and probably still are wondering, if I have lost my mind. I explained to many that I was equipped with two part-time jobs that would easily pay the bills and that were flexible enough for me to go after what I really wanted to do. I’ve tried to assure people that I’m not paid in Denny’s gift certificates, but I still sense skepticism.
The main opinion that counts for me these days, of course, is my wife’s. When I married Robin, I’m sure she thought she was getting a solid guy. I was working toward a degree and was looking forward to my first job and a safe, solid career with a retirement plan and dental. Now she found herself with a husband who was veering off the smooth path.
I relayed to her my goals, a plan, and reassured her that we weren’t heading toward the soup kitchen any time soon. Thankfully, but not unexpectedly, she supports me.
Step 4: Be an incredibly optimistic thinker
Most new businesses fail. Lincoln County is too small. You’re crazy. My brain makes comments like this all the time. When it happens, I put my hands overs my ears and sing a loud tune. This sometimes frightens others when it occurs in a public place. Nevertheless, it is a necessary practice these days as I forge ahead with my tiny, new business.
I have to grasp hold of anything positive and drop kick the glaring negatives and uncertainties. The glass that is one-fourth full is overflowing in my eyes. Any progress, no matter how small, feels like I conquered Everest. Any setback is only a pebble in the road.
Some call it wishful thinking. I call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So there it is. Use these four steps to professional success, and you too can be just like me – happy, motivated, and a little delusional.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to “work”.