What does it take to get what you want out of life? Is it good looks? Talent? Charm? Start-up capital? Luck?
In my case, I had two gifts that were potentially worth something: a good eye and a knack for writing. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to figure out how to capitalize on them. I graduated with an Economics degree but didn’t know what to do with it. Fortunately, I got involved in an education business that gave me some valuable business insights and experience. It also during this phase of my existence that I discovered one of my biggest passions: interior design.
Figure out what you want to do with your life
I took design classes at night so it wouldn’t interfere with the business I was running during the day. What started out as a creative exploration turned into a serious pursuit as I eventually realized that I wanted to do interior design full time. I also decided to move to a bigger city once I finished my studies. People thought I was crazy to turn my back on a profitable business. I find, though, that once you realize what you really want to do with the rest of your life, walking away from a job or business isn’t that hard. Besides, I had already set up the business so that it could be run by somebody else, just in case.
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Take the first step of that 10,000 mile journey
This was one of the scariest moments in my life. Not only had I decided to start my new career thousands of miles from home, I was moving to a new city just before Winter. In addition to never having experienced sub-zero temperatures, I needed to master a new language and learn to live independently. Looking back at this part of my history, I realized that my life would have been totally different had I not decided to take that huge risk. If you find yourself at this same point in your life you can make one of two choices: (1) bet on your dreams (2) play it safe. I decided on the first option despite the massive risk of failure. I just didn’t want to have regrets later on and wonder about what might have been.
Find people to help you
I decided to try my luck in Europe after talking to an Italian magazine editor who encouraged me to leave Manila – where I was born and educated – and get work experience abroad. She gave me a list of the top interior designers in Milan where she worked and let me use her as a reference. As I contacted several potential employers, my network of supporters grew. People offered me a place to stay or referred various part-time job opportunities to help fund my existence. I discovered that it was a lot easier to find supporters once I shared my dreams with everyone. Several people admired my guts. Most of them were doing what they were doing out of necessity, not out of choice. This made me feel even more blessed to be able to pursue my dreams.
Never quit until you reach your goals
At first, people were worried about me. After all, life in a foreign city is tough and I had come from a cocooned existence. However, when they saw how determined I was, they all stopped doubting me and started becoming believers. It didn’t take me long to convince more than one employer that it was worth it to take a risk on me. Despite moments of massive self-doubt and fighting off negative thoughts like “what the hell was I thinking leaving my business, friends and family to start a new career in a strange city” swimming in my head, I got a job less than two weeks after I had arrived in Milan.
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These early experiences – in addition to eventually running my own successful design business – enabled me to transition to the next phase of my career, which was becoming an author and speaker. From helping people optimize their personal spaces, I now help them optimize their thinking so they can achieve their personal and career goals.
It’s been an amazing journey, so far and I still have to pinch myself sometimes to see if it’s all real. It’s never been an easy road, though. As many people who’ve gone all the way to the top will attest, it takes years and painstaking effort to become an overnight success.