7 life lessons I learned from leaving the office and following my dreams
After two years in banking it’s safe to say that I was ready for a change. I remember staring out of my office window watching the main street traffic pass by day after day wondering if this is what life is? Get up, go to work, pay the bills, do your best, expect a 2% pay raise every year and hopefully save enough so by the time I’m 65 I can retire and then one day lay down and die and hopefully someone will remember the reason I lived and the things that I stood for.
For the first time in my life I started to think deeply about my purpose and not just the things that I wanted out of life but the ,”WHY” behind those things. The world had conditioned me to think about life in a completely materialistic way. Success in work was equated solely to income and prestige and the hopes of other peoples approval of my talents and abilities. Finally one day I woke up and decided to take charge of my own life and start to live on my own terms, free from others approval or presuppositions about what matters in life.
Was I scared? no doubt! I had just purchased my first home and as much as I wanted it to be easy, I had real bills to pay and no real experience other than my short time in commercial banking. In all honesty, I had no idea what I wanted to do, I just knew that sitting behind the desk wasn’t my dream. So after successfully breaking every rule for quitting your job I found work as a plumber for a local construction company. To say I was green would be an understatement. But I believed in myself, for what I lacked in trade skills, I made up for in my willingness to learn. All the while I kept my spirits high and continued my job search until I found my dream job as a Lineman with American Electric Power. The following list is what I have learned about the truth of following my dreams and what it means to define life for yourself…
- Hunger is the best sauce – when I decided I was leaving banking to pursue my dream career I had absolutely no experience. All I had was my hunger to pursue my dreams and follow my heart.
- The world can’t eat you – I stole this quote from my dad. After a long conversation on my financial concerns of taking a serious pay cut to learn a new skill, he politely informed me that nobody was going to eat me, even if I couldn’t pay my bills.
- You really should bet on yourself – the human spirit is an amazing thing. When I finally took the leap of faith I had nothing to lean on except my sheer will to succeed. Making the mortgage payment at the end of every month wasn’t easy and in some cases seemed near impossible, but guess what, I survived (and no one ate me #winning)
- Begin with the end in mind – All credit goes to Stephen Covey on this tip. In his famous book, “7 habits of highly successful people.” The author challenges readers to picture themselves giving a speech at their own eulogy. When I came to the realization that when I die, I probably won’t be talking about my job, my money, or anything materialistic, I begin to put my priorities in line. My faith grew, I came to peace with the fact that my life was in southwest Virginia and I began to focus on making an impact in my community and started to invest in relationships first over my own personal agenda.
- Nothing comes without work and time – Our millennial generation is truly the most impatient of all generations before. We want things that it took our grandparents a life to obtain and we want them yesterday. As I start my Lineman career I’ll have to start where everyone starts, at the bottom. I wish I could snap my fingers and have the tacit knowledge that my father has after 25 years of experience as a lineman, but guess what, there are no short cuts in life. The only way to become valuable in your respective field is by honest hard work and father time.
- Showing up really is 90% of the battle – When I left banking and started plumbing, I was amazed at the amount of time that people would actually show up late to work. I heard it all through college that showing up was half the battle but in all honesty, if any man or woman is willing to just show up and give an honest effort you would be amazed at what you could accomplish.
- Define your Why for work – When I was a banker I honestly couldn’t pin point my why for getting up and going to work. I was there more or less to draw a check and pay the bills. My, “Why” was nothing more than a selfish reflection of my own materialistic agenda to obtain status in the world. My new, “why” is filled with passion and excitement. I have the honor of playing a small role of keeping the lights on in my community. When the powers out, it’s my job to turn it back on and do it safely. For the first time I am apart of something much bigger than myself. I can truly say that I’ve found my why.
I’ll close with this quote
Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.
– Gail Devers