Wake Up and Do the Work

Sometimes we all get a little frustrated with where we are in life. The prospect of The American Dream seems harder to achieve than it was 40, 30, or even 20 years ago. And even if you argue that it is just as challenging as it’s ever been, I think you’d be hard pressed to argue that the path to that Dream is as clear as it once was.

You used to got to college, get a career with your major, and work a the same company for 45 years if possible. Nowadays if you go to college, you’re more than likely going to get a job that has nothing to do with your major (or is kind of major-adjacent), and staying with the same company for decades on end likely means you’re not living up to your full potential. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but this is becoming more and more the norm.

I definitely fall into this new generation of Dream-seekers. My degree prepared me for a career in television production, but I have done next to no production work since graduating college. I was a retail manager for 5 years and now work for an online payment processing company. I’m happy with where I’ve been able to grow my career until this point, but I have much broader aspirations that I would like to achieve in the ~40 years before I retire.

In order to know how to move forward to that next step, I have to look back as how I got to where I am today. I’m in a pretty technical role in my current job, and it’s one that I have no formal training to be qualified for. I didn’t write a line of code in college, and I didn’t write any real code before the age of 23, but I have since developed a technical background that I used to get a job. I learned web design skills, I developed websites, and I wrote this blog. I went from completely unqualified to an ideal candidate for this job by doing those things.

But none of that came for free or was easy. I woke up early, I went to bed late, I set aside other hobbies, and I hunkered down and did the work. As I wrote a last week, I work my ass off for BirchTree and you can see the effort in the work that I put out. Did I put this site on my resume? You’re damn right I did, and it helped me get in the door.

I’ve also put in the work to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Again, this was an early morning/late night learning situation, and was incredibly frustrating at times, but I’m so glad I did it.

So when I look at moving into the future, when I consider my next steps, I know that the answer is to get to work. There are absolutely life events that I don’t want to miss out on, and I must attempt to be a good husband/friend/brother/son, but there are so many other distractions I must be wary of. It’s very easy to wake up and spend my entire morning on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, or in a video game. It’s very easy to come home at the end of day and turn on the TV and turn off your brain for prime time television. It’s hard to do the productive things that will get you to the next level, but you’ll only get there by saying no to the easy thing and saying yes to the hard thing.

No one got ahead in life by clearing out their YouTube Watch Later queue or being a Twitter timeline completionist. Treat these digital escapes like candy; they’re good to have in your life (a world without chocolate isn’t a world I want to live in) but they’re an accent, they’re not your main course.