“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” E.M. Forster
Why do you do what you do?
Is it to make money or is it because you enjoy it?
If it’s because you enjoy it, you’re much better off than doing it simply for the money – even if your bank account suggests otherwise.
It’s one of the reasons why I ventured into a completely new career.
I nearly gave up. I was ‘that close’ to believing I wasn’t any good and had no hope of achieving my dream. If you’re feeling this way, my message is simply ‘don’t give up’.
Keep reminding yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing every time you have a bad day or experience a disappointment. Your dream just might be around the corner, just as mine was a few years ago.
I’d finally decided to make a stab at writing. “Be warned…” came the ubiquitous advisory warning “…it’s extremely difficult to get published…” (which is certainly true). However, the best advice always included “…but don’t give up”.
I’d hit a long, dark tea-time of the soul. My 9-to-5 office job (the one which paid the bills) was trying its best to turn me into a corporate automaton. Writing was the only thing preventing my brain from turning to mush.
Although I loved creating wacky children’s stories, I was writing in an isolated and isolating bubble without any meaningful feedback and steadily accumulating nothing but a large collection of soul-destroying impersonal rejection letters.
I knew my stories were engaging (better than several of the published books I’d regularly read to my kids) but publishers weren’t yet agreeing with me. At that point I almost succumbed to the nagging doubts – ‘Come on James, did you really think you could do this? Just ignore the silly stories and get back to your spreadsheets.’
Just I was starting to doubt myself, a request to submit manuscripts from Britain’s Next Bestseller popped into my Facebook news feed. I responded whilst expecting another rejection. But then something wonderful happened; I got a response that didn’t include the word ‘unfortunately’.
Britain’s Next Bestseller liked my ideas and my stories, and wanted to help me achieve my dream. They were willing to offer expertise, contacts and a metaphorical arm around the shoulder (aka, a shove to step out of my comfort zone). All of a sudden, I had an illustrator and I was being interviewed on BBC radio!
At the time, it was both crazy and stressful, but at least I was doing something to make my dream a reality. My children’s picture book, “Mrs Vyle”, a deliciously disgusting tale full of slobber, smells and funny noises that adults will enjoy reading as much as children will love the naughtiness of, was finally published September 2014.
So, if you are venturing into a new career, or turning your hobby into a business ‘dream come true’, here are my 5 top tips to help you keep going:
- Take regular moments to re-think, re-focus and remember your true motivation.
- Social media is great way to connect with the like-minded, find a sympathetic ear, get advice and, more importantly, get known. Get on Twitter or Facebook and explore, someone out there is doing exactly the same as you.
- Opportunities for self-promotion are everywhere; once you’re open to them it will become second nature. Every week is ‘National Something Week’ somewhere in the world, do your research and piggyback them.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, everyone has a bad day take the positives from any situation.
- If you feel close to giving up with what you’re trying to achieve – no matter what business you’re in – don’t’. You’re probably fed up of people telling you to persevere, but it really is true. You do need to keep at it.
Have you ventured into a completely new career? What tips would you add?
Featured image: Unsplash
This article has been updated from the original, published here on June 4, 2014