Tag Archives: courage

Knowledge Procrastination

books

Do you have a passion? Do you know everything there is to know about that thing? Here’s why that might be a big mistake.

Knowing EVERYTHING there is to know about writing, building a platform, and the publishing industry does not make you a writer. Writing makes you a writer.

Don’t let getting help stop you from doing the work. Continuing education should be extra, only done after your work is done for the day. As Ramit Sethi says, “Don’t keep paying other people as a way of delegating decisions.”

Knowledge Procrastination

Knowledge procrastination feels productive because you are learning skills that may eventually help you in your craft. The problem is that often we never get around to actually practicing the craft itself. If your goal was to make a million dollars, but you just read personal finance books and never actually sold or bought anything, you will never reach that goal. But, if after reading a book you implement just one idea, you will have learned something much more valuable about how to get closer to that million dollar goal.

The same thing is true with writing or any art form. You can get that MFA. You can take another course. You can hire another coach. But unless you sit down, face your fear, and do the work, you are just paying for someone to help you procrastinate.

Shadow Careers

That’s right. Getting an MFA might be a valuable experience. But it also might be a three-year-put-off-the-terror project. If you should be writing, but you use your MFA to get a teaching job so you can teach other people how to write instead, you are indulging in a shadow career. Shadow careers, as defined by Steven Pressfield, are careers that are close to what you want, but not IT.

Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. The shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us.

Are you pursuing a shadow career?

Are you getting your Ph.D. in Elizabethan Studies because you’re afraid to write the tragedies and comedies you know you have inside you? Are you living the drugs-and-booze half of the musician’s life, without actually writing the music? Are you working in a support capacity for an innovator because you’re afraid to risk being an innovator yourself?

An actor who just does set design. An artist who does advertising. A writer who does marketing. A poet who teaches poetry, but never gets around to writing her own.

Don’t let GETTING CLOSE TO THE THING stop you from doing the thing.

Similarly, don’t let paying for knowledge about the thing make you believe that you are actually doing the thing.

Just do the thing.

This is a Calling

 

blog-follow-dreams-realist-part-8

Welcome to the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist Series!

You have heard people say this, or maybe said something like this yourself recently:

“I should really write that story.”

“I love the guitar. I wish I played more often.”

“I used to draw, but then life happened.”

Is there something in your life that keeps showing up? Maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to try. Perhaps you love something you long ago put away. Maybe there is something that repeatedly pops into your mind when you least expect it.

That still, small voice calling you to create something, to be a creator? That is a calling. Your art is not just a neglected hobby or a forgotten diversion. It is a calling upon your life, put there by a divine creator.

Pursuing your art is not a waste of time. It is not selfish. It is answering a divine call to use your gifts for the benefit of the world.

What happens when you ignore your calling?

At first, nothing.

Nothing happens.

Nothing feels pretty safe.  There’s no struggle. No sacrifice of time. No battling fear or rejection. Life goes on as planned. Nice, safe, nothing.

What else happens when you ignore your calling?

Like Hughes’s raisin in the sun, your gift dries up. It vanishes. Without light and air, it withers and dies. Not using the gifts and creativity you’ve been given causes your soul to shrink. Your ability dissipates. A calling, ignored, turns to a dull ache that makes everything feel dull. Off. Like your whole life is a step to the left.

I’ve been in this place. In the years I spent Not-Writing, I thought about writing. I read about writing. Instead of actually writing, however, I watched a lot of TV and ate a lot of food so I didn’t have to think about the fact that I wasn’t writing. My phone was easier to face than my life. I was killing myself through distraction. My heart hurt. My body hurt. My mind didn’t hurt, but it was too numb to notice that anything was wrong.

Your gift, unpracticed, becomes another heavy thing to carry through this life.

But there is a better way.

The way to grow in your skills is to practice them and freely share them with the world. Holding on to, saving up, or hoarding your gifts is the fastest way to kill them.

Creating is more than just using your gift. It is answering your divine calling. Using your gifts opens you to light. It provides room to breathe. It is a step to the right path, a place in which everything makes sense again.

Practice your art. Share what you know. Offer your gifts freely to the world.

 

Photo by Eddy Klaus

Building A Bridge, Not Burning It Down

Have you ever seen a movie about the girl who’s having a terrible, awful, no-good day and then decides, at the drop of a hat, to jump on a plane and start a new life? Or maybe you’ve heard a great country song about telling your boss EXACTLY where he can put this job.

While slamming the door on your way out of a job makes for a fun story, it is simply not a great thing to do in real life.

Let’s talk about how to be your own boss, the smart way. Continue reading Building A Bridge, Not Burning It Down

How to Actually Make Money Online

Welcome back to the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist Series. If you missed it, here is Part One. In Part Two, we looked at how to know if you’re ready to quit your job. This week, we are looking at how to *actually* make money online.

Money is the thing no one wants to talk about. It is simmering under the surface, but we are JUST TOO POLITE to bring it up. Let’s change that. Knowing how much people made from their online businesses is what gave me the courage to quit my job. It really IS possible to make a living online. Let’s see how.

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Continue reading How to Actually Make Money Online

Am I Ready to Quit My Job?

Welcome to part two of the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist series. When this conversation started, one of the most common questions was, “How did you know you were ready to quit your job?” The first step to any big change is to define what “ready” means to you.

blog follow dreams realist part 2

Here are three questions to ask to find out if you’re ready to be your own boss. Continue reading Am I Ready to Quit My Job?

Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist: Part 1

I just quit my job in order to be my own boss! I have had this crazy dream, ever since I was fourteen, to run my own writing and editing business. This week, it became real; not a crazy dream anymore, but something I’ve been working toward for a long time.

blog follow dreams realist part 1

A lot of people have been asking how I did it. Instead Continue reading Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist: Part 1

10 Ways to Kick Fear in the Face

10. Sign up for something you’re not ready for. A half-marathon in six months? A conference where you’re sure to be the worst in the room? A weekend kayaking training trip? Yes. Do that.

9. Ask a stranger for a thing. Anything. Look for rejection until it stops feeling personal. Learn from Amanda Palmer and Jia Jiang.

8. Spend five minutes writing out action steps to take toward something that scares you. Take it out of the daydream. Write it down on real-life paper.

7. Hire a coach. Find someone who will hold you accountable to take action.

6. Start a conversation with the next stranger you see.

5. Read this every single day:

Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

4. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Follow all your fears out to their logical conclusions. Ask if you can live with the consequences. “If I pitch to this client, and they say no… then what? Then I’ll still be alive AND will have gained some valuable pitching experience? That’s not so bad.”

3. “Share something small every day.” – Austin Kleon

Show the work in progress. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Show the steps. Inspire other people to be beginners, too.

Austin Kleon Show Your Work
via http://lisacongdon.com

2. Dance like an idiot.

1. Take a deep breath. Walk around the block. Spend a few minutes alone. Face the day. Face yourself. Face the rest of us. BE BOLD!

What Does the Dream Look Like?

The dream looks like watching, waiting.

The dream looks like staring into the water, watching ideas flow in, flow away.

(photo by Steve Carter)

The dream looks like remembering little hints along the path. The dream looks like remembering words from a  thousand years ago, nearly forgotten plans, hints and reminders from surprising sources.

The dream looks scary and unthinkable… until it doesn’t any more.

The dream looks like small actions, taken each day, over consecutive days, that begin to add up to something.

The dream looks like sacrifice, decisions, choices, intentional plans. The dream looks like  “hustle and flow.” And soon even the hustle starts to feel like fun.

The dream looks like giving up on SAFE for something better. Safe no longer feels better. Safe feels like fear and fear feels like loss.

The dream feels like courage.