There you are. Preparing your coffee before you head to a job that just doesn’t do it for you anymore. Well, it pays the bills. But it doesn’t make you come alive.
There’s that shiny thing off in the distance, you know it. The thing you’ve always wanted to do. The thing you would always rather be doing. Maybe it’s playing guitar, maybe it’s directing a movie, maybe it’s writing a book about that awesome idea you once had long ago.
But it’s a part of life, right? You have bills to pay and maybe even mouths to feed. It’s just not the time to take risks. So you stay here. Stuck.
You reason with yourself.
How could you be so selfish as to take a risk that could put yourself and others in jeopardy of not having the things you need to get by? No, you are a responsible being who has priorities and things to get done.
You’re used to making a decent amount of money. It took you years to get to this place, to make all this income, why take a step backward?
You allow the influence of others to hold you back.
Remember that one time your parents sat down with you to have a serious chat about your life and when you would finally decide to give up pursuit of these crazy dreams? You all agreed that if you weren’t “successful” by a certain age, you would pursue “other things.” That age has long since passed. Why would you go back on your word?
Plus, your friends who you grew up with through college, the same ones who used to dream alongside you, also have “grown out” of their dreaming phase. You only reminisce now while you are out having drinks. Then go back to your respective comfortable lives. They tell you they will put in a referral for you, at another job you know you would hate but at least it pays more money.
You failed big time and decided not to get back up after that last time.
You gave it everything you had. Energy, hopes, money, time. You finally had a chance to prove yourself and you missed it, hard. You had to go back home with your tail between your legs. Maybe asked your parents to move back in with them for a short time while you got back on your feet. You became bitter at your broken dream. Your ego crushed. You became numb, finally pursuing other things. But still, every time you are at a concert with friends and see somebody playing that bass guitar like they were born to do it, something dies inside of you all over again.
It was time to move on. It was time to “grow up.”
This “stuck” is almost always a mental barrier that we have created for ourselves (Unless it’s a restraining order. It’s there for a reason. Obey). The scary truth is that you have one life to live. One life to live to the absolute fullest. One life to leave a print on the world. One shot to leave it better than you found it. One life to make a lasting impact. In some way, I think that’s enough reason to be a little selfish. Not only that, but a better example to the rest of the world for how we should be doing this life thing. What kind of example do you want to be for the next generation? One who is brave, takes risks, pushes the world forward? Or one who sticks with what is safe and comfortable, and tells them to do the same later on in life?
Ok, so now that I may have gotten you a little fired up, let’s talk about what it takes to move forward. Let’s dig into the whole “saving your soul” part of all this. I’m not referring to the after life here, that’s for all of eternity. Today, we are only going to be focusing on this life. The one you are in right now. The one you should be getting the absolute most out of, because nobody else is going to do it for you.
Here’s the first step to saving your soul:
Listen, it’s the first for a reason. It also happens to be the most difficult. The one that everyone gets stuck on. Again, that mental barrier. It’s when we get stuck in between our own two ears. In our brain place.
Let me tell you something about believing. It is much harder than un-believing. Un-believing happens in an instant. Something happens, a truth is exposed, and BOOM, you un-believe. Kind of like when you discovered that Santa wasn’t real. After that, you never believed otherwise.
But believing, that’s the hardest of all. It’s even harder when you’ve gotten to the stage of un-believing. I can’t convince you to believe in yourself in an instant. You have probably spent most of your life trying to convince your self to believe in you. This can only come from digging deep. Drowning out all of the noise and then making a decision. Sometimes the decision has to come before the belief does. You make the choice to believe, even if you’re not quite there yet. It’s like a commitment or pact with an old friend. This time, the old friend happens to be you.
So after making a promise to yourself to believe, even though you may not be fully there yet, it’s time to become a stalker. Well, a friendly-internet-troll kind of stalker.
It’s easy for us to sit at home in our comfy-bitter chairs and internally judge those who have achieved our dream status. We make excuses for them such as, “Well, their dad was already in the industry, so of course they were a shoe-in.” It’s easy for us to reason why they achieved their dream and we didn’t.
So I am going to ask you to go back to your now comfy-curious chair, get on the internet and sit there for a little bit longer. Long enough to search for actual people who achieved your dream status and research them. Yes, I am asking you to become an internet troll (I wasn’t lying earlier). It is VERY likely you will discover plenty of stories of people who put in a lot of effort, a lot of hard work and who had a whole lot of failure. I promise.
Do this enough, and you may begin to feel some warmth melting the ice off of your cold bitter heart. What’s that? Un-belief starting to melt away.
Don’t forget. You made the pact with yourself. The choice to believe. Guess what? Others have done the same. They promised themselves. Find some of these people. Connect with them. Something is going to happen. Here’s the next step in saving your soul.
Take Action by becoming a master at your craft.
Ok, you’ve proved it to yourself. You actually have seen and believe that some of these crazy dreams could become reality. Yes, seeing seems to be believing, but one day we will get ourselves to where we no longer have to see to believe (that’s another blog for another time).
In The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins, he shares the journey of the apprenticeship to mastery that took place in the Middle Ages. This required a student and a teacher. In our case today, a mentor. Apprenticeships would begin as early as the age of twelve. My guess is that you’re probably not twelve and we’re not in Kansas anymore. That’s ok. Because you made a choice, remember. To believe and you are going to do this thing. It’s time to go back to being a student. Reach out to others considered Masters and take on a posture of humility and be ready and willing to grow.
So how do you make this work? How do you effectively manage your time when you already have your day job and plenty of other responsibilities?
Dedication. This comes by saying that fulfillment of this choice has more weight than your need to watch T.V., than your need to hang out with friends every night (they’ll understand if you cut back to only once a week), than your need to sleep in at every chance you get. Simply put, it’s going to take a lot of effort and intentionality.
In this season you are greasing up the squeaky gears that have gone rusty over time. You are sharpening your skills. Researching a ton on your craft and others who are successful doing what you want to do. Not to mimic, but to gain perspective on where the market is at within your particular field. But mostly, you practicing the hell out of what it is you need to be doing. If it’s building guitars, you are crafting day and night. If it’s writing, you are waking up at 5AM every morning and writing new content and learning your voice. If it’s App Development, you are tinkering with all relevant technology and figuring out how things work, perhaps late at night with coffee sitting next to you.
An important thing to note, is that you could get stuck here for much longer than necessary. Especially if you happen to be one of those awkward perfectionists, like myself. You’re scared to show anybody your work because it’s not perfected yet. DO. NOT. WAIT. FOR. PERFECTION.
Find a mentor, practice, then create. Continue taking action. It should not always be the same action. Once you have invested a sufficient amount of time (If you are in this place for longer than 6-12 months, you need to get moving) as an apprentice, it’s time for the next step to becoming un-stuck.
Building a Network and Marketing yourself and your goods.
Bleh. Yes, I used the words networking and marketing. This post just got adult real fast. But you can choose to man up and learn about self-promotion, or stay a closet dreamer for the remainder of your Earthly life (I’m pretty sure we already went over why that would suck).
I am not sure if you are a podcast junkie like me, but if you are, you may have heard the term “solopreneur” maybe you haven’t. Basically, it’s a bunch of crap. Being “solo” will never get you anywhere. Remember, you probably have bills to pay and potential mouths to feed, being “solo” will not get you those things. You need help. You need customers. You need teachers and you yourself should also be a teacher in order for all of this to work out. You need a network. Is a single person stranded on a desert island, successful? I don’t think many will see it that way. So convince yourself now that you need people and also that people need you.
That’s where marketing starts. Convincing others they need you (or your product). It feels gross and sleeze-bally saying that, I know. But if you aren’t convinced they won’t be either. Donald Miller has a great post about self-promotion titled, “Some Thoughts on Self Promotion and Why Arrogant People Think it’s Wrong.” You should definitely check it out if you still need to convince yourself.
Remember earlier when we talked about being brave, taking risks and pushing the world forward? The world isn’t going anywhere and not single person will be affected if you don’t. It’s selfish to withhold your gift from the world. We could all be better off because of what you as a human had to offer (what if Thomas Edison never invented the light bulb and electric power distribution? The world would be a whole lot darker.)
So what’s after that? Anything. Everything. Never stop dreaming. Never stop taking action. Get yourself un-stuck. Do it for yourself. Do it for the next generation. Do it for the world to know your gift.
Where are you now? What can you do to move forward? Please share your thoughts and/or your story in the comments below. This is a place of community. Let’s believe alongside each other and be a resource to one another. I look forward to hearing your story.