Should You Gain Work Experience First or Do Your Own Thing?

by Dan Johnston

Should You Gain Work Experience First or Do Your Own Thing?

“Fear loves to mess with us and to come in and discolour things.”

Do You Need More Experience To Start Your Career?

If you’re at the stage of life where you’re thinking about…well, just that – life, what’s next for you, you may be thinking about your life plan or the path you want to follow, then this post is definitely for you.

I’ve had this pretty much same conversation with two clients and the conversation has been about the life path and ultimately:

Do you jump into exactly what you want to do, your end destination. so say your goal is to become a coach – to jump right into that at the age of 23, or do you take a job and gain some experience first?

There’s a lot to unpack with this decision because, as we all know – at least you know if you’ve been following me for long enough – fear loves to mess with us.

It loves to come in and discolour things, like:

Hey, I need all this experience before I could succeed in this or that and, therefore, I’m not going to do the thing I really want to do.

Because I have this fear right now and I think I need to do all this other stuff.

But then also, we do live in a real world where you need to develop skills and experience.

In my early 20s I jumped into being a coach and I failed miserably.

I mean, I didn’t really put myself out there that much so I don’t know how much I failed from a painful point of view, I kind of pivoted and did other things.

I had the business cards and all of it and the truth is I was able to overcome the fear and I was able to jump right into it.

I didn’t really have enough life experience and I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing and so maybe had I stuck to that track, I would have become some wonder kid, 24-year-old life coach, speaker guy.

I wasn’t bad at it actually, in terms of the speaking part, but I’d like to think that the time between then and now gave me a lot of real world experience where now I’m not another cliche kind of life coach guru preaching the same lessons on the law of attraction and quoting Brian Tracy, or Tony Robbins, and whoever else and I actually have some depth and some knowledge that grounds me and my confidence with what I’m doing.

So there really is some complexity to the debate of whether you just jump in to do what you want to do, or whether you gain some real world experience and knowledge before doing it.

It’s not black and white, like:

No, you need 10 years experience before you can do anything on your own or just you should do it right away.

But here’s what’s really important.

If you take one thing away from this post, this is what I want it to be.

Whatever you choose to spend your time doing now, ensure it’s building your foundation and it’s going to contribute to that long term goal you want to reach.

So in my case between young 20-something-year old want to be coach and the Dan you see today I did a couple of things.

I got involved in a startup as well as my own business, which failed miserably.

But I had people working for me and learned a lot, a lot about myself – good and bad.

I was involved, as I’ve said, in another startup with a team of people and I worked as a freelance copywriter and all of those things.

I became an author too before I was really coaching and that contributed and all these things added a lot to what I’m doing now.

Being part of a team, as well as having my own startup or company, I learned a lot about the realities of managing people and also what I wanted.

Being a copywriter – and copywriting is one of the most important business skills there is, I think – even though I think deep down I knew I didn’t want to be a copywriter my whole life, even though it provided an awesome lifestyle and I liked a lot about it, it gave me the ability to live how I wanted at the time and contributed to my success afterwards because I developed a skill that would stay with me.

I wasn’t doing something completely unrelated to what I am doing now.

I was learning a lot and actually a lot of my clients as a copywriter were coaches so I got to know a lot of coaches and learn about how they operated and what kind of people they were, as well as how to market and grow their businesses.

That, obviously, was pretty useful when I decided to jump all in and be a coach myself.

So I definitely can’t tell you specifically what you should do next on your life path.

If maybe you’re really not ready to do the thing that you want to do, change direction, so you’re at least on track for it or at least look learning something that will be part of the foundation, which eventually makes you really successful.

And as I’ve said, you might take a pay cut.

Maybe you have to go be apprentice for someone, or take a lower paid job in an industry that is not maybe as appealing to your friends. If that is what you’re doing now, who cares?

Do that.

It’s so much more important that what you’re doing now is building a foundation for yourself so that eventually you’ll be ready and have all the tools and knowledge and experience and whatever else you feel you need to succeed in that thing you really want to be doing.

Let me know in the comments: What do you think is the right thing for YOU to do now – jump right into your path or gain some work experience first?

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