It was a gloomy Tuesday at my dull 9-5 day job. Naturally, my thoughts were centered around putting my head through a nearby wall.
If you’ve ever worked a job you hate — or at least, highly dislike — you can definitely relate to what I’m talking about. It’s like being stuck in a boring class, only the stakes are much higher.
This particular Tuesday, I was working on yet another project which I knew wouldn’t bear any fruit and would most probably be completely scrapped within a few months. But until it does, there’s work to be done.
So I put on my headphones, open up YouTube, and searched for some background music to help me focus (by focus, I mean distract me). I wasn’t aware of this then, but the following 60 seconds would change my life forever. I stumbled across Avicii’s “Nights”, a song about seizing the day and avoiding regret in life.
The music video features lots of activities and beautiful sights of the world. I quickly disregarded the work I was supposed to be doing and became immersed in this vision, as it is something I dreamed of ever since I was a kid. Traveling the world, doing what you love, and exploring beautiful destinations.
Moments after, the reality hit me like a speeding bulldozer with broken brakes. I was still in a dirty, gloomy office with people who look like they have been buttfucked by Death itself.
I’ve been wanting this life since I was a kid, yet all of the choices I’ve made so far have led me to the exact place I was trying so hard to avoid. What happened to my dreams?
Why You Need To Plan Ahead
I can bet my left arm, right leg, and both of my nuts that you have big dreams.
They don’t have to be the biggest dreams in the world, but I’m betting that you have high aspirations for yourself. Anything from finishing school with honors or getting a high-paying job, all the way to starting a company or becoming a famous whoever.
I can also bet both of my legs, arms, and the entirety of my private parts that you are nowhere near your desired goal.
The reason for this could be that it’s not possible at the moment. You may be too young or at the wrong location or don’t have enough money. You could lack the support of people around you or the motivation to risk everything and go after what you want. You may lack enough time to make the change that you want to.
It could be any number of reasons why you haven’t achieved what you want to… but it’s not. The real reason you never achieve your dreams or goals is a lack of proper planning. Simple enough, yet you don’t do it.
- Too young? Sounds like an excuse for not taking immediate action.
- Wrong location? Sounds like you think simply being somewhere will magically solve your problems.
- No money or time? Sounds like you need to figure out how to manage both.
- No support or motivation? Sounds like you’re more interested in validation from others than willing to do whatever it takes.
No matter what your circumstances are, the reality is you can change them. No, you cannot magically achieve your dreams, goals, or desires overnight. But if you’re still stuck in the same place in life, year after year, it’s because you’re probably trying to wing it.
You have a general sense of what you want to achieve but no clear long-term and short-term plans I place.
“I want to do it, but I can’t right now”
The biggest excuse I hear is that you know what you want to achieve and will do it someday… you just can’t do it right now. Something in your life is stopping you from pulling the trigger and going for it.
Most people say this. “Oh, one day when I’m rich, I’ll do this and that”. For people who live this way, that day never comes. And for a good reason too. They’re so focused on thinking about the end-goal that they never even take the first step to actually get there.
Let’s say that you want to become a top surgeon in your home-country but you’re “still in high school”? What do you do? Well, you make a plan. Set a goal and work your way backward.
- To become the best surgeon, you first need to become a surgeon. Not only that, you need to know what kind of a surgeon you want to become.
- To become a specialized surgeon, you need to go to a certain medical school that only accepts a very small number of applicants.
- To get to that specialized school, you first need to finish regular med school.
- To get accepted there, you need to finish regular college.
- To get accepted to college, you need to have good high school grades.
So your primary focus right now should be on getting the best grades that you can. This is something directly related to your end-goal, but it also something you can do at this point in your life. Yes, of course you’re too young to be a surgeon. But you’re not too young to start yourself on the path that you want.
Or let’s say you’re sick of your job and want to start your own company. You have a great idea and want to nurture it to success. There’s only one problem; you don’t have enough capital to get started. On top of that, you don’t have enough time to work on your future business.
The same lesson from above applies here. You want to start a business, but don’t have enough capital? Well, learn how to save. Draw up a business plan. Start getting money on the side. Get side-jobs, sell your stuff, work online, spend less on leisure, cut down cost.
When it comes to “not enough time”, it’s all a matter of how you use the time that you have. For example, you spend 8 hours at work; are you really productive for the entire 8 hours? Fuck no. Once you take out lunch breaks, coffee breaks, water cooler talk, social media browsing, and toilet breaks, you’re left with about 3-4 hours of actual work.
There are plenty of ways to work more efficiently. If you finish your work faster, there’s more time to work on your own thing. You could also choose to go out less, change your sleeping schedule, or take less unnecessary breaks. It’s all a matter of priorities.
If you really want to achieve something, find a way to do it.
You can achieve more in 2 hours of focused and dedicated work than you can in 8 hours half-work and fucking around. You can always save up money instead of going out every weekend or having drinks with your friends every other day.
Having dreams is about thinking to yourself “one day, I will be this or that”. Planning is about seeing the bigger picture; not just choosing in which direction you want to go, but taking steps to get there.
If you don’t plan for success, how can you achieve it?
Let me get back to my story from the beginning. When I realized that I wasn’t living my life the wanted to, just like before, I muttered to myself:
“One day soon, I am going to blow up and I’ll be out of this place.”Younger, stupider me
Can you guess what happened? Seriously, it’s like clockwork.
One year passed and I was still at the same shitty job in the same shitty office. Still working on the same dull work I knew would be discounted within a month. Once again, I had my headphones on and my playlist on shuffle.
And then it hit me. “Nights” popped up on my playlist and with it brought back all the visions of the beautiful sights of the world and the dreams I never achieve. But then the real “it” hit me:
“It’s been a FUCKING YEAR!”
It’s been a whole motherfucking year since I heard this song and said that whole “one day” speech. It’s been an entire year since I said to myself “enough is enough”. It’s been a full cycle of 365 days and not much has really changed.
Why? Because I never made a plan.
This realization hit me hard. I zoned out for the rest of the day. Couldn’t sleep all night. I gave my two weeks notice the next morning and felt like a million bucks.
Now, I’m not telling you to quit your job or “follow your passion“. In all reality, that may be a shitty choice for you. It may as well have been a shitty choice for me. And to be honest, I didn’t quit the next day, because I’m not a trigger-happy idiot. What I did do the next day was make a plan.
- I wanted to travel.
- I wanted to work on Mind of Steel full-time.
- I wanted to work independently of a location.
My dream required money, time, and logistics. So I started saving up. I started living frugally and filling up my piggy bank. I cleaned my house and sold my stuff. I made a plan for Mind of Steel and started working on it.
When the time came, I did quit my job to focus on Mind of Steel completely. People thought I was crazy. People thought I’d never make it. Everybody gave me shit for not sticking to “the normal“.
It was stressful, to say the least. I worked 16-hours a day, often forgot to eat, developed anxiety and raised my stress levels to the max. It wasn’t pretty. My money was running out and I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Fuck it, I adjusted my plan and kept going. I learned along the way and started improving.
This is not one of those “I had a shit job but then I started a blog and quit my job and became rich” types of articles. There’s already too many of those. Here, read Mark Manson’s version, it’s much better than mine would ever be.
The reality is, my dream is still a work in progress.
I’m still not where I want to be. I’m still adjusting my plans and trying to figure things out. That’s okay. But I have also started making money off of my passion, wake up with a smile on my face due to a good work-life balance, and I’m going to travel the world in a few months. All because I planned things out in advance.
My main point is this: For the longest time, I was aimless. I wasn’t disciplined or productive with my time. I didn’t use my money wisely. I was full of excuses and “one day” stories that never amounted to anything. I wasn’t disciplined or productive with my time. I didn’t use my money wisely. I was full of excuses and “one day” stories that never amounted to anything.
The change that finally made all the difference in my life was to make a plan and follow it whether I feel like it or not. It’s the same principle with developing or breaking habits, going to the gym, or anything else in life.
When it comes to our dreams, we can be stubborn about applying this logic. There a billion things you can do before actually pulling the trigger. Most people focus only on the shining solution, while disregarding all the hard steps needed to get there.
Make a plan and follow it… or don’t. Just remember that all the excuses in the world won’t make you right. No matter how much you try to justify things, your dreams will still be left unfulfilled.
When that happens, don’t say I didn’t warn you.