July 10, 2017 stefivos

Stop following your dreams and start setting goals

Solicited by AthensLive

Following a facebook post I wrote the other day, Tassos (co-founder of AthensLive) asked me to write an “inspirational” article and this is what I’m trying to do now. My biggest concern was that I may have nothing new to say or that some people may wonder who the fuck am I to give advice to the younger generation. Well, fuck them. Even if there is a kid out there who can see some hope after this piece, I’ll be happy.

So, I’m no different to the other thousands of Greek people who left their home country in the recent years. We were unemployed and we made the obvious choice, to get a job, anywhere we could. There was and there is no heroism in this. It was our choice, so complaining about it is just moronic. Whoever doesn’t enjoy the expat life should return to their home country. Otherwise, they should shut up and move on with their life.

I’m saying this because I used to be one of those who complain. My reason was that, as a Jack of all trades and master of none, I couldn’t get a well-paid job that I would enjoy. Well, I couldn’t even get a well-paid job that I wouldn’t enjoy. I was somewhat surprised by that. I don’t know whether it has anything to do with my Greek upbringing or me being a millennial, but I always thought that since I have a master’s degree, I should have a decent job. I had earned that privilege, right? Well, no. No one owes us anything. NO ONE OWES US ANYTHING. I learned this the hard way, by struggling to afford an enjoyable life in London on an NHS salary.

My biggest problem was that I had changed careers a few times. No one was ready to trust a 32-year-old guy who didn’t seem to know what he was doing, although I was very good at whatever I had chosen to do; and I’m not saying this in an arrogant way. When you don’t have a safety net, and you want food on the table and a roof above your head, you realise that you have to work hard. You have no other choice, so this is all I did.

Over the period of three years, I had sent over 200 job applications, I had attended 15-20 interviews, but I kept failing. The more I failed, the more depressed I became. All my friends were progressing with their careers and I was stuck. Well, maybe the UK is not for me, I thought after the Brexit vote. I started applying abroad, ready to relocate once more away from home, my second home now.

After a few months, I got a new job with Amazon. They were the only people who could appreciate my inquisitive nature. After all, Learn and Be Curious is one of Amazon’s leadership principles.

I had to leave London and although I thought I was ready, I wasn’t. I had to leave behind something very, very precious. That decision changed me. I wasn’t 26 years old anymore. Such decisions were and still are much more painful. But I felt I had to do it. So I did it.

In less than four months in Amazon, I have grown more than I had grown in the last 6 years. I love my job, I love that I learn something new everyday, I love that people treat me as a highly competent professional, even when I am skeptical about my own abilities. I love that I’m busy all the time because, when I’m not, I can’t but miss what I had to give up. 

Another leadership principle in Amazon is Bias for Action. If you want to do something and you’re hesitating, do it anyway. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Even if you fail, you can try again, in a different way. Without knowing, I abode by these principles all my life. I wanted to change my career path, I did it anyway. This is what I wanted, how could I not do it? Did I ever stop to consider whether I was taking the right decision? No. You can never know what the best decision is. Never. You follow a path and you go wherever it takes you. And then you either stay on it or follow a new one.

The decision I took at eighteen to study Psychology had a great impact on my life. Until a year ago, I thought it had defined me, as if it was a curse I couldn’t get rid of. In hindsight now, I know that it did not define me, but it did help me get where I am now. I could be in a totally different place, but I’m here, many random decision later, one of them being to study Psychology. It’s as simple as that. Or as complicated.

I am no believer in positivity crap like “follow your dreams”, “you can succeed in whatever you want” etc. Hell, no. Are you kidding me? Have your never seen talent shows? Wanting something doesn’t mean you are entitled to it. Neither that you can succeed in it. What you can do though is to work hard and be patient. You can be nice to people. You can stop complaining about things you can’t change. And you can remember that no one owes you anything. You want something? Fight for it, but be ready to live without it, even when you think you deserve it. Life is not fair. But you can be.

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stefivos Nothing to declare.