Are you trying to make a change? Trying to chart a new course for your life? If so, tell me: What do you want to be? Now ask yourself one question: What are you?
What are you? It may sound like an odd question, but how you answer it will play a large part in how successful you are in achieving your goals. Allow me to explain, using my own personal experience.
For a long time, I struggled with my writing. You see, I’m the type of person who doesn’t like putting myself “out there.” Maybe you are too. Unfortunately, in today’s publishing world, authors have to put themselves out there. Promoting their work is part of the author’s job these days, whether they’re self-published or published by a publishing house. Gone are the days when a publishing house would invest large amounts of money in marketing campaigns for new authors (unless they’re convinced you’re the next J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or John Grisham). Publishers want authors who have built a following, built a brand. And that means it’s up to the author to do that, whether on their own or by enlisting marketing people or companies. That’s probably true for other creative careers as well.
Back then, the answer to the question “What are you?” for me was, “I’m a programmer who is trying to become a writer.” That answer meant that I didn’t have to work quite so hard on my writing career, didn’t have to shove myself into people’s faces (which is how I felt about self-promotion) because I wasn’t really a writer. At least not yet. I was a programmer who was hoping to become a writer.
Then one night, I had a dream. Well, several, to be honest. I remember a lot of them were about change in one way or another. But what really got to me were four simple words that I heard just before I woke up. Those four words were, “Be what you are.” It was like the proverbial lightbulb turned on over my head. As long as I thought of myself as a programmer who wanted to be a writer, I would be less likely to do the things I should be doing as a writer. But if I considered myself to be a writer who happened to do programming in order to pay the bills, that completely changed the paradigm. Under that new paradigm, it was a vital part of my day to do those things I had resisted doing when I thought of myself as a programmer. Those things were now part of my job.
So, let me ask you again. What are you? Are you a 9-to-5er trying to become a Creator (writer, artist, musician, etc…)? Or are you a Creator who just happens to work a 9 to 5 to pay bills (for now)? Do you see the difference? If you see yourself as a 9-to-5er, that’s where the focus of your efforts will be. If you see yourself as a Creator, as that being your job, then the focus of your efforts will be there. That’s not to say you’ll be any less of a 9-to-5er, but you’ll see it as a means to an end rather than an end that you’re just trying to get out of. The creative career you’re striving for is now the end. The Creator in you will be able to slip into the driver’s seat until the day when you can stop being the 9-to-5er at all, and be completely and totally a Creator. It’s a lot easier to work toward an end you desire than it is to try to avoid an end you don’t want.
In your mind, you must first become what you are: a Creator. Then you will find it easier to do everything that a writer, artist, musician, etc… would do, things that may have made you uncomfortable as a 9-to-5er. Move your Creative goal up on your priorities list. Once you do that, your life will follow.
Be what you are.
You can do this.