It’s no surprise to some that people who dislike their boring-but-safe, 9-to-5 jobs tend to be unsatisfied and unsuccessful in their careers.
That’s because the first ingredient to success is to do what you’re passionate about, says serial entrepreneur Parviz Firouzgar, author of “20/20 Hindsight”.
“We all need money to get by, but if you ever have the opportunity to take a chance and do what you actually love, take it,” says Firouzgar, who left a middling corporate job in his early 20s and eventually earned a fortune a few times over.
“When I started out, if you had told me that in a few years I’d be an expert in sweepstakes promotions, I would have laughed – but it happened. I went on to learn to grade and price diamonds of any size and quality, became a radio talk show host, invented a new way of supporting needy children around the world and I now own a gold mine. Those are just some of the adventures I’ve had.”
If you don’t like what you do, you will tend to have an aversion to doing what it takes to be very successful, he says. Without passion, it’s almost impossible to distinguish yourself.
“If you keep your boring and safe job, you can keep your boring and safe income, but I don’t know how happy you could be,” he says. “Years ago, I would have told you I was crazy for thinking that I’d have such an adventurous career. The point is that nothing is out of our reach, for me or for you.”
Through trial and error and after decades of experience, Firouzgar has uncovered reliable tips for achieving your dream job.
• A mentor can help you with 20/20 foresight. Imagine having the ability to skip ahead to possessing that unique set of skills that comes with already having earned your first fortune.
“Had I known what it would take to earn my first million before I’d earned that knowledge, it would have come much quicker and easier, and that’s why I wrote my book,” says Firouzgar.
In the same spirit, he recommends developing a relationship with a mentor, who can also help you fast-track success. You’ll want to choose someone who is already successful so that the advice isn’t some form of wishful thinking. You don’t learn how to get rich from someone with low income. Ideally, you’ll find someone who has experienced hardship in life, and at least one major business failing.
• Failure is life’s greatest teacher. One of the biggest reasons why personal experience is so valuable – and why an ideal mentor has experienced some measure of failure – is because that’s where the most valuable lessons usually lie. Our first success is often fleeting and, meanwhile, one’s ego tends to get out of control. Then it all comes crashing down as flawed character traits surface and sabotage what took so much hard work to build. It’s our failures that positively mold the most important features of our character – including humility and gratitude. It’s when we experience and overcome failure that success becomes a sustainable possibility.
• The quality of your business plan largely determines your start-up phase.Getting excited over an idea is the fun part, but actually working through how an idea may fare is where the work begins. While investors seek confidence first and foremost in people – their passion, determination and past successes – a business plan is vital for raising capital. If multiple investors turn down your project, it may mean that the plan didn’t demonstrate how and when the investment would generate an acceptable return.
More importantly, it’s a sign your idea hasn’t quite matured in the sometimes hard light of business. Remember, creating a business plan entails creating something where, previously, there was nothing more than an idea. So, if you truly believe in your idea, do it justice by putting in the appropriate time, thought and energy.
• To-do lists provide the practical application of achieving goals. Among the abundant academic and self-help literature intended to help aspirational people achieve goals, there is one proven and reliable tool that sets the gold standard like nothing else: a to-do list. To-do lists act as cheat sheets for keeping your busy mind focused on what needs to be addressed at any given time. Entrepreneurs need to multitask to an extent. A list will keep you straight, and since you’ll be adding to the list regularly, make sure to cross out tasks that have been accomplished.
“An added tip for a to-do list: do first what you like doing least,” Firouzgar says. “Even very disciplined people push off what they dislike. But if you get in the habit of accomplishing unattractive duties in the morning, the rest of your day can be that much more pleasant.”