As exciting as it would be to randomly throw things out and see what sticks, it’s a good idea to have a plan. Take the time to master your craft and be patient enough to understand how your market works before putting yourself out there.
I had a Lady GaGa quote as my wallpaper for the longest time. “Your career won’t wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” As cynical as it sounds, it’s still true.
When you think of your career as a relationship, you refuse to settle. It is such an important part of your life, so you should make sure that your needs and passions are being met.
It’s not easy to switch career paths after some years have gone by, especially because it’ll mean having to start from scratch again. This is why you should try to pick what’s best for you from the beginning.
It is the Nigerian career revolution, and more people are daring to follow their passions and dreams, despite the fear, usual lack of support, and risks.
As exciting as it all seems, only the dreamers who are patient and willing to put in the work will actually make it. So if you’re one of those people still considering whether or not to use your talent/follow your dreams, here are a few things I’ve learned so far that could help you decide.
What does it have to offer?
When considering this, you should know what is most important to you. Not just right now, but also in the long run. In 20 years, will a steady salary be enough to show for all your hard work? Will this job satisfy you in the most meaningful ways? Will it give you room to grow personally and professionally? Ask yourself what you truly want, and choose the field that checks your most important boxes.
Talent is not a marketable skill
Naturally knowing how to do something is only the beginning. You need to develop what you know to the standard that is required as a professional. You have to turn your talent into something you can sell, and that takes work. This might mean having to take classes and interning to learn exactly what is required of you.
It takes time to blow
It’s happened so many times that someone would show me their work and my first thought would be: “Why isn’t this online?” “You could have opened shop by now.” But then I came to understand that there is usually a lengthy process, especially with creatives. You don’t want to put work out there until it is absolutely ready. There are also certain barriers to entry.
Sometimes, it’s just not the right time. As exciting as it would be to randomly throw things out and see what sticks, it’s a good idea to have a plan. Take the time to master your craft and be patient enough to understand how your market works before putting yourself out there. There’s no need to rush. After all, you’ll be doing this for life.
The learning never stops
Being a master of your craft means you constantly have to learn how to do things in new and better ways. Learning new styles and methods will keep your work fresh and up to date. It will also keep you interested. Is there a new style trending? Maybe it doesn’t fit into your brand, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning how to do it. Sticking only to the ‘way you know’ will have you getting left behind. Embrace change in your field as it comes and evolve with it.
Don’t seek approval
Seeking other people’s approval is like asking for permission to be happy. You shouldn’t expect to get support right away, be it emotional or financial. If you get it, great. But if you don’t, that shouldn’t stop you from chasing what you want. It’s not a reason to quit either. The people around you most likely will not believe in you and what you’re trying to do until you prove yourself. You’ll have to be your own cheerleader for a while, so feel free to screenshot all the motivational quotes you want. It also helps to make friends with like-minded people that you can share ideas and grow with.
After a certain point, compromise is simply settling. When it comes to what you want for your life, be stubborn about it. You need to understand the reality of where you are and the limitations that you face. But that should only be the start. Figure out ways to overcome the obstacles and fight for what you want. If you won’t settle for a mediocre marriage, then you shouldn’t ‘manage’ a mediocre career.
Enjoy the process
The process is part of the experience. It’s finding out exactly what it takes to get where you want to be. It won’t be easy, and you shouldn’t expect it to be. Think of the journey as something you enjoy doing, like playing a game. It’s not just about the high score at the end, it’s mostly about the process of getting there.
When choosing a career, you’re allowed to be selfish. It is easier to be good at a job you’re passionate about, just like it is easier to be a good spouse to someone you love.
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