It’s at this time of the year that holiday ads and window displays are ubiquitous — you can’t avoid them. In the past, they didn’t affect me. I’m not a big shopper and the week before Christmas is typically filled with frantic google searches to the tune of “best gift ideas for your mom”.
This year, though, the holiday hype has hit me like an 18 wheeler. Why? It reminds me just how much has changed in the past few years.
This time in 2016 I was stocking Star Wars figures on the Toys R Us shelves wishing I could be literally anywhere else. I wanted a change but my dreams were distant and I was paralyzed by the idea of fear. So, I continued mindlessly stocking toys.
It’s November 2017 now, and I work full time on my own schedule in the largest city in America. Just this week I shot the cover of a magazine, a body of work I managed and built from scratch. Life isn’t perfect but today, I am proud to say that there is nothing else that I would rather be doing.
Lately, I have become obsessed with progress. With constantly becoming better. To those of you reading who haven’t yet followed their dreams, here is my advice — a few things that have helped me these past twelve months:
1.) Time will forever be more valuable than a check.
Time is the one resource that you can’t get back. Invest your time as you would money. Make sure that with each day, each week, and each month you are spending your time in a way that betters you and pushes you closer to your goals or the person you want to be.
2.) Don’t get lost in the goal of paying your bills.
Living hand to mouth is a death spiral. Many of my friends get caught in an endless cycle of making just enough to pay their rent and buy food and never give themselves a foothold to do what they really want.
At one point I worked at a pizza parlor, went to school full time, and was a starting midfielder on my college lacrosse team. I was doing everything in my power to fill my days and get by, but I wasn’t making time for anything I was truly passionate about.
Having cash on hand and paying all your bills on time is our societal definition of success, but as far as I am concerned, if you aren’t moving forward and doing the things that resonate most with you, you are failing.
3.) Stop whining, start doing.
After a while I realized complaining to my friends about my frustrations would never result in anything beneficial, just continuous self-doubt.
I started calling in sick at work, ditching class, and not showing to practice to instead take a train for an hour and a half to take photos in San Francisco, by myself. Nobody else.
Money spent on luxuries was instead spent on filling the gas tank of my roommate’s car so I could drive up north to shoot at Point Reyes or Mt. Tamalpais. I would go to everything and anything Instagram based, meet-up here, photo walk there. I sacrificed hours towards my paycheck and the money and time I had committed towards my education, to prioritize my desires first.
I met my current boss at a meet-up in which some of my now closest friends hosted. I was doing what I loved and met like minded people.
Following my passions led me to opportunities to help me further follow my passions. People think you have to have it figured out before you take action but the truth is you have to take action to figure it out.
Today, I do exactly what I fucking love. Every day. I dropped out of college, quit lacrosse, and ended up quitting my job at the pizzeria and followed my heart to get here.
4.) “But I don’t have the time to do that.”
If you’re happy with your life and the job you are working this doesn’t apply to you.
But if you want something, start making time for it. Working double on something you’re passionate about isn’t a struggle if you actually love it. That’s not to say things won’t be difficult, but if you really love it, you’ll find a way to be equipped to tackle the challenges you face.
If you’re bitching and complaining about not having the hours to do what you want, you’re the one wasting your time. Getting tossed with your friends at the local bar could be time spent creating your next pitch to that company you want to work with.
Stop doing things you don’t enjoy, serving a temporary satisfaction. Stop complaining when you realize it’s a problem. Start making time and doing what you love to serve a purpose and happiness.
Waste Not, Want Not.
The term ‘waste not, want not’ was an old practice devised among the Native Americans. This practice was traditionally found within their hunting and gathering techniques.
As they primarily hunted buffalo, they found use of every portion of its body. Obviously the skin/hide was to be used for clothing and shelter, and the meat was harvested and cooked for food. Tendons and sinew for thread, additionally served as material for stitches now and then. Foot bones to make ‘toy buffalos’ or teething objects for infants. The scrotum, used as containers, or disgustingly enough, rattles.
We have a lot to learn about our predecessors’ practices. I personally, have found the ‘waste not, want not’ theory to be most true within my day to day job, specifically when devising plans for the use of any public-made effort.
Looking back at my previous job, we launched dozens of campaigns over the span of the three years that I worked there. Spending thousands of dollars to execute a campaign, we wanted to ensure that we weren’t wasting our time, money, sweat and tears.
We devised the I.D.E.A. format, a formulaic strategy that would make sure our efforts were heard:
Identify - Launch a campaign. I mean, fucking launch it. Pay influencers to promote it, put up posters in places they’ll be seen, run paid ads. It doesn’t matter, just put it out there.
Document - Document everything. Take photos of the ideation process, from whiteboard, to launch, to the campaign itself, and the aftermath. Screencap articles published about the campaign, it doesn’t matter.
Expose - Publish articles on campaign efforts. Post photos on what’s going on. Show those paying attention what you’re doing and where it all lives.
Amplify - Almost identical to the identify stage, we’re pushing materials and data from the end result fo the campaign, to the public. All content created during the document stage should see the light of day in some capacity.
After months of executing this strategy, we had everlasting blog content, imagery that was applicable to future promotional material, and a never-ending flow of content that served as case study work to utilize for new business efforts.
Maybe it sounds like a lot of additional work, but at least it helped me sleep at night to know the hard work will pay off.