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Our system is broken. Our culture is suffering. And the solution is more accessible than ever. So why are so many people not doing what they love?

More than ever before we’re seeing that the old advice of “Go to school, get a degree, and you’ll get a good job,” just doesn’t work for the majority of people. Reports keep coming out about how millennials are unemployed or taking jobs that have nothing to do with what they went to school for.

Raise your hand if you know someone who got a degree in a field they wanted to work in and is not working in that field. Or how about someone with a college degree that just isn’t working at all?

Yea, I thought so.

So what’s the problem? Well, I’m no expert but I have a theory. I think what our current system is teaching us is that we need permission.

The Process

In school, our teachers give us our assignments. In the workforce, our employer gives us our job description and assigns us specific tasks. But when we don’t have someone else telling us what to do, we spend all our time looking for someone who will tell us what to do.

The mentality is “I need to find a job so I can do what I love.” College grads are too busy filling out applications and mailing out resumes to realize that they don’t need someone else to give them permission to do what they love to do.

This sort of inaction can be a killer.

The Solution

Thanks to technology, the internet, social media, and the ease of access there is no excuse for not doing work you are passionate about, especially if you’re the creative type. You can press start today.

So you want to be a designer? Don’t wait for a creative agency to hire you according to your college portfolio. Start creating your own design projects and sharing them online.

You want to be a writer? Don’t wait for a publisher, agency, or magazine to hire you. Start a blog and get to writing.

You want to be a radio show host? Don’t wait for a station to accept your application. Start a podcast.

You want to be a reporter or journalist? Don’t wait for a studio to give you an assignment. Start a YouTube channel and start interviewing people about interesting things.

You want to be an actor? Don’t wait for your “big break”. Find some people who want to make films, and go tell some great stories.

I could go on and on here, but the point is to decide what you want to do, and go do it. Press start. You don’t need permission. You don’t need an assignment. Go create.

Disclaimer

Now, I understand that there are some professions that have limitations, and couldn’t necessarily be “started” on your own. For instance if you want to be a surgeon, please don’t go out and just start operating on people. That could have some negative repercussions.

Or, if your dream is to be in the secret service, please don’t go find the president and try to jump in as a bodyguard– I don’t think that will turn out well for you.

But if there is a way for you to start doing the thing you want to do, just start doing it! Take action toward your dreams every day.

Being Active Helps Land the Gig

Even if your ultimate profession isn’t something that is entrepreneurial and requires an employer, you can still be active. Here’s a few ways to be active in your industry, even if you don’t have a job:

Social media

Filling out your LinkedIn profile isn’t enough. To stay sharp in your industry, I assume you’re reading articles and news about the industry on a regular basis. Why not grow your social media presence as a resource for your industry?

Example: If you’re an IT professional, use social media to share the articles you’re reading about IT. Networks like Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Facebook can help you become recognized as a resource in that industry.

Blogging

Odds are you have some thoughts, ideas and perspectives on your industry. Having a personal blog where you share these thoughts and ideas can be a great way of showing potential employers how qualified you are.

Meetups

Find a local meet up of people in your industry. Odds are, they’re either working in the field, or looking to make connections in that field. This is a great way to network and gain exposure to opportunities.

Press Start

Creativity thrives on action. So press start. Go do what it is you want to do and share it with the world. You don’t need someone else to give you permission. All you need is the desire to make it happen.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

As a bonus, you can listen to a similar rant from Chris Brogan from his Human Business Way podcast here. I actually had started brainstorming this blog post back in June when Chris released his podcast rant about this same topic. It’s only 4 minutes long and definitely worth the listen.

What action are you going to take today for something you’re passionate about? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post! Being a 22 year old fresh out of college (okay fine, I’m finishing up a few classes online), I definitely find this to be true. However, I think what is even more difficult is the vast amount of options there are for us.

    I went to college to be a worship leader and along the way I ran into graphic design, church media, blogging, motion graphics, videography, and plenty of other options I could see myself doing. I think the hardest part has ben for me the fear of failure. It looks more like “well what if I wind up doing motion graphics and the look back in 5 years wishing I had just been a worship leader or an audio engineer,” or something similar.

    It’s this crossroads that us millennials face. We get so busy looking at all of our options that we wind up just thinking in circles and never wind up taking a first step. And even when you do take the first step you sometimes wonder if you just made a huge mistake.

    So I think there’s great truth and encouragement in your post. It’s what I needed to hear, but I think many fresh-out-of-college-ers need a reminder that it’s okay for us to fail and make mistakes.

    Thanks for a solid post and I’m glad that I have already started, to some degree, a new interest of mine!

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Alex! I’ve talked before about what I think about the fear of failure. Your journey sounds a lot like my own. I never went to school for graphic design, web design, branding, or social media marketing, but here I am! lol

      I think God just likes to keep us on our toes.

  2. says

    Great post!

    And it can’t be said enough. Whether it’s you, Chris Brogan or Seth Godin, the message is an important one. We simply can’t wait for the perfect job to show up on Indeed or our perfect relationship to walk into a coffee shop.

    It’s time to get out there, create and “make art”.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. says

    Fabulous, inspiring article. After 30 years of teaching, I am just now learning some of these very important things, and I am very thankful. It’s never too late to learn, right? I am an elementary drama teacher and spend a large portion of each school day participating in creative and imaginative play. Play is a great place for creativity to be nourished. Thank you for the great encouragement.
    Darcy Hill
    http://imaginationcollaborationteacher.blogspot.com

  4. says

    Bang on Dustin. As an entrepreneur myself, all I can say is do it. I’ve had days (in the beginning) where I had to borrow rent money as well as days later in where I was blessed by great clients who allowed me to plop down 6 figures (cash) to buy a house AND take a year off to battle stage 4 cancer. It takes grit, it takes passion and it takes tenacity – but mostly passion.

  5. Carl Pettypiece says

    That’s all very good and inspiring, and I hear messages like this a lot on social media. I would love to follow my passion, and I wish someone would’ve told me this 30 years ago. But who will put bread on the table, pay the mortgage, help the kids through college? If I follow my dream, I will be turning down a pay check and turning my back on my chosen (albeit dissatisfying) career. True, I don’t need permission to quit my job, but wisdom comes with age and it tells me that we don’t always get to do what we want.

  6. Carolyn Jayne says

    Great article Justin, very encouraging.

    In response to Alex. Reading this article as a baby boomer, 30 years down the road from where you are.

    There were so many things I wanted to try that I allowed myself to be paralyzed by indecision. Now, I find myself regretting all that I did not do. The “if only’s” haunt me. Where would I be today “if only” I’d spent a mere 5 years pursing a career, only to find out it wasn’t what I really wanted to do ? By these numbers I could tried 6 different careers, if none of them had worked out. I feared failing so much, and that’s exactly what I did. I find myself in a career that, pays the bills but, it’s not my passion.

    My advice, if I so boldly may, trying something new does not have to be for the rest of your life. With age comes growth, and with growth there’s change. Stop and think, do you still enjoy doing the things you did as a child ? Playing with Barbie holds no interest for me now. Regret screams failure much louder then changing your mind ever will.

    Funny thing is, what I really want to do now, is exactly what I wanted to do 30 years ago !

    To quote T.H. Palmer,”Tis a lesson you should heed, If at first you don’t succeed,Try, try again”.

  7. says

    Hi Dustin, it’s great to read a post about what inspires us, first thing on a Monday morning. It’s easy to get caught up in what we believe we have to do to pay the bills, rather than letting out passions dictate how we make our living.

    Have a wonderful week.

  8. Carlos says

    Great post Dustin! You are right that in today’s digital world it is so much easier to do work that you are passionate about. We all might have different paths to get there but we have no excuse to not take action.

    In my case I went to college and got a degree in an area that I am passionate about but never really had that fulfilling job. Despite this, I decided that I would not let that stop me and instead took action and I am now following my passion. I’m doing it on the side and building it up, but still following my passion.

  9. says

    OMG Dustin, what awesome advice! I work with Mia Voss, so I got to see you on her weekend power chat, which lead me here, which lead me to this site. :D

    I can’t agree more on this – I’m one of those people, who had been told to go to college, get a degree, and to get a job. I did go to college, doing what I enjoyed at the time (music), but after three years, I didn’t think college was for me; however one of my advisors was like “you’re so close, just finish”; four years later, I went to the ceremony, but never graduated. Fast forward to the downfall of our economy and my boss at the time suggested I consider freelance writing, as I was a writer, had always wanted to be a writer, etc.

    It took me a move and a few months of freelance writing before it dawned on me that I was doing what I had always wanted to do.

    You’re right that college just regurgitates the whole just get a degree, that solves everything; but as we can see, our education system (THE WHOLE THING) is broken. I can honestly say that at my brick and mortar college, I don’t remember anything I learned there, even the musical stuff that was supposed to help me in my music career. I still feel that my online learning has taught me so much more (especially when I’ve written about several things in technology).

    On social media, I didn’t really use it until I was doing a lot of freelance writing and like you and Mia, I heart heart heart G+ and I fully admit that it’s the better network as a whole. I’m still surprised at the fact at how many people are following me, when I’m not at all a celebrity; I just post silly posts, but I can definitely tell you, with a little engagement, you’ll go hella far.

    Long story short (lol), this was a great post and I loved your insights here and on the power chat!

  10. says

    I can’t agree more. I operate out of fear of failure so often as an artist. I “worry” nobody will like my work and nothing will sell, etc. Yet, I just completed a layout on my second book of images on Blurb.
    Just “Press Start” and with all these things at our fingertips it doesn’t matter if anyone buys or loves my work. I love it – and it makes me happy ~

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