11 ways to “pick yourself”

April 30 2013

Seth Godin encourages us to stop waiting for that call, the publisher, that big chance, the label. We’re at a place in history where opportunities to put ourselves into the game abound. We simply must choose to play.

But let’s get real. It isn’t always easy to find a straight line from Point A to Point B. The journey is often a winding one, filled with ups and downs, frustration and enthusiasm, celebrations of triumph and moments of despair. We see the Amanda Palmers and the Jerry Weintraubs and place them in a category separate from ourselves. They have more talent. I couldn’t do what she did. I have a family to support. He has all the right connections. She had nothing to lose. We come up with excuses upon excuses, ultimately scaring ourselves away from plausible outcomes. It’s easier to toe the mark, be complacent, play it safe.

For those wanting to “pick yourself,” it can be challenging to know where to begin. Leaping from a set job description with specific duties to a blank slate in which you create your own career path seems daunting to even the most entrepreneurial among us. (Hint: running your own show rarely happens over night.)

You may be clocking hours at a 9am-5pm and fantasizing of a life in which your product/service/offering/business/time/art/talent is all your own. Give your dreams a chance. Here are 11 simple ideas to help you move in the direction of picking yourself.

  1. Write. Set aside time to ask questions, dream, think big. Put your phone on silent and set an alarm twenty minutes out.
  2. Find a mentor. Schedule a fifteen minute phone call with someone you admire. Ask about their daily schedule, where they find inspiration, what keeps them motivated. Thank them for their time.
  3. Walk. I call them Creative Walks. Go outside for forty minutes. Do not bring your phone, but do bring paper and a pen. Let your mind wander. The best ideas rarely happen when you’re sitting at a desk.
  4. Become an impresario. Organize an after-work meetup or a social gathering. Invite speakers who can add value to your project and excite your team. Orchestrate a potluck and recruit guests to moderate discussion.
  5. Contribute. Challenge yourself to speak up in your next meeting. Pose a provocative question or make an unnoticed observation. Actively participate.
  6. Be an intrapreneur. Look for a project within your company. Has no one addressed company culture? Is there an unmet need? An open opportunity?
  7. Pitch yourself. That thing you’ve always wanted to start/produce/make? Sell yourself on it.
  8. Lunch and learn. Have lunch with a colleague you don’t know very well. Seek to understand their work and job functions. Find out which projects excite them.
  9. Surprise someone. A colleague, a partner, a parent. Call them out of the blue for no particular reason, leave a card for them to discover, gift them with something thoughtful. Add unexpected meaning to their day.
  10. Book a vacation. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Go away for the weekend. Plan a day trip. Take a tent to the mountains. Break from your day-to-day and surround yourself with something different.
  11. Write a letter to your hero. Compose a letter to your role model, the person whose life you most admire. You don’t have to send it; use it as an exercise to more clearly define your wants and desires. Or send it and see what happens.

Don’t wait. Pick yourself. Today.