The old saying goes ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself.’ Many a person filled with hubris about their own abilities takes this too far and often ends up never trusting others to help or take on any challenge, no matter how small or insignificant. The real meaning behind this idea is that if you ‘have an idea in your mind about the way something should be done, do it yourself.’ This can lead to the founding of a successful business, if you take it along the lines of ‘if you found a better way to do something, do it yourself.’ But I see this phrase and the interpretation of it in a different light.
I would challenge this idea with a slight tweak, by removing two words. ‘If you want something, do it yourself.’ This is the essential idea for habit formation. If we keep doing the same thing we will eventually make it part of our unconscious process. But I want to take it to an ever higher level. If we want to be a certain person, do a certain thing, have a certain job, the act of going out and doing it until everyone believes you enough to pay you for it is the essence of what I’m trying to capture.
So many people sit at home and wish they could be a model or an actor or a scientist or an engineer or own a restaurant or consult or sell a product they made, and these dreams take up significant daily energy. If you ask them why they haven’t done it, their typical response is any one of several usual excuses:
‘I’m not in the right place financially’
‘It’s not the right time’
‘I’d have to give up everything I’ve worked so hard for’
‘What if I fail?’
I’ve asked myself these questions so many times over the years, and I find the truth is far from the lies we fill our own heads with.
1. Not in the right place financially
Are we ever? We often overestimate the amount of money we really need in order to survive. What we are truly afraid of is not having the money to enjoy the comforts we have enjoyed up to this point. Maybe to live your dream you need to give up air conditioning, or sell your car, or even shop at more modestly priced stores for food and clothing. But really, how much would we suffer? If we do the math, it really doesn’t end up so bad. Sit down and work it out and see what you really need to survive, and eliminate what isn’t essential.
2. It’s not the right time
The ‘right time’ for most people, never actually comes. For most, the right time is when everything is perfect, down to the most minute detail. ‘That will be my sign from the universe’ we say, but the sad truth is that there is no divine sign that will show us the way. We simply make our own luck, and there is no fate but what we make for ourselves. But while most of us are waiting for the right time, the successful people are out trying, doing, failing, and restarting, moving forward while the rest of us umm and ahh about our perfect moment.
3. ‘I’d have to give up everything I’ve worked so hard for’
No question here. This may be the only actual true story that we tell ourselves when contemplating our dreams. It is scary to change your path, and it is terrifying to think that you have to let go of all you’ve built so far. But you are bringing more with you than you think. Every experience, skill, every bit of knowledge you’ve accumulated in your life, it’s all there for you to take with you. The hard work you’ve put in made you the type of person who is strong enough to follow their dream and see it through to make it a reality. So it’s more like a caterpillar shedding its cocoon to become a butterfly (If you want a sappy analogy).
4. ‘What if I fail?’
I’ve got news for you. You will fail. There is no doubt. You will hit incredible roadblocks and people will tell you that you can’t do things. You will be told ‘no,’ ‘don’t,’ and ‘you can’t.’ This is guaranteed. Failure is part of the road to success. If you find 1000 ways to not do something, eventually you’ll find a way to do it. The secret is to not fear the failure, or if you still fear it, to do it anyway. To forget about what people will say of you and just go for it. You’ll be surprised how little most people care if you screw up over and over. When you succeed they’ll be proud of you either way.
The truly successful people are the doers. They are scared and shy and unsure like everyone else, but they do it anyway. This is because you have to realize that at the end of the day, the only person you truly need to answer to is yourself. You still have to look yourself in the mirror and know if you didn’t do everything you possibly could. But if you go out and take action with the knowledge and skill you have, there is no reason you won’t get exactly where you want to go.
So get to work.