It’s easy to assume that people out there have a plan. When you start out in the industry and see people whose work you admire or ideas you respect, it’s easy to wonder how they got there. The more people’s stories I hear, the more I realise how few people have a plan. If they once had one, they’ve tended to end up somewhere very different. Take comfort in this! In looking at my own ‘heroes’, I’d feel like everyone else must have things figured out and know where they were going.
For me, I wanted to be in a band, a record producer, a film director or screenplay writer. None of these seemed to have a natural career path you can sign up to. You also need to dig in, make it work for you in any way you can and have the passion to explore it. I had a failed attempt at university, being on an ill-suited course, and so ended up working in my Dad’s warehouse. It seemed to me, I’d hit a brick wall very early on. I was clueless. It didn’t seem like I could be any one of those things and certainly the aborted university experience knocked my confidence. A lack of confidence can be a powerful element in smothering whatever passion you have.
I’d dabbled in making websites for my band and a few friends but used time in the warehouse office out of hours to learn how to do it better. Eventually I started making sites for the businesses’ customers and a new career option kind of revealed itself. Maybe I could do this ‘world wide web’ thing?
At that time there weren’t blogs or social media and I had no idea how to get into the industry. I had an idea of something I really wanted to create that I couldn’t describe – a huge sprawling concept. I kept learning more about design and programming to find out how to express what this thing was. I suppose I hoped whatever it was, it could be very cool and in some way perceived it as redeeming myself for poor grades and a previous lack of focus. It became what they call in the film business, a ‘MacGuffin’. By going on a quest for this ideal, I ended up finding another path. Clearly no plan here!
I didn’t know if I’d be good enough to make this a full time job. I saw sites that blew me away and had no idea how they were done. In the background, I was still trying to find a way to express my idea…this concept that I struggled to communicate. Then I realised in going after this goal I’d equipped myself with some skills that might give me some sense of direction.
I think I realised after a while that what I saw in other people who I thought had a plan was passion. Perhaps the passion I didn’t know how to direct earlier on. I don’t believe we need plans, we need something that drives us, something that gives us that feeling in our gut that we maybe can’t explain.
What drives you? Being really honest with yourself about what that is for you has to be way better than a plan.