If you could do anything, what would you do? If you could create something, what would you create? If you could live the good life, what would it look like?
More importantly, what are you waiting for?
In over a century of industrialization, we’ve been brainwashed.
Brainwashed by the rules that the powerful have set for the rest of us factory workers, to ensure their status at the top, and to crush our ambition.
The nine to five, compliance, suit and tie and polished shoes, degrees, playing it safe, keeping your head down, fitting in and working up the ladder.
Leave your inquisition at the door, follow someone else’s instructions and you’ll get to where you want to go. Swallow your pride, and give up on your dreams.
In the last decade, things have changed; we’re not living in an industrial world anymore and following rules is overrated.
Iain Duncan Smith, take note, there’s a revolution happening under your nose and it’s called the internet. We don’t need permission to create or share our work, and the world wide web wasn’t built for looking at cat videos on YouTube (that’s just a wonderful side effect).
It was built to connect us. Anyone with a laptop or a smartphone is now connected to almost everyone else on the planet. An individual can spread a global message from anywhere in the world. You can tweet William Shatner from space.
Evil dictatorships can be toppled and governments can be embarrassingly exposed. A savvy teenager can question the status quo, design an app, create thousands of jobs and build a multi-billion dollar company.
The online landscape is a place where your work, whatever that is, can, and should, be shared.
Playing it safe worked well, up until quite recently. The process of doing what you’re told and adhering to the rules set by those above you is being tested.
There’s a reason why these rules about starting at the bottom and gradually working our way up have been engrained in us—the used to work. Maybe in a few years of working hard, playing by the system, and keeping your head down, you’d become a manager, and then who knows.
But it doesn’t work anymore. You think all those people whose jobs are now redundant are glad they didn’t question the rules?
Making a living is harder than ever, and tradition is no longer safe. Unless you’re ambitious, have metaphorical balls or ovaries, and take initiative, there’s a high probability that soon a computer will build what you’re building, a robot will stack what you’re stacking, or an e-commerce site will sell what your selling.
The only security that’s left is outside the old box, in your work.
If you’re worried about what happens when people see your work, don’t be. Critics are everywhere, and finding somebody to point out your mistakes is easy.
There will always be someone happy to point out what you’re doing wrong and tell you how to improve. Everyone believes they can edit your work, offer feedback, and criticize, but a life of criticism and cynicism is dull and tired.
A dedication to ideas, creation, design, and sharing your work is not. It’s the epitome of excitement and thrill.
It’s not the world’s fault if you’re not where you want to be, not doing the work you want to do and not passionate about what you do.
Nobody says you have to live by the old system of waiting to be selected. Actually, scrap that, maybe somebody is telling you to follow the old system, but you don’t have to listen. It’s an antique lottery of adherence that nobody wins anymore.
Select yourself, stop waiting for somebody else to say go, and create your project. Make your work public, let it connect with people or drive them away, and nurture an audience of people who care.
It’s scary, but is it as scary as living a life that doesn’t fill you with excitement? The power to change your circumstances is in your hands, and it revolves around spreading your message.
No one’s going to teach you what to do, and there is no tested route to travel. There are no rules written in a book, directing you down the right path.
Sack the framework, get it wrong repeatedly, get lost, try again, and aim big.
Your work might not be accepted or embraced, and that’s fine. You gave it a shot, and you lived.
Dave Gill is cycling an 11,000 mile loop of North America, meeting a variety of people, and studying their lifestyle choices. From entrepreneurs to yodeling cowgirls, you can follow the journey through film, photos and words, at www.vaguedirection.com/ and www.facebook.com/vaguedirection
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Assist: Olivia Gray/Ed:Kate Bartolotta