One of my favorite shows, and not just because of the pretty clothes, is the AMC show Mad Men. Okay, the pretty clothes have a lot to do with it.
But as much as I love Betty Draper’s Grace Kelly look, they’re part of what stifles her and holds her back from being a fully realized adult human being. Those big gorgeous skirts weigh her down (notice how she starts wearing pants to ride horses as she deciding she has had enough of Don’s shit?) She is primarily defined by how others see her and what she possesses (ironically, she’s the consumer men like her husband have created through media and advertising). And she’s miserable because her sense of self is always dependent on this shifting standard — does someone else have more than she does? And do other people think of her as the prettiest wife and mother in all the land?
One of my favorite characters was Bobbie Barrett. She had a few issues that complicated her likability, but what human doesn’t? Her frankness and self-awareness are awesome. And her clothes rocked. 😉
Bobbie has a line in one episode that really reached out and grabbed me. She tells Peggy Olsen, who is at a career crossroads while waiting for Don Draper’s approval to validate her, “This is America. Pick a job and then become the person that does it.”
This is sometimes referred to as “reverse engineering” your goals. Pick your goal. Let’s say it’s to go on a trip to Egypt. What are you going to need to get there? Plane tickets, visas, passports, hotel, proper clothes (naturally), tourbooks, maybe special inoculations, money and time off from work.
Okay, so those are the steps you need to get to Egypt. Make a list, prioritize the things that are going to take the longest (probably visas and savings) or the things that are the most important (if you can’t get the time off from work, no point in booking your plane and hotel). Before you know it, you’re there.
Dream jobs are like that. The American Dream has somehow morphed into the American “sit on your ass in a cube until someone promotes you to your dream job as a C-level executive.” It doesn’t really work that way. Sitting on your ass in a cube is, more than likely, going to just get you more jobs where you sit on your ass in a cube.
Now, if you enjoy ass-sitting cube dwelling, great. Stop reading and go back to hiding Words with Friends from your boss.
But I think most of us don’t want that. Most of us want something more. And the only way to get to where you want to be is to start acting like you’ve already arrived there and doing the things you would do there.
For example, at some point last year, I decided I was going to grow my Beachbody business into a real team. I wanted coaches on my team that would be part of my family and that could share the work of ending the trend of obesity. Plus, I’m a social person and it’s AWESOME to work from home in my pjs (which I’m still in as I blog this, btw), but it gets lonesome too. So I wanted colleagues. But I still wanted to be the boss of me. 😉
So I named my team. Team Triumph. I had like 3 coaches on my team at the time. But damnit, we had a NAME. Because someday, when we were a big team, we’d need a name. So I came up with one sooner rather than later. We have a logo too. Wanna see it?
So you’re thinking, wait, so you achieved your dreams by coming up with a team name and a logo? Bull shit.
You’re right. I also picked out my dress. 😉 Part of acting the part is thinking “What does my future successful self do? Say? Wear? Read?” I like to skip to the wearing part. I wanted to wear a sparkley diamond dress when we head to Las Vegas Summit this year and be a sparkley diamond coach when I wear it. So I picked out the dress I would be wearing as a 2 star diamond coach. I’m at one star now. I’ll be 2 star by June, believe that. 😉
This dress hangs in my closet as a reminder of the behaviors I need to exhibit each day to get myself to where I want to be. I read the books that a successful person should read… I (mostly) eat the foods that a successful fitness person should eat. It changes how I talk and how I think, which changes how I ACT.
Does that make sense? So it’s really not the fact of coming up with the pretty dress and team name that magically gets the job, it’s changing the thinking, which changes the behavior which changes the results.
For some reason, we’ve been taught that you grow stronger by working at your current level and then just doing a bit more when you feel like it. Trust me, people do not train to climb Mount Everest by walking on a treadmill and increasing the elevation of the machine a little each week. They go out and they climb HARD mountains. They climb one mountain that’s too hard for them until it gets easy. Then they climb another mountain that’s too hard for them until THAT’S easy.
That’s how we grow. By constantly pushing ourselves beyond what we’re currently capable of. By already thinking and behaving like we ARE capable of it. Do we fall on our face? Sure. But sometimes we surprise ourselves with how far we get before we fall.
Pushups are a great example. Often, people will just do push ups on their knees for years and cant’ figure out why they can’t do them on their toes. Um, because you don’t do them on your toes? You start by doing 12 pushups on your knees, then you do 2 on your toes, 10 on your knees. Then you do 3 on your toes and 10 on your knees. And so on. No magic spell is going to take control of your body while you’re doing push ups on your knees and crank you into the full-on push-up position while you execute graceful, effortless pushups.
Oh if only it worked that way.
There are so many books about success and achievement that make the same point: You have to think and behave like the person you want to be. If you want to be your own boss, you have to start thinking like an entrepreneur. That means working when others are sleeping. That means less tv time. That means less WASTED time. There is plenty of time in the day, we just typically waste it on Facebook or on the phone or in thousands of other time-suckers that don’t contribute anything positive to our future.
What I also loved about Bobbie Barrett’s quote is it began with the statement “This is America.” It used to be that people truly believed that in America you could become whatever you wanted. We put a fucking man on the moon, okay? At some point, defeatist thinking crept in. And somehow, this spirit left the country. The sense that we can master our own destiny is replaced by negative thinking and self-doubt. When did that happen?
While we’re taking life lessons from Hollywood, remember the film The Departed? Frank Costello repeats throughout the movie, “No one gives it to you, you have to take it.”
I love that. If you’re not living the life you want, if you’re unhappy with where you’re at, this is America. You’re not bound by your gender or your class or your race. You have opportunities out the ass. You may think you don’t, you may think you’re oppressed, but if it’s so shitty here, why do we have people from India, China, the Middle East BEGGING to come here? Because they know what oppression looks like. They know what being untouchable is. They know what being a woman means for your career, education and legal rights. If you want a better life, no one gives it to you, you have to take it.
Start today. What does your ideal life look like? What do you do? Where do you go? What does your family look like? Pick the job you want, then be the one who does it.