The one thing you always want to have, in your life, is options. Options provide freedom in those times when you feel completely stifled, stuck, and stressed. When you have options you have choices, and choices are that light at the end of every tunnel. Options are why you continually educate yourself, why you gain knowledge and gather information, and why you attend conferences, read ferociously, and shake hands and network. The goal is to have options because options are ultimately freedom! A person without any options is similar to an animal who is bound and caged
Regardless of your age, or circumstances, you need options! If you don't take anything else from the information I'm sharing with you, please remember this: YOU HAVE THE ABSOLUTE POWER TO CREATE YOUR OWN OPTIONS! This means that you ultimately have the power to dictate and control your own level of freedom! I want you to be empowered here, and the best way to be empowered is to take ownership of your own destiny. Create your options and be the author of your own freedom!!
Here are 10 ideas to consider to help you increase your options:
1. Start a business on the side - This is the best way to broaden your options and start something big that has a chance to grow. Entrepreneurship is within your grasp. If you want to leave your job someday, create jobs for others. Research, get a good team, and start on it. You don't have to start with a monumental 25 page business plan, or a business loan. Take an idea, develop a plan of action, and get on it.
2. Save your money and invest - Stop focusing on what you make and focus primarily on what you save/keep. Invest your money and time into growing your net worth. If you have enough money, you open the door to a plethora of options for yourself. Financial freedom isn't a myth. It can be your reality if you set goals, develop a plan, manage your money well, and START. The sooner the better.
3. Live well below your means - Spend less, develop frugal taste, and cut your expenses. Cutting your expenses and downsizing your lifestyle, gives your options. I'm not suggesting you live like a pauper, but I am suggesting that you slow it down. You don't have to eat out everyday, go to every concert, shop constantly, or spend every summer on the 2 week vacation. Consider paring down your lifestyle and saving massive amounts of money to retire early. It's possible.
4. Take your hobby to a another level - monetize whatever it is that you love to do, and have fun the whole time. Turn a hobby into a money making bonanza. Sell your paintings, knit fancy socks, play in a band, teach golf lessons, sell sponges on amazon, bake banana bread, etc. Whatever you enjoy, explore ways to make money doing it. If you want to create options for yourself, why not enjoy it in the process?
5. Be an expert in a field - There is nothing more sought after then a seasoned "subject matter expert". Teach what you know to somebody else, be the go to person, and be fanatical about being the absolute best at what you do. Don't be stingy with your knowledge. When you're valuable in any job, business, or industry, then you always have options.
6. Seek and find problems and solve them - Every job, every industry, every organization, and every individual, has problems. Find problems, and create and develop solutions. Make it a habit and journal your ideas every day, and purposely become known as a problem solver.
7. Network - Talk to someone you don't normally talk to. Attend events you wouldn't normally attend. Take 3 people to lunch that you don't know much about, every month. That is less than 1 person a week, and in one year you will have taken 35 to 40 people to lunch and increased your connections by the hundreds. Maximize your connections on social media websites like LinkedIn and develop those relationships with timely topics to post about and interaction with your connections.
8. Take risks - Don't play everything safe. Give a speech, try something new and push yourself to take a risk that's calculated, but pushes you and your learning and experiences to a new level. Not only "think" outside the box, but "act" outside the box. Do something beyond your comfort zone. It's a cliche but it's true, you will not grow as a person until you do something that you've never done.
9. Get educated - Not just a traditional school. Take a class in something you consider a passion, get a trade, or attend a specific online class that teaches you to code, to develop websites, to build something, or to develop something. Embrace every opportunity to learn and develop yourself. Make it a purpose to spend focused time and energy on personal development. You first. Listen to smart people, smart speeches, smart presentations, and other people that stimulate your mind. Turn off the music and listen to ideas, or set a goal to read at least one non-fiction book a month!
10. Do everything on this list - Or at least do multiple things on this list. The more things you do, the more options you will ultimately create for yourself. Cultivating just one of these ideas on the list, and focusing on it, will propel you beyond where you are today.
The key here is START!
Taking control of your professional life, both on and off the job, and giving yourself the gift of options, will reduce your stress level, allow you the choice to say what you want to say, and the freedom to do things you want to do. It will give you a sense of control over your career, and life, that many people wish they had. When you have more choices, you have more confidence, and when you have more confidence, you are able to engage with people on a more authentic level as you increase your options.