…And it’s been three years in the making. Well, 2 years and 364 days to be exact, but who’s counting?
Everyone always talks about walking off stage with diploma in hand, but I think the beginning is much more exciting. Single file into the aisle and up the steps, wait for your name to be called, approach the podium (don’t trip!), remember to accept with your left and shake with the right, and is now the right time to switch your tassel? The follow-up was easy, almost disappointingly so.
Feet firmly on the ground and back on the cold white plastic chair, I remember thinking to myself, “Now what?” 10 semesters (yeah, I got a little distracted freshman year) and $42,000 in student debt later, I felt fooled. After 21 years of being told where to go and what to do, the next steps were mine, and let me tell you, they haven’t gone according to plan.
I never wanted to be Gordon Gekko. I didn’t want “Dr.” at the beginning of my name or “Esq.” at the end. Nope, I was fine being Sean Parker. I was too cool to be Mark Zuckerberg, but I knew a good idea when I saw one, so my plan was to find the next Facebook and retire by 26. My whole thing was working smarter, not harder. I mean, Tim Ferris’s The 4-Hour Workweek was a national bestseller.
And how hard could it have been? My plan was to get in on the ground floor, secure some equity, and wait. In the meantime, I spent more money than I earned (YOLO!) and made sure my Facebook and Instagram photos screamed, “I’ve arrived!” I really thought I had, plus my parents were still paying my cell phone bill. I was keeping calm and winning.
Well, I’ve been on my Charlie Sheen kick for 2 years and 364 days and I think time’s up. I asked a few buddies if I could crash on their futon, but four guys in a converted two-bedroom is not my idea of grown-man status. You know what is? Moving back in with your parents! When I went to tell moms and pops that idea, they thought I should “give it a little more time.” Like 20 or 30 years more. And I said “No no no!” Like Amy Winehouse, I was stuck.
Not only was I stuck, I was entitled.
I'm guessing that 90% of you reading this will say, “But Peggs, you’re not entitled, you just want what you want. Oh, and how cliché to describe yourself—and, by way of implied association, us—as entitled!” To that I say, “Look around you!”
I am entitled. You are too. Have you ever wanted something that you couldn’t have? It sucks, and we happen to want it all.
My $5 lattes, aggressive brunches, 15-minute bathroom breaks, mini college reunions, Brooklyn half-marathons, bike rides over the Golden Gate Bridge, weekend trips home, unexpected 10% off, and cheat meals fried and dipped in chocolate are not enough. Coachella (first weekend, of course), 2 for 1 happy hours, unlimited sick days, finding $20 in my pants pocket and deciding to sleep in an extra hour because it’s Friday are not enough—and never will be.
My problem, and maybe yours too, is that I stepped off the stage and into the crowd. Despite knowing that the cap didn’t fit, I did what was expected anyway. I never wanted to be in finance, and after Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers collapsed, it was easier than ever to leave my first job. I ran west, and thanks to Aaron Sorkin and The Social Network (great movie, btw), Silicon Valley is sexy, so once again I feel obliged to stay.
Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes, plenty of people would give up their smart phone to work at my super top-secret tech company that shall remain nameless. But it’s not for me, and I guess that’s the point. Why do we follow the playbook of others?
What I want is to break the rules, and that begins on Friday. Am I nervous? HELL YEAH. Will it be easy? Nothing in life that’s worth it ever is. Am I doubting my resolve? Yes, and this letter to you is my accountability.
There’s nothing rational or logical here, and I definitely didn’t find this advice in any book. I’m walking away and inviting you to come with me.
In the last 2 years and 364 days I realized that the common factor is me, so I’m making moves. To where is the million dollar question, and I promise you it’s not what you think.
Thoughts are things, and what I know for your sure is that change is a mentality. I’m moving away from intimidation, expectation and indecision. I’m calling out regret and putting doubt on blast. Fear was a factor of the past and in it’s place lies a chance.
I’m giving notice to the possible.
On Friday, I’ll do everything I’m supposed to do: define my dreams, pick apart my passion, generate some goals, meet my mentors, hobnob and network. And then I’ll do everything else.
Life is directional and for the first time I’m in the drivers seat. I may get stuck, veer off course or take the wrong turn but success comes from driving by the fork in the road and keeping straight (thanks HOV).
Where are you headed? Leave me a comment and let me know!
(Ed note: Michael is not really giving notice tomorrow. That part was metaphorical—the rest is real. And he says he really will be giving notice soon.)
—Michael Peggs likes to think of himself as a Chief Branding Officer (CBO), daring young professionals to define their personal brands and go after their dreams. You can reach him by visiting Michaelpeggs.com.
[Image: Flickr user Faungg]