Did you ever have to use a hall pass in high school?
A hall pass was an item you carried with you to show teachers and administrators that you had permission to be walking in the hall.
For most teachers, it was some small token or a badge. But for my history teacher, his hall pass was a toilet seat.
That’s right. If you wanted permission to go to the bathroom or leave the classroom for any reason, you had to carry around a toilet seat.
Pretty gross, right? Who knew what the boys in my class did with that thing when they were in the bathroom, but I was never going to find out!
The teacher used this unconventional hall pass as a deterrent to keep people from asking permission to leave class.
I can’t speak for everyone else, but it certainly worked for me! I never asked for permission to leave class… not once!
We Forget We Don’t Need Permission as Adults
As children, we grow up needing to ask for permission to do things – whether it’s in school and we need to ask teachers for permission to speak or use the restroom or at home, we have to ask our parents for permission to break out the paint set, watch TV or get a bowl of ice cream.
There are rules in place for our safety and wellbeing. Parents don’t want kids spending hours on screens or eating endless bowls of ice cream. It’s for their own good because kids don’t have the ability to regulate those activities on their own.
But once we are older and once we are adults, we have complete decision-making authority. We know the difference between what’s right and wrong. We know the things that are good for us and the things that are not. We know what fills us up and brings us joy and the things that suck away our life and energy.
We may not always make the right choice, but we have the power and authority to decide for ourselves.
This is a good thing.
And yet, it seems that for many of us, once we reach adulthood, we don’t know what to do with this freedom. We have the freedom to pursue our passions and go after the career we want. We have the ability to use our time on hobbies and activities that bring us joy. We can decide to eat healthy, work out and do things that are good for our bodies. We can engage in self-care and do things that are good for our mind and soul.
And yet, for many of us, we don’t.
We feel that maybe these things are frivolous… and that we SHOULD be doing something else.
Or, we feel like we need validation or approval.
The reality is we’re looking for permission. We want approval or validation from others that taking care of ourselves is okay. Or that pursuing a dream is worthwhile.
Does this sound familiar?
Feeling Stuck and What to Do About It
Recently, I was talking to a young woman who was seeking advice about her career. She’s had a series of different jobs and none of them were the right fit for her.
So, she quit her last job. And now, she is nannying while she takes some time to determine what she wants to do with her career.
But, while on the phone, she expressed that what she really wants to do is marketing. The problem is that she has no experience. She’s applied to a number of marketing jobs, but no one has hired her because she doesn’t have any experience.
When I talked to her, she felt frustrated and stuck.
In this woman’s case, she felt the only way to get the experience she needed was through a job with marketing in the title. She wanted someone to take a chance on her.
The problem is that she wasn’t taking a chance on herself. She wasn’t investing in furthering her experience on her own. So, why should she expect an employer to do that?
Like so many of us, this young woman is waiting for permission to do the work we want. She wanted someone to give her a job so she could finally have the title of marketer.
If you ask me, this young woman is doing what many of us do… she was waiting for permission.
But, here’s what I told her and I will tell you––you don’t need someone else to give you a job or to take a chance on you to do the work you want.
We live in an incredible time where you can find information on any subject for FREE in a manner of minutes. All you need is a computer or phone and an internet connection.
You can get a college level education without paying nearly as much for it. You can read blogs, take classes, read books, watch videos and even connect with the top people in your industry––all online.
The information is all there. All available to you.
The question is will you do something with it?
For this young woman, there are so many ways she could start doing the work without waiting for someone to give her a job.
- She could start her own education by reading everything she can find online.
- She could go to a business and ask to job shadow someone for a few days.
- She could volunteer her services to a nonprofit or offer to help a friend.
- She could practice her craft with fake clients to get a feel for the work.
- She could start creating her own content to build up her network.
- She could start offering her services to people she can help.
- She could start building her own business.
Sure, she may still want to find a job. But, wouldn’t an employer be more likely to hire someone who went after the work she wanted instead of just waiting for a salary to land in her lap?
I know I would.
And this is true no matter the job or industry. You don’t need permission. You can start today.
It doesn’t matter if you want to be a photographer, writer, fashion designer or shop owner.
You can start now.
You can start writing. Taking pictures. Painting. Designing clothes. Building your network. Growing your knowledge and building your body of work.
You don’t need a degree or a title. And you certainly don’t need permission to start. The only thing you need is the willingness to take action and the courage to be a beginner.
Yes, it can seem daunting. And, you might feel like you don’t know where to start.
And that’s okay. I urge you to just take one step. It doesn’t matter if it’s the right step. It just matters that you are moving.It’s hard to grow or change when you’re standing still. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there.
So move. One step at a time.
But, don’t worry so much about which step is the right one. Just start moving and you can figure it out as you go. That’s how you learn. That’s how you grow.
Don’t wait for the job title. Or more time. Or the right circumstances.
Because they may never come.
The only thing that’s standing in your way is YOU.
So, what are you waiting for? What is the thing that you are waiting for permission to do?
Name it. Say it out loud. Write it down.
And then give yourself permission to do it. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you to go for it. Only you can do that. You are the only one who can grant yourself permission to get started. No one else.
Once you realize that, I hope you’ll see that you have everything you need to get started.
The only thing missing is your action.
I know you can do it. I’m here rooting for you!