The Only Way To Do It Is To Do It
A while back, I was talking to my three daughters about potential career paths when I mentioned becoming a pharmacist. My youngest daughter rolled her eyes and said “That sounds boring.”
My older twin daughters, who turn 18 today, chimed in, in unison:
“That’s why they call it work.”
I taught them that.
And I’m here to tell you, there’s absolutely no greater pride as a parent than hearing your children parrot back the inane ramblings you’ve been force feeding them their entire lives.
But that’s what children do, they pay attention to what you do and say, even when you’re not paying attention. That my friends is pressure.
And even though I know they’ve been paying attention. Even though I know they’ve heard what I’ve said, I worry. As my litte birds get ready to leave the nest, I worry that I haven’t done enough to teach them to fly. As they reach adulthood and head off to college, I worry that I haven’t done enough to prepare them to make their own way in the world.
So I hit on the idea that I needed to write everything down for them. Give them an instruction manual, of sorts. All the stuff, I’ve tried to tell them. All the advice I’ve tried to program into their little heads. Everything I thought they’d need to know. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the main reasons I started this blog in the first place. For them.
But, of course, I don’t know everything they need to know about life and even if I did, I couldn’t fit it into blog, a book or an encyclopedia set.
I’ve had 18 years to set them on the path of righteousness. All I can do at this point is hope all the unsolicited advice I’ve given is helpful. Hope they’ve heard what I’ve said, what I’ve tried to say and what I didn’t have the words to say.
If so, another 500 word blog post is unnecessary. If not, a 500,000 word Encyclopedia of Terryisms won’t help.
But I’m going to give it one more shot with the single most important thing I think they should know as they begin to create a life for themselves. And at 10 words, I could write it on a fortune cookie:
THE ONLY WAY TO DO IT IS TO DO IT
If the college experience in 2013 is anything like the one I had way back when, you’re going to spend a large chunk of the next 4 years sitting around talking, in classrooms and in dorm rooms, about life, philosophy, changing the world, saving the whales and how things are going to be better once your real life starts after college.
But here’s the thing: Life doesn’t start after you turn 18, after college, after you get a job, after you get married and have kids. Life doesn’t start a week from next Tuesday. Life is today.
And sitting around talking about all those things is not the same as doing something about all those things.
Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.
Life is now. And that’s all there really is.
The past and the future are both figments of your imagination. If there’s anything you want to do, you best be getting off your ass and doing it. Now.
If there’s something you want to be. Be it. Now.
If there’s something you want to happen. It’s not going to happen, unless you make it happen.
It’s all, totally and completely, up to you.
In his new book The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin talks about the pointlessness of waiting around to be picked to do the things you want to do. Waiting for someone to give you permission to be who you want to be. People spend their entire lives waiting for someone smarter, richer, more powerful and better connected to come along and give them that great job, or promotion, or life.
But you can’t wait for someone else to make your dreams come true.
There’s no job fairy waiting to anoint you with the perfect career.
There’s no magic potion you can drink to fill your life with meaning.
If you want to write. Write. If you want to sing. Sing. If you want to travel. Hit the road.
If you want to be a rodeo clown, buy a big red nose, some shiny pants and get out there and make some bulls look at you.
If you don’t know what you want to do. Do something. Anything. And if it’s not the right thing, do something else.
But no one is ever going to come along and tell you the right thing to do. How to do it. And give you permission to proceed. Not even me. You have to do that for yourself.
It’s all up you.
And the only way to do it is to do it.
I read a great article the other day about a guy who paid his way through college selling Crunch & Munch at pro sporting events.
But he didn’t just stand there handing out crappy overpriced snacks for a couple of bucks. He danced, sang, turned himself into a minor celebrity and made $500 bucks a night because he didn’t wait for permission to be amazing. No one gave him a promotion to be the CRUNCH & MUNCH GUY.
He made it happen.
When people find out how I spend my work day, sitting at home in my pajamas, talking on the phone and playing on the computer, a lot of them ask me where they can find a job like that. And I tell them the truth:
You can’t find a job like mine. They’re not on Craig’s List and Monster because they don’t exist. The only reason I have the job I have is because I invented it.
But I don’t want you to think it’s all unicorns and rainbows. I’ve been at this 30 years, and I still have to wake up everyday and make something happen. Because if I don’t make something happen, nothing happens. And bashful salespeople have skinny children.
We live in an amazing world, filled with infinite possibilities. You carry around a device in your pocket containing the sum total of all the knowledge from 100,000 years of human existence. You can learn anything you want to learn.
You can be whoever you want to be.
You can do anything you want to do.
There is no limit to what you can accomplish.
But there aren’t any guarantees either. Well, there is one guarantee. You can’t win the prize if you don’t roll the dice. You can’t win, if you’re too afraid to play. Guaranteed.
You can make amazing things happen for yourself and for the ones you love, or you can spend your life, like everyone else, bitching about the way things are.
The vast majority of people continually confuse bad luck with their own bad decisions. And the worst decision they make is not deciding to act.
Decide today to be the best you that you can be.
Decide today to grab life by the shorthairs and make it your bitch.
Your life is the story you choose to tell the world. Decide today what you want that story to be and go out and make it happen.
And if you wake up tomorrow and decide to change the story. That’s OK, too. You don’t need permission.
Just do it.