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 search 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 featured 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.
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.
Real reason you never achieve your goals
The real reason you never achieve your dreams or goals is lack of proper planning. Simple enough, yet you don’t do it.
- Too young? Sounds like an excuse for not taking immediateaction.
- 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.
EXAMPLE #1: I can’t do it right now
You want to become the best surgeon in your home-country but you’re “still in high school”? Well, make a plan.
Set a goal and go backward — how do you get there?
- 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 for achieving your end-goal (become the best surgeon in my country) should be focusing on what you can do right now (get your grades up).
Yes, you’re too young to be a surgeon. But you’re not too young to start yourself on the path that you want.
EXAMPLE #2: No money or time
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 need enough capital to get started and enough time to work on your future business. You lack both.
In this case, the approach is different, as you already know what you need to do. Now you just need to find a way to do it. And there are plenty of ways to do both:
How to get more money: Get side-jobs, sell your stuff, sell your services, work online, save your money, spend less on leisure, cut down costs, etc.
How to get more time: Work more efficiently, go out less, complete your (job) work faster so you have more time for your own things, change your sleeping schedule, etc.
If you really want to achieve something, you can find a way to do it.
You can achieve more in 2 hours of focused and dedicated work than you can in 8 hours of music-playing, Internet-searching, social-media-browsing work. 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 setting a goal, making a plan on how to get there, then executing that plan every single day.
If you don’t plan for success, how can you achieve it?
So I’ve called you out on your bullshit and you don’t like it. So you think back to my story from the beginning and think to yourself:
If this guy has it all figured out, why is he still stuck in a job he hates?
The thing is, I’m not. I was for a long time, precisely because I never made an actual plan on how to achieve what I wanted. After realizing my reality in a job I hate, just like before, I muttered to myself:
“One day soon, my (current) side-project is going to blow up and I’ll be out of this place.”Younger, stupider me
But what happened?
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” started playing in my ear and, with it, brought all the visions of the beautiful sights of the world. 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 give Mind of Steel my full focus. This requires money, time, 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. 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, started improving, and voila!
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.
I am not telling you this to make you jealous. 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.
My point is that, 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 with applying this logic.
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.
P.S. If you need help with creating your plan, check out Develop a Mind of Steel.