#2. You Need Help
Let me tell you right off the bat that I am a huge advocate of people achieving success on their own. And I understand that a large majority of your personal ladder climbing will be done with your own two legs ... but you're going to need someone to show you where the ladder is, someone else to hold it, and another person to look up your flamboyant kilt and compliment your balls when you reach the top.
OK, the analogy breaks down there, but you get what I mean. You are going to need help, even if that help only comes in the form of information. Our own Writer's Workshop is a perfect example. In it, we have hundreds, if not thousands of aspiring writers, all pitching articles and hoping to move on to the part where they get to frolic naked through fields of sweet, sweet money bushes. In that workshop, they have help every step of the way: moderators to help them refine pitches, editors to smooth out the content, other contributors giving tips on how they succeeded. Just a ton of information coming at you from every angle like a stoning made out of support.
Stone #4: This One Is Gonna Hurt Like a Mofo
Hell, even in my own writing career, I didn't know I could make a living at it until I had several proven writers and editors explain to me how it was possible and pointing me in the right direction. Without them, my next job would have been stuffing ground sausage up a chicken's ass in a Scotch egg factory. Wait, that's how they make them, right?
But don't think that I'm just talking about how to advance in the field of writing. The same holds true with pretty much every job. One person helps by cluing you in on an upcoming promotion. Another two or three vouching for you gives you an enormous advantage over any other applicant. Another person helps by loaning you his kilt because he read this article and thinks that "analogy" means something associated with buttholes.
"It's the study of anal, right?"
The biggest problem with help is that it's pretty much guaranteed not to be offered unsolicited. You're going to have to ask for it, and that can be goddamn painful for some people because their ego has told them that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But if you don't get comfortable with the idea soon, you're going to be watching someone else cashing the big-ass checks that should have been yours, while you sit in your same old wobbly office chair and slowly turn into that douchebag who does nothing but bitch about how he's always overlooked.
Want to know something crazy, though? Getting that help is as simple as casually asking your boss "I want to advance with this company. What do I need to start doing right now in order to put that into motion?" You don't need to set up a formal meeting or rehearse a speech. Bosses love that shit, trust me. It shows them that they have a motivated, dedicated employee, instead of some sack of shit who just shows up and does only what they have to do until it's time to punch their time card and run screaming into the sunset.
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"Suck my diiiiiiick!"
It has the added benefit of showing you exactly where you stand at your job. If the boss is so much of a piece of shit that he won't help you in that manner, you now know it's time to start looking for something else.
#1. You Have to Start Right Now
If you read Cracked regularly, you will hear me, Daniel O'Brien, and David Wong harp on this point because we've all lived it, and it is the most vital lesson you will ever learn about climbing the ladder:
The universe isn't handing you jack shit.
You have to make things happen, and every day that you put off starting the process is another day that you have to wait for the payoff. I've caught myself so many times saying things like "When I get my book published ..." even though I hadn't written a solitary word. It was imaginary. A water cooler fantasy that made me sound ambitious, but didn't produce a damn dime because it didn't exist. Or at my old job, I'd bitch about how much it sucked and that it didn't pay enough, but when I got home, I wasn't spending my time looking for something better -- I'd just file it away under "fuck this day" and hit the reset button so I could do it all again tomorrow.
"Wake me up when snow season gets here. And then shoot me in the face."
I've heard many people say things like "Stop planning and start doing," but I think that's just a tad off the mark. It's not an either/or sort of deal. You can continue planning, but you have to implement the early stages right away. Because just like the time-management point I talked about earlier, those plans will demand modifications as you roll along. For instance, you might have planned to punch your boss in the cock on your last day of work, but you couldn't because he was out that day for cock surgery.
It all starts with simple questions. "How do I make more money right now?" Then laying out your options: get a better job, or get a second job, or start an online sex toy shop. And then, most importantly, doing that thing. But if you wait until your entire plan is mapped out on paper exactly the way you want it, you're going to be in a world of hurt when you realize that 1) those plans never work out the way you pictured them in your head and 2) you were so enthralled, imagining yourself crossing the finish line, that you never left the starting block.
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"You're the best ... around! Nothin's gonna ever keep ya down!"
If you already see these things as common sense, that's a great sign. I'm sincerely happy for you, and I urge you to share them with other people, because you probably don't need to look outside the room you're in to find people who aren't doing any of these. And if you think I've wasted your time, well, that's even better. Think hard about what you should have been doing instead of reading this. Go do that instead. Now you're well on your way to-
You're masturbating again, aren't you? Fine, whatever.