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Hard Questions

I’ve spoken with quite a few people recently that I would consider “stuck in a rut”.  They’re students overwhelmed by their options, or unemployed, trying to change their career path, or just broaden their options and make more money.

Most of these people come at me with long, rambling, bad questions.

Stuff like:

“What language would you recommend a person with an audio background learn if they’ve done a little bit of coding, but realize they probably need to get more in-depth if they want to further their career because they need to broaden their skills set?”

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this is a great question – right?  It’s essentially “can you give me a starting point to better myself?”

But 99% of the time, that’s not actually what’s being asked.

Usually the person asking this question feels stuck and wants a quick fix to their problems.  Problems which usually include getting more money and/or finding a job (or better job).  The thought process is if one learns a new skill quickly, they can put it on their resume and beat out competitors by looking better to a hiring manager.

The problem is, that never actually works.  To compound this, the skill is usually not something this person is actually dying to learn.  If they were really interested in it – they would just jump at learning something new and fascinating.  They wouldn’t be asking me what is most potent in the marketplace.

Most people I’ve had this conversation with – and if you find yourself in this spot, follow along – need to answer 3 questions.

1) What, specifically, do you want to do?
2) Realistically, will that pay you?
3) What steps do you need to take to succeed?

There are 3 failure scenarios here after you come up with the answer to the first question.

  1. You answered “no” to the 2nd question
  2. You should’ve answered “no” to the 2nd question, but you’re lying to yourself
  3. Success is somehow out of your control. For example – you want to be an internationally lauded indie guitarist composer – which requires musical trends that you don’t control to ride in your favor.

These questions, and being honest with them, are brutally difficult. When I say “what, specifically, do you want to do?” I mean that to be a question you answer very specifically. The more specific that you are, the easier to becomes to figure out if it’s something you can make money doing and what steps you need to take to get there.

The part that makes these tasks difficult isn’t the tasks themselves – but you.

There’s almost nothing that you cannot achieve through working hard, smart, and being willing to fail. But you’ll sabotage yourself when you’re tired or overwhelmed by trying to find an easier path.  Just like when you ask for the “best path” to expand yourself.  There isn’t one – become a master at something a company is willing to pay for that you also enjoy.

For explorers, there is no easy path. If you’re cutting new ground, the cutting takes hard work. Even if it’s road that others have tread before you, at some point you still need to make your own way.

So quit beating around the bush. Answer the hard questions for yourself – not anyone else – and get to work. There is no guarantee of success, but I can promise you that you’ll find more doors opening than if you sat and did nothing.

Copyright 2016-2017, Adam T. Croft, all rights reserved.