I want to talk to you about a friend of mine. Out of respect for him I’ll change his name. We’ll call him Peter.
Peter is 38. He works a dull monotonous job in a call centre. He works 6 days a week, on shifts between 7am and 7pm.
Peter hates his job. His facebook statuses often read “can’t wait for Sunday”, or “just 3 more weeks and I get to go on Holiday!”.
He fell into this job after leaving school. Admittedly he didn’t really know what he wanted to do, but by working hard and a dash of chance he learned how to do a bit pf programming and now works within the call centres IT department.
He has no interest in what the company he works for delivers, he just does the job because he can do it, he’s pretty good at it and he wants the money. He focuses each year on his £1000 wage rise which sometimes he doesn’t get due to cuts. That rise when he gets it amounts to about £40 extra a month after tax and NI deducations. He’s been there for over 5 years now.
He doesn’t get to see his kids much. He commutes 40 mins there and 40 mins back everyday, sometimes longer when the traffic is bad. He gets on with the people he works with, but if he didn’t work with them he wouldn’t have much to do with them if he’s honest. Some of them annoy him. And his manager treats him like rubbish.
He has no respect for the owner of the company. Whom he is working hard to make rich. And the owner of his company has no obligation to make him happier or give him more money.
He is sometimes expected to work late, for no extra money, and when he does he resents it.
He focuses on the 2 hours each evening in front of the TV that he gets to himself after feeding the kids and putting them to bed, then making his own dinner. He’s too tired to stay up any later. He focuses on his 1 day out of every 7 that he gets to do what he wants to do for a change. And even then spends the evening of that day dreading work the next morning. He dreams about his 4 weeks in every 52 where he blows what little he’s saved up on an expensive holiday to escape his routine life. He gets the holiday blues when he returns, and he gets the Monday blues every week.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Peter feels he can’t leave his job as he thinks he has no other skills. He feels trapped.
He will very likely do this job, or one like it now until he can’t work any longer, and he’ll rely on a rubbish pension and benefits to get through retirement with.
Here’s the problem.
Peter isn’t doing the right work. He’s not inspired. He’s not motivated. He’s not doing what makes him tick. This thing will be different for all of us, but whatever Peter’s is, he’s not doing it.
In his spare time Peter runs marathons. He loves them. He does a variety of running, mud runs, half marathons, full ones, fell running, cross country. It’s his escape. He’s been doing it for years, and he’s good at it.
Peter thinks he doesn’t have anything to offer of value, but he does. For example, Peter could very easily help add value to other people. Perhaps beginner runners who want to know how to get started. Maybe he could produce a course or a plan for them to guide them from nothing to getting to his level. Maybe he could help beginner marathon runners learn how to train and prepare their bodies. Perhaps he could organise his own mud run somewhere and maybe it might become a potential business. Perhaps Peter could use his IT skills to build websites for race event organisers. Perhaps he could build an e-commerce site and start selling running equipment.
If Peter asked people what they wanted help with, Peter might find himself inundated with requests that might help him identify what he could do to add value based on the knowledge he has.
Peter could do this in his spare time. 2 hours every evening dedicated to growing his new business, instead of watching TV on the sofa dreading work the next day. That’s 14 hours a week. It might mean later to bed, but he’d now be working on an exit strategy. A way to ditch the main job one day and do something he loves. Peter would be able to enjoy his work, add value to others and have a purpose. He’d be happier, more fulfilled, and he’d be more popular to be around. He’d think more positively, he’d become more creative in his ideas. He’d build more confidence and realise that it wasn’t all as scary as he thought it would be.
Above all, and most importantly, he’d have a plan.
When we don’t know what we want to do in life we are effectively walking in the forest with no map. We don’t know which way to go. It’s then easy to end up down the wrong path which leads for miles and miles in the wrong direction.
When you have your map you know exactly where to go. You know which courses to enrol on, which books to read, and where to focus your time and energy. I call it laser focus.
And trust me, when you have laser focus on your goal you will get a lot more done than when you were scrambling around in the dark grabbing anything you could that seemed like the right thing to do.
The first step is identifying what it is you want to do. You can’t go anywhere until you solve that. And the answer is within you somewhere, you just need to unlock it.