Let’s take a deeper look at the journey of those who choose to pursue success first. You work hard now and once you’ve made your fortune, then you’ll be able to do what you want.
It sounds like a great theory and it does work for those who choose a traditional career that happens to be the one they love and are passionate about, such as investment banker, scientist, doctor, lawyer, etc. But for those of us who are not interested in traditional careers, this doesn’t seem to be a good strategy. In fact, it can be a dangerous strategy. Here are some reasons why:
- We gradually engage in self-deception. You might say something like: “I dislike bankruptcy law but I am going to do it for 20 years, and then I will retire and do what I want.” Twenty years later, you reached your goal; you have enough money to retire at the age of 46. Ironically, at that point you are convinced that the thing you dislike most, bankruptcy law, is really the thing that’s going to save the world. You managed to convince yourself that the thing you disliked was what you really wanted to do. One of the tests for that is to ask yourself and you have to ask yourself before you engage in self-deception: Would you still do this thing if you weren’t being paid?
- When you have a deferred job, your psychological identity gets wrapped up around that and if you do that for 10 or 15 years, you begin to define yourself as a lawyer or as a banker and it will be hard and stressful to get out of it. You become very psychologically deeply invested in the deferred job, not in the life that you want to have.
- Another problem with deferring what you really wanted to do is what if you never develop the skills in the job you want to do. If you’re putting off in becoming the dancer or singer, you’re not necessarily spending the time to train your body or your voice and getting to the point where you can do that. Also, you’re not building a network or creating the infrastructure that would allow you to do that easily. So, when the time comes to make the switch, you’re not part of the professional and social network.
- The deferred job will not allow you to live an extraordinary life, because after working at it for 20 years, you forgot what you truly wanted to do in the first place.
- We are trapped. The more we defer things, the more we do something we don’t like, the more we built systems, and we built a life that has a certain shape and we fit comfortably in it. This is a double-edged sword. The good news is that we built a system that helped us with whatever we wanted to do.
But the unexpected consequence of that is that if we want to change and do something else, we’re locked in to the system that we’ve created. The most powerful obstacle to us changing our life and doing something extraordinary is not fear. Fear definitely plays a role, but the larger role is played by habits and by systems.
The habits and systems that work for you in your 20’s may not work for you in your 30’s, and the ones you’ve established in your 30’s may not work for you in your 40’s.
Do A Deliberate Shift
The most powerful systems aren’t even the external ones; they’re the internal ones. They’re the beliefs that we have. Let’s say that you want to leave your banking job and become an entrepreneur; this has been a dream of yours for quite some time.
But, you’re not ready because you have small children you have to take care of. Another excuse can be that you have a mortgage on a house. These are the sort of excuses that you don’t want to leave the comfort of perceived security of a corporate job and take an entrepreneurial plunge. There will always be excuses.
That’s fine if that’s your choice, however, it’s a habit that will keep you in the comfort zone. If you want to take a leap, you have to change the habit because there will always be an excuse on why now is not the right time.
If you want to start building an extraordinary life, you need to do a deliberate shift, and you have to do a shift in your habits and in your system. The particular things that comprise our habits and our systems are our beliefs, the commitments we’ve made to other people and other organizations.
Sometimes commitments are legal like taking on a mortgage, sometimes they’re informal like volunteering to be the chairman of the board or they can just be commitments that we made to ourselves. Commitments can keep you stuck in living a life that you don’t want.
So, if you need to do a shift, you need to look at the commitments you’ve made. You need to look at your expectations. If you need to change your life, changing your expectations is critical.