Stick At Something Long Enough, And It’s Gonna Pop!

The first step is to get started. Build slowly, and when the time is right, break free from that shitty job and fly solo.

silhouette of a man and a woman celebrating on the beech for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash

The first step is to get started. Build slowly, and when the time is right, break free from that shitty job and fly solo.

It’s tough, y’know?

We have utility bills that have to pay, and there is food that has to be bought. Kids need school books and uniforms, and having dinner out with the family on a Saturday afternoon is a luxury you can’t usually afford.

Your job stinks, and things are tight, but how can you possibly leave and do something that otherwise commands your curiosity? You’ll be broke as a pie crust inside the first month!

So instead, you work at things you’d rather not and endure the daily torturous feeling that you left something real behind. That you exchanged your favourite thing for something bright and shiny that never really worked. You were sold a pup, and now you feel that your favourite thing may be gone forever.

You’re not alone.

The 2019 World Happiness Report suggests that in America, most adults feel unhappy, and that’s despite material affluence[1]. The decline in happiness has been suggested to reflect a decline in social capital and social support. One of the authors of the report, Jean M. Twenge, indicates that how we spend our leisure time is another factor. I would hazard to suggest that work satisfaction is also a significant factor.

You see, we’ve been caught in a game, not of our own design and we’ve been playing by someone else’s rules. As such, for many of us, it’s hard to see a way out. It’s impossible to envision a future where we can actually make a living at that creative work we’re drawn to do.

From the time we were kids, we have been sold on the notion that getting a good education and working hard will give us everything we need. Forget about what you’re interested in, stick to traditional subjects like science, engineering, mathematics and languages and you’ll be ok. Although perhaps not explicit, it is implicit in the narrative.

I’m not suggesting traditional education is a bad idea, of course not. But a too regimental and narrow focus on too few subjects does not give kids of varying interests and abilities a fair chance. As Julian Astle wrote in a 2018 article for the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts (RSA)[3];

“if the maximum number of children are to be given the greatest possible chance of realising their creative potential, schools need to provide and rich and broad curriculum that includes the so-called creative subjects that are the visual and performing arts”

In many ways, we’ve been misdirected. We’ve been shown a road down which most everyone we know has gone down. We entered the system that focused on a narrow vein of intelligence at the expense of our inherent interests.

For many of us, the grand plan hasn’t worked, the colourful dream didn’t come true. As Sir Ken Robinson said in a 2007 speech on creativity in education[2];

“Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason. Around the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So the hierarchy is rooted in two ideas. Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds you would never get a job doing that.

Is that right? “Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist.” Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution. And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities design the system in their image.

I’ll add to this by suggesting that those kids who don’t come up to the measure of intelligence required for third-level are pushed towards lower grade employment. And all this funnelling of human potential is designed for one thing; to feed the insatiable appetite of the capitalist beast.

But there is a solution. For those of us who refuse to waste our lives fulfilling someone else’s idea of a life well-lived, we have a choice.

We can start small and take our time. Whatever it is; play the guitar, dance, sing, plant a vegetable garden, make pies — we can build a sustainable living from it. We just need belief, patience and commitment to develop the skills.

We don’t need to build a corporation and take over the world. The world has enough headcases with aspirations of global dominance. In fact, I’d encourage you to run a million miles away from these ideas because it’s the same fool’s gold that convinces us of the value of working jobs for other people.

Instead, dedicate yourself to your hobby — at the very least it will make you smile. Then when you’ve accumulated sufficient skills, start selling your wares. Build a sustainable business of one and develop a following for your work.

Making A Case For A Business of One
Most of us work for other people doing work we hate. It makes us weak, dependent & materialistic. So is there an…medium.com

It will take time and dedication, but it will be worth it. Or you know what, it might not take too much time at all.

In 2002, I was only twelve months in business for myself, when a guy I knew referred me to an associate. I landed a 36k project, completed it inside three months and made more money in that time than I had in a whole year working under direct employment.

That was a lot of money back then.

So it can happen, and I would argue that it is bound to happen when we follow our creative urges and really get with it. It’s Purposeful Accident in action.

I firmly believe — and my overwhelming wish is to convince you too — that once we get into that thing that sets us on fire, stick with it long enough, then something will pop.

And I swear to god, you’ll have a big stupid smile on your face like never before. The feeling of verification will be overwhelming.

So start. Do something to make yourself smile. Life is too short.

Article References

  1. The Sad State of Happiness in the United States and the Role of Digital Media. (2019). Retrieved 11 September 2019, from https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2019/the-sad-state-of-happiness-in-the-united-states-and-the-role-of-digital-media/

  2. Robinson, K. (2019). Do schools kill creativity?. Retrieved 11 September 2019, from https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

  3. Astle, J. (2018). Do schools really “kill creativity”? — RSA. Retrieved 11 September 2019, from https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/rsa-blogs/2018/04/do-schools-kill-creativity

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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