I’ve spent the past six months thinking about this. It’s been on the back of my mind constantly, and at the front often.
It’s something I care deeply about. Making the most of it. Making the best use of it. Not wasting it. My time.
Ironically, because I’ve cared so much about not wasting my time, I’ve done exactly that. I’ve been caught up in trying to do it right. To do it all now. In analysis paralysis.
“Is this the right path?”
“Am I doing it right”?
“Is this the most efficient way to get from here to there, to reach my goals?”
These thoughts have been ever present. Every move questioned. Every step doubted. Every option over-analysed.
It’s brought what was a nicely chugging vehicle to a near stand still. Progress has slowed to a halt. And it’s not even as if I’m getting any rest, it’s been exhausting. Wasteful.
All because I missed something so simple. One simple truth that I knew but didn’t know. Something that only now has finally clicked.
There isn’t one path to take, there aren’t any. You’ve got to create your own.
I’ve spent way too long working out if this path was right, or that path. I’ve tried to “do it right”, putting off my gut instincts and ignoring what I’m good at.
No, there isn’t a “right way”, only best practices that work in some cases and not in others.
These best practices are important. They’re the general guidelines that have worked in the past, and will probably help in the future too. They help to shape our plans, but they shouldn’t drive them.
Instead, our plans should be driven by purpose, passion and intrigue.
Questioning is right, it’s healthy. But the questioning should never be about “what’s right” in a fixed sense, but what seems to make sense to do based on the data available to you now.
The best way to create your path is to collect data and try stuff.
Collecting that data involves listening to others stories, hearing about their successes, and their failures too. Picking out patterns and understanding the underlying principles behind it all.
Creating your own path isn’t shunning everyone else, being a closed off know it all. It’s the total opposite. It forces you to be more open because you’ll never know when other people’s paths will help guide yours, and how your story will help shape theirs.
That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself. Surround yourself with great people. Surround yourself with learning.
Store it all up. Soak it all in. After a while it starts to paint a picture, and this picture can help guide you as you paint your own.
Surround yourself with clever, creative, inspirational people. Surround yourself with the movers. Help them create their path, and let them help you create yours.
Allow yourself to dream. Think about how you want the world to be. Think about how you can make it more like that.
Set big audacious long term goals that will stretch you, and specific, attainable, short term smart goals that will help take you there.
Tell those you surround yourself with the dreams and tell them the goals. Let them be the ones to bring you back on path when you wander off, let them help you shake off the baggage and propel you forwards.
Then move. Create. Try. Experiment. Do. Follow your inquisition, do what you’re good at. Do what you enjoy.
After a while you’ll be known for that. You’ll be the person that does X. The loud one. The quiet one. The you one.
You’ll build an audience. A genuine bunch of people who like who you are and most of what you say.
People gravitate towards those who are real. Those who have integrity. We love transparency, we love vulnerability. Embrace all of this as you create your path. Bring others along for the journey, and in so doing help them to create theirs.
I know this because I’ve seen it. Just look at Paul Jarvis. He’s, well, Paul. He does things his way and he’s not afraid to show it. levels.io. He’s controversial, outspoken, and he makes things happen. DHH is similar. You can’t put him in a box.
I know this because I’ve felt it. I’ve experienced trying to find the “right path”, desperately searching for the industry approved short cuts, and I’ve found out that it doesn’t exist. It’s a myth. I’ve tried doing it this way, that way, the other way, and now I’m trying it my way.
So I’m gonna do me. And I encourage you, you do you. We’ll all embrace who we are and who we aren’t, and we’ll find our place. We’ll work hard, create value, all the while taking little steps towards our crazy dreams day by day. And at the end, we’ll look back at all the crazy things we did, every story gained and scar scabbed over, and say, “I did it my way. I did me. I gave it my all. I left my mark.”
Originally published at fredrivett.com on October 31, 2016.