We have all heard a fair share of stories about turning points. That one all-defining moment that turns someone’s life around. The street singer, who gets her big break, when suddenly a producer of a major record label passes by her and signs her on the spot. The entrepreneur, whose business skyrockets into success after landing that one great business opportunity. Or the guy, who suddenly realizes that his true passion is landscape photography after he, by mere co-incidence, picks up an old Olympus camera and starts shooting.
But here’s the thing about turning point tales: they are tales. They exist mostly for PR purposes and what makes them so incredible is not that they seem unlikely—it is the fact that they are unlikely.
In reality, there are very few of us, if any, who experience that one pivotal moment that entirely changes our lives. An opportunity or an epiphany doesn’t just come out of nothing as we go on with our everyday lives. Instead, it is a culmination of small incremental steps that all play a vital role in us reaching our goal or finding our purpose. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are ways to inch a little closer to your place in life and create your own turning points.
First, understand that patience is key. Sure, it would be great to have it all figured out here and now—maybe even make it in time for the Forbes 30 under 30 List. However at the age of 40, a lot of people, who are considered successful today, were not only far from their tipping point—they weren’t even close to having found their path in life. Vera Wang, Robin Chase and Betty White are just some out of many, who didn’t launch their career until they were somewhere in their 40s and 50s.
Persistence is the lovechild of patience and proactivity. Successful people got to where they are today through hard work and determination. If you already know where you want to be, great! Keep working towards your goal and if needed: evaluate and re-iterate from time to time. Persistence is equally important, if you still haven’t found your calling. While staying stuck in your old ways may be both convenient and comfortable, it won’t help you grow or find your passion. And as we’ve already pointed out, your passion is not going to come and find you. So, keep expanding your horizon, never stop learning and stay curious.
Read! Whether it’s for the sake of expanding your horizon or getting inspiration, reading will help you stay focused and get ideas. Fiction, non-fiction, news or even magazines—anything goes! We recommend reading biographies of people, you admire. Reading about their struggles serves as a much needed reminder that their success it the hard-earned fruits of years, even decades, of labor and sacrifice. Not into biographies, yet you don’t know what to read? Ask your friends! Still struggling to find inspiration? Spend a day at your favorite bookstore and browse for ideas. Can’t afford to splurge on books? Get a one-month Kindle Unlimited free trial and explore millions of free eBooks. Or better yet, go old school and visit the local library for inspiration. Can’t find the time to read? Listen to podcasts while you are on the go. They are a great source of inspiration and insights.
Get out of your social comfort zone. We tend to surround ourselves with likeminded people; it serves as a great social affirmation and gives us a sense of belonging. Meanwhile, the problem with solely surrounding ourselves with our peers is that it gives us tunnel vision. Moreover, we lose out on a lot of opportunities to have our ideologies challenged and expand our horizon. Attend a networking event, where you know the attendees are going to be vastly different from you. Engage and ask questions. You’ll be surprised with how much you’ll learn in just one evening.
Dream big, but think small. As noted earlier, turning points are the culminations of small, incremental steps that are all interconnected in one way or another. Try to identify and understand these steps in isolation as well as their interconnectedness. Think about your path to success or finding your passion in terms of “if this, then that” statements and slowly work your way through these steps—you’ll be surprised with how much more manageable it becomes all of a sudden.
While there is no set recipe for success, there is a certain framework within which the odds of success can be optimized. One thing is for certain: you bear the sole responsibility for making your dreams a reality. Realizing this is both liberating and intimidating. Now, it is up to you to determine whether you are up for the challenge.
Go get em'!