It was the third and last day of the biggest industry trade show of the year. For the past two days, I had been walking the Las Vegas convention center trade show floor listening to manufacturers explain why their product this year is SO much better than the product they said was better than the year prior, last year.
I was burnt out.
Not only was I exhausted, slightly hung over and nauseas from the transition from AC and extreme heat, I was also 100% disinterested in what anyone had to say.
I knew that, professionally, I wasn't doing what I supposed to be doing. I was unhappy. Miserable, really.
Not only did I not enjoy the industry I was in, I simply didn't like where my professional life was heading.
This trade show was the perfect storm.
In that moment, I had imagined myself being in this same position, working for the same company, talking to the same manufacturers about the same things 10 years from now and it scared the shit out of me.
In my estimation, I had already lost four valuable years doing something I wasn't meant to be doing and it was starting to piss me off.
It was at that time that I decided to make a change.
As I've written about previously, I was in no position to quit my job on a whim. We were a single-income family with three kids. We needed income, and we needed insurance. Also, at the time, I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I sure as hell wasn't going to trade one job for another.
The one thing I knew for certain was that I wasn't meant to work for someone else.
It would be another year before I eventually left that job to follow my dreams.
Since that time, I've spoken with 100"²s of people in a similar boat. They feel like they're trapped and not living their dream.
Here's what I tell them to do:
1. Start talking about your idea.
One of the more common questions on Startups Anonymous is from those wondering how they can protect their idea.
The truth is, you probably can't. But, what most people don't realize is that nearly everyone has an idea, but very few people execute on them.
Stop worrying and start talking.
Good things happen when you start talking. You're able to get feedback, refine your vision, practice your pitch and make connections. Maybe you'll find a partner or someone who's willing to pay you.
You'll never know until you start talking.
2. Hangout at co-working spaces and entrepreneurial events.
Have you heard the saying, "you are who you surround yourself with"? This is especially true as an entrepreneur.
To think and act like an entrepreneur, it's helpful to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. People that inspire you. People that can help you visualize what's possible. People that can get you closer to believing that you can do it.
Find a local co-working space to work from once per week. Attend local meet-ups and events. Or, participate in a Startup Weekend.
Surround yourself with people that are where you want to be and good things will happen.
3. Build a low-cost, low-tech prototype.
One of the biggest differences between those that execute and those that don't is their belief that they can. And ... their willingness to put in the work.
You don't need to be a designer or engineer to build a product these days and you don't need to hire one either.
The only thing you need is the motivation and willingness to come up with a solution.
Did you know that ProductHunt.com, which was recently crowned the Best New Startup of 2014, was started by its founder as an email list while he was working full-time at his day job?
4. Find a partner.
Two minds are often better than one. This is especially true when each of those minds run off different sides of the brain.
As an entrepreneur, you're expected to wear every hat. And, when you're still working full-time, that often becomes debilitating.
One way to move closer to your vision is to find a counterpart. Someone that can split tasks with you. Someone that hopefully has a unique skill set and is as motivated as you are.
While it's not always easy to give up half of your dream to someone else, it may be exactly what you need to get moving. 50% of something is always better than 100% of nothing.
Whether the advice above applies to your situation or not, the bottom line is this: If you're unhappy with where you're at in your career, make a change.
Everyone in this world has the same amount of time in each day. Are you happy with how you spend yours?