I recently shared one of my professional goals with you and the response to this disclosure has been very positive. I’m thankful that I have friends and readers who understand me enough to know this wasn’t easy.
One of the reasons why sharing goals publicly is difficult is because people say you’re cocky or you have a big ego if you say something really ambitious and actually sound confident when you say it. I hate that. I feel like we used to be allowed to dream and have goals and think big and talk loud, but over the years – with so many people competing for jobs with their college educations and a struggling economy, online bullying, etc. – we’ve limited ourselves and gotten real quiet with our ambitions. We tell people not to take risk, to play it smart, to live in the moment, and a million other contradictory and stifling things that don’t help anyone reach their goals.
I’m a really ambitious person. People who love me know this about me, and most of them love me for it. My ambition is what has led me down a lot of roads that most people would never go down. Most of those roads led to something almost everyone wants or likes the sound of be it writing a book or starting my own business or taking a day job at Bazaarvoice after starting my own business or committing myself to so many extra-curricular, civic and philanthropic activities. This isn’t to brag, but simply to show that the risk were worth the rewards. They aren’t always, but they are often.
People need to take risks more often. Especially younger people. If you don’t have a husband or wife, kids, a mortgage, or anything family-related or financially-related that would hinder you from doing what you love, then you really have no excuse. Seriously, you have no fucking excuse. Quit making excuses. … No, I can’t hear you. Stop it.
I can’t tell you how many people ask me a question that starts with “how” and ends with something about time or making money or networking. How is important, but it’s only the 3rd most important set of questions to ask.
The most important thing to ask yourself is What. What is your purpose? What unique skills and talents and interests do you have that would help you better understand and fulfill your purpose?
From there you should think Why. Why would you not pursue fulfilling your purpose? Why would you spend so much time, energy and resources doing something that is not that purpose?
I have a lot of great friends. At some point, most of my friends were extremely ambitious too. Either in middle school or high school or college or post-college I’ve heard my friends say some of the most lofty, inspired things about what they want to do in the world. I can count on one hand how many of them are doing it. I mean really doing it. In the last few years alone, I’ve seen friends from 19 years old to 29 years old let their true goals fall by the waist side.
Does this mean my friends are failures? HELL NO. My friends are quite accomplished and happy with what they’re doing, I’m sure.
This is to say that ambition alone is not enough. You have to know the What and the Why. You have to have a purpose that you are genuinely and tirelessly committed to. You have to know why you’re so committed to that purpose. You will be tested. You will be given easy outs. You will get stuck between rocks and hard places. You will fall in love. You will change cities. You will lose jobs. You will be underpaid. You will be overpaid to do something you don’t really love. You will be underappreciated. You will be appreciated for doing something you don’t really love. You will be underestimated. You will fail. You will cry. You will see others do what you want to do. You will want to give up. You will lose friends. You will not be understood.
But if you know What you want to do and can fully explain to yourself Why it’s so important, you will achieve your true goals. Does it mean you’ll finish 1st every time? No. But you’ll find out that 1st isn’t as important at finishing. Most people never even finish the most important race of their lives. Most people do not fulfill their purpose on this Earth.
Most people spend more time talking themselves into what they’re currently doing rather than actually doing what they are capable of.