The most difficult step is always the first
So you’re at the point of giving something new a try. You’re not too sure if you’ll like it or not, but you’re at least willing to give it a go. What’s the first step? Simple:
Do whatever you can do to create something of value as fast as you can.
Or, put another way: find the fastest way to be immediately successful. For most people, simply learning information is a road to boredom, burnout, and eventually giving up. Imagine going back to school and forcing yourself to attend classes, but never taking a quiz or test and never getting any credit for the class (I realize there is a group of sick individuals who would love to do something like this…I’ll address you later). The quizzes, tests, and course credit (if you’re in higher education) give you a measure of success. “I passed that exam and got 85% of the questions correct!” or “I have 23 credit hours.” Unfortunately, it’s a counterfeit success; something very few in the real world actually care about. Explain to your potential employer that you got an 85% on your last calculus test – the best you’ll get is a sympathy pat on the head as they walk you out the door. No, a potential employer cares about REAL results, and that’s what you need to begin building as you take your first step.
•If you’re stepping into being a network engineer, set up a router at your house and monitor your Internet connection bandwidth.
•If you’re trying to become a project manager, create a template that makes it easy for you to initiate a project. Use it to manage your next home improvement project.
•If you’re trying to sell real estate, create an Excel spreadsheet that allows you to plug in the house price, loan length and percentage, and escrow costs and spits out a monthly payment (yes – I know there are websites that do this…but building it yourself is more rewarding).
•If you’re trying to become a writer, start a blog.
Are you getting the idea? Your best shot at being successful in a new field is to create something of value. Something that shows yourself that what you’re doing is possible and you have the ability to do it.
Keep in mind, this is actually much harder than I made it sound in my examples above. The reason I know that you should set up a router is because I am already a network engineer. I know the first phase of project management is the Initiating phase because I’ve studied the best practices of project management using the PMBOK from PMI. When you get into something new, you’ll be forced to trudge through the dark void of conceptual, introductory information filled with acronyms you’ve never heard of and “insider jokes” that just don’t seem funny. You’ll probably hate this part. You’ll probably think, “maybe this isn’t what I wanted to do.” And maybe you’re right…maybe it’s not what you want to do; but you’ll never really know until you get to the point of creating something real again and again. Worse case, you’ll have a genuine appreciation for the abilities needed to accomplish such a thing.
However, if things play out the way I’ve typically seen in the past, your first successful effort will make you feel a small sense of accomplishment. As you continue, success after success turns into a tidal wave of growth and propelling desire to learn and accomplish more. And THAT is how you love what you do. Don’t follow your passion; build it.