I went to my first football match of the season last week. Ajax versus Willem II. Perhaps one of the most one-sided football matches you could ever hope to see.
Going to watch football matches was a big part of my life fifteen years ago. One weekend a friend invited me to a Tranmere Rovers match, which was the local team where I grew up. At some point that led to a second game. And a third. And then a shirt. And then a season ticket.
Suddenly you identify yourself as a ‘Tranmere fan’ and wonder why you subconsciously signed your life away to watching atrocious, overpriced lower league football.
I was talking to the chap next to me at the Ajax match, who had a similar story. He grew up as an Arsenal fan. Ten years ago he was spending huge sums of money going to watch Arsenal, home and away.
“I didn’t even enjoy it that much. It didn’t feel genuine any more.” he told me. “It took me a while to stop. It had just become… a part of who I was.”
We’re all evolving and changing, all of the time. Not in a physical evolutionary sense, but your character and perspective is constantly evolving.
Everybody has an incubation period in making a change. You start off doing something, as a one-off. Then you end up being that thing (as a result of the doing). Then doing that thing reinforces that identity.
We become ‘football fans’ by deciding to go to a game one day. And then another. And another.
We become ‘creative people’ because we start off creating things. The process of creation eventually leads us to define ourselves in a certain way.
We become ‘writers’ first by writing, just a little bit at a time.
We become business owners because we take a decision one day to get something started.
The longer you do something the harder it is to stop defining yourself in those terms. The longer you work in a particular line of work the harder it becomes to make a break and define yourself in a different way. I have a friend who is a qualified doctor, who is desperately trying to escape the clutches of medicine. I think she’ll do it, but it will take a long time.
When you want to become something the conventional approach seems to be to learn about it, or go on a course.
The better approach is to start by doing something, and learning as you go along. It all starts with a decision to do something, or to allocate your time in a different way.
What are you going to do today?