The Road is Long: the Journey Through Forever
Sometimes I just like to think. To reflect. Ponder. I’m at an interesting point in my life right now, and I got lost in thought when I questioned “How the hell did I get here?” Not in the cosmic sense, or the philosophical, but in the real sense. I was born, and now I’m here: what happened in between? I’ve been through a lot, and while it all seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye, I realize that it’s taken me literally forever to get here.
Yes, I do mean literally, for all you “ugh, I can’t believe they changed the meaning of the word literally to figuratively” people. Believe me, that set my soul on fire too.
For me, and for you for that matter, “forever” is time without an ending, and it comprises everything you’ll ever see, and ever know, before your time actually does end. From your perspective, time began when you came into this world, it only really exists until the ever-changing “right now,” and it eventually will end when you are gone. There is not one fragment of time that will exist in your world once you are not around to experience it. So you have been and will be, quite literally, here forever.
Forever. It seems like such a long time, doesn’t it? So much has happened, and I personally think it’s a great exercise to take the time to reflect on it and marvel at how much has changed. Change. Wow, is that one of the greatest and most exciting things about life! And man, did I go through a lot of it! A lot of what I went through can be related to strategic business thinking, so I’d like to share my journey with you; I think there might be some value to relaying to you all the lessons I’ve learned. So without further ado, I present a portion of my path through forever which ultimately led me here, to this blog post.
Never Lose Yourself in Your Business
I graduated college as the creative type, working in video editing (for reference, this is the finance guy talking here). I started by putting together wedding reels and made my way into the corporate world, making training programs for an international retail company. While I was grateful for having a job at first, (I got scolded once for my happy-go-lucky yet incredibly distracting whistling,) eventually the lack of creativity and the stress inducing people wore down on me. Between cutthroat “co-workers,” micromanagement, and aversion to outside-the-box thinking, I learned an incredible life lesson: I wanted to be happy where I was working, surrounded by people I felt comfortable with and who would both let me be me and let me do what I do.
Much like in business, it is very important to keep your identity. Never lose sight of it, fight for it, and make sure that it makes you happy. Does your mission resonate with your soul? Would you like to spend time with the people you work with outside of work? Are you able to do things the way you would like to, or are you otherwise forced? Take a deep look inside and make sure you have a solid base for doing what you do. I know it certainly guided what I did.
Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should Take Action in Business
While this was a great lesson, it put me in a position to make a STUPID decision. I decided to quit. Just like that. I was beyond overly confident in my skills, and thought I’d have no issue finding a new job with ease. In my mind, my skill set was irrelevant, and it was all about my capabilities. Turns out supply and demand is a real thing though, which I learned the hard way. The year? 2009. Womp womp. Six months later, I was officially out of money, and it was still another two months before I finally found a job, with a totally different skill set requirement (data entry and administration), and for far less pay than I was hoping. The lesson: always plan ahead, and think things through before you do something you’ll regret.
To have a successful business, you have the master the skill of taking calculated risks. Calculated risks. I had thought that saving enough money for a reasonable amount of time would be more than sufficient, but didn’t think to consider whether my assessment of “reasonable” was actually reasonable, given the circumstances. As it turns out, it wasn’t, and my calculations were poor. As a result, I suffered through one of the most frightening periods of my life. Weigh the costs, consider the benefits, assess the consequences of failure. Can you handle it if you do fail? Is it worth risking if you can’t? Can your business succeed if you don’t try?
If it Makes Sense to Act, You’d Better Make that Business Decision
So at that point, I was presented with a choice: continue on that safe path with limited mobility, or do something about it. On the one hand, I could afford to live, but on the other hand, what I was doing wasn’t very stimulating and I had to live quite minimalistically. After some soul searching and research, I decided it was time for a change, so I did some planning before I opted to go back to school and get my MBA in professional accounting. (Quite the turnaround, eh?) I always was organizationally and numerically inclined, and this just seemed to make sense as something high in demand, where I could “always” find a job. Lesson: never be afraid to take drastic action, as long as you plan it out and have a clear purpose for doing so.
This continues the previous theme, but focuses more on the action itself than the calculation. In my previous blog I wrote all about the dangers of inaction. The bottom line: sometimes, you just gotta do it, but be smart about it.
So I rode that train for a while, but finally, after four plus years working a very good job at a very reputable firm, I decided it was time to head out on my own (with some of the greatest guys on the planet). It was a big risk, but certainly a calculated one, and it was based on the culmination of all of the lessons I had learned to date. Through careful planning, I could take drastic action in the pursuit of enjoying what I do and who I do it with. Working once again with creative types, I satisfied my long-starved craving to do something a bit more fun. On top of that, I created a situation where I could exercise control over my actions and feel like what I’m doing actually makes a difference. I finally found everything I wanted. So why does this matter? Why am I sharing this story?
Sometimes You Forget How Far You’ve Come (and How Far You Can Go) in Your Business
First of all, I am a video editor turned financial officer. That alone means that it doesn’t matter where you start, you can always learn new skills, change directions, and be adaptable. As true as it was for me in my life, this is something that is equally as important to know when it comes to your business. There is ALWAYS a solution. No matter the problem, there is something you can do about it. Sometimes you gotta get creative and think outside the box, or leave your comfort zone. Sometimes you’ll be scared. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. Sometimes you’ll fail. Sometimes you’ll regret what you had done and stay up at night, kicking yourself, wondering how you could have been so foolish.
You know what though? Forever is a long time. You can always move forward. Always learn. Always change. Always become better. Push yourself, and push those around you to accomplish things you yourself would never have thought possible five years ago. Life is a long game, and it ain’t over til you say it’s over. As long as you never give up, you have literally FOREVER to do what you want to do, and to learn to do it well. You just need to take the chance, and change. Don’t wait for forever to pass. Do it now. Do it often.
So that’s my story. Some of it I’m proud of, other parts, not so much. Without a doubt though, I’ll say that every second was worth it because it brought me to where I am, through the pain and suffering, to the joys of triumph, and a feeling of accomplishment of how I had come so far, and it will shape my future to come. So again, why does this matter? Why does my personal story of ups and downs actually matter? Because, my dear reader, I am you. The Brad Pitt to your Ed Norton. The thoughts in the back of your mind that are itching to come out and push you to your limits. What I want to impart onto you is the knowledge that we all struggle. We all fight. We all have the capacity to become the best versions of ourselves and create our better future. Now go do it. Don’t wait forever.
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