If you’re like me, you’re continually making goals, and trying to figure out how to where you’ve never been before from where you’re at. I feel you. I’m also trying to hack reality. I’ve had some successes, and some failures as well. I understand the struggles beneath the surface appearance of civilized society.
The last couple of years, I’ve made my full-time living from web design and development. I came to the game a little later than most, but this is not a disadvantage in my eyes. It’s made me more intentional about my choices.
Being skillful at your craft is essential to earning a living, but if people are familiar with you and like who you are, that makes it even easier. Being unknown is a detriment. Anonymity forces you to prove yourself to every fresh set of eyes and ears you encounter. Most people want less gatekeepers between themselves and their goals, not more. Wherever possible, make sure the doors in front of you are already open. Meet others within your industry face to face whenever possible. To have doors unlocked ahead of you, you must gain trust of the community, one person at a time.
Writing and sharing what you have learned helps greatly. Knowledge is something that wants to be shared, and y helping others, you help yourself to grow as well. A taller challenge is to be in the places where people meet, and keep expanding your presence. Traveling to local events is a good place to start. True friendships are formed by doing things with other people. Intimate trust is something that cannot be gained through social media. Your lasting impressions will be made in the presence of others. This is a basic human feature that will probably never change. I believe this is why many web companies still have issues supporting remote teams, even though we possess all the tools to do it. People simply feel better about people that they hang out with versus people they don’t see face to face.
It seems important to go to the larger events and conferences as soon as possible. There are many people you will likely never get to meet otherwise. Rapport seems easier to develop with those who you physically meet at events such as these. I also believe it alters people’s perception of you if you have the time and resources to travel to different conferences often. It means you are doing something right, and that you are successful enough to make it happen. Perhaps this legitimacy is something that I strive for because I have always sought acceptance from my peers.
The large barrier for most people is the time and the financial constraint of traveling. But there is a great deal of legitimacy that comes from speaking, having a podcast, or writing a book. In order to achieve any of these, you must have something to say that others perceive as having value. The speakers on the event stages have made great sacrifices of time and effort to prepare, research, rehearse and deliver their knowledge to others. If you wish to be where they are, you must make those same sacrifices.
There is a great deal of envy, desire, and admiration of industry celebrities. I think people believe life is somehow easier if you are well-known, but I think successful people are all very good at managing their time. They manage their 24 hours differently than the majority of folks. To take all the steps and micro-steps necessary to reach your goals is to live with intention. People seek an easy road, but there is no easy road. Everything gained must be earned, paid for with decisive action and thousands of hours.
I must provide more value to people in order to earn more, so I may have the time and resources to accomplish my list of goals. I must teach others what I have learned, so I may provide more value, and therefore, be more valuable to others. Without this step, the other steps cannot be completed. I guess that’s it – there is no secret. You simply have to work harder than everyone else, and then put yourself in the position to have those opportunities in front of you.
I wish I would have been ready for this phase my life a long time ago, but you cannot change the past. You can only change today; that is all you have. Make use of it.