A couple of years ago I fulfilled a lifelong dream and became a private investigator. With almost no experience I entered one of the most difficult professions to get into. In doing so I learnt a few things about doing something huge. Something that you’ve always wanted to do, something that may seem impossible, fulfilling one of your dreams.
Three things you need to keep in mind:
- Things don’t have to be perfect for you to make a start.
- You’ll almost never be the best straight away, or land your dream position immediately.
- It doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think.
What does this mean?
1. Things don’t have to be perfect for you to make a start.
Things will rarely ever be perfect. For a huge decision we often wait until what we perceive to be the perfect time to start. Most of the time, that moment never comes. If it does, nine times out of ten, what we thought was perfect is almost irrelevant.
You don’t know anything until you’re actually in the game doing it. I had plenty of preconceptions about being a private investigator. I did as much research as possible, I read a ton of books, I spoke to people. But until I started working, it was all theory. I had no idea what part of the job I’d actually enjoy or not enjoy. I didn’t know what field I wanted to focus on.
Perfection is just an excuse to not do it. Better to begin and then work towards perfection. Almost nothing starts out perfect.
2. You’ll almost never be the best straight away, or land your dream position immediately.
When we think about our dreams or goals, we most often have the end result in mind. For example, I could imagine being in charge of this amazing PI firm, with a handful of crack investigators. I’d be the go-to person for high-powered people with business or personal issues that needed to be handled discreetly.
That’s a great goal, if that’s what I really wanted to do. But if I wanted to have that right away I’d be sorely disappointed and probably give up in the frustration of waiting. That takes work, experience and patience.
You have to think about the steps to get there. If you just think about the dream itself it’ll be this huge mammoth that you don’t even know how to begin to tackle.
It’s much easier to just start and then make incremental improvements towards being awesome at something. It’s much more difficult to try to be awesome first, before you start.
3. Things don’t have to be as difficult as you think.
Here are two questions I could have asked myself when becoming a PI:
a. I want to be a great PI. How can I get a job at a leading investigative firm?
b. I want to be a great PI. What’s the easiest way to be a PI right away and then slowly improve?
Which one do you think is the easier to tackle?
If we set the stakes low, any goal is much easier to attain. If I had gone in straight away to a leading investigative firm to try and get a job, with no experience, no training, I probably wouldn’t get past reception. And the rejection may have killed my dream for good.
On the flip side, what if I took the simplest steps first, built some momentum and then used that as a platform to getting a job at a leading firm?
For me this meant getting my licence first, getting some of my own simple jobs, and then approaching some firms. Instead of going in cold I went in with a licence, some work history, and most of all, a can-do attitude and demonstrated initiative.
I picked the easiest steps first, ones that I could do without laying everything on the line or in the hands of someone else.
Instead of letting your goal get bigger and bigger (and more scary), make it smaller. What are the simplest steps towards it that you can take now? How can you set the steps up in such away that achieving them is almost inevitable? How can you make the stakes so low that any rejection or difficulty is not a big deal at all?
What does this all mean for you and me?
With any dream or goal…
Start now. Get into it. Begin straight away. Take small, incremental and easy steps. Don’t let any one big thing put you off. You’ll figure it out as you go along, as long as you have the patience, courage and commitment to do it.