Do not wait for life to offer you the time to do that thing you’ve always wanted.
Do it now.
Otherwise, you will never do it. You’ll spend your life explaining all the reasons why you didn’t, instead of doing it and discovering whether or not it’s what you wanted.
I’m not counseling throwing caution to the wind, pursuing your dream “at any cost” or incurring a mountain of debt in the process. I’m saying identify the real dream you’re dreaming, make a plan, and execute.
All my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I’ve loved books since before I can remember, and I’ve “written” them since I was old enough to scribble images on a page. Yet I was almost forty years old before I found an agent and accepted my first publishing deal.
Because I made some mistakes along the way.
Mistakes I wouldn’t have made if I had taken my own advice earlier.
I don’t regret the path I walked to get me to this place. I’ve learned from all my experiences, and they combine to make me the person–and the writer–that I am today. But I have goals I’m trying to reach, even now, and I’m pursuing them far differently than I did in the first 40 years of my life.
Identifying the real dream means more than simply daydreaming, or saying “wouldn’t it be nice if…”
“Be as famous as J.K. Rowling” is a dream–but not one that a person can realistically pursue through conventional means. The identified version of that dream is probably “make a living from writing, instead of other work.”
Once you have an identified dream–a thing you can pursue in the real world–the next step is make a plan.
Start from the goal–in this case “make a living from writing.”
Identify exactly what that entails. How much money do you need per month, per year, to make that happen? (Remember to budget for emergencies and occasional expenses, as well as savings to get you through the times when nothing sells.) Figure it out. How many books do you need to sell to make that happen? How many books do you need to have in print to make those sales?
Look at other revenue streams also–do you like blogging? Blog for hire. How about freelance article writing? That’s a good way to earn a living also. Explore the options. Find a group of activities that will achieve the goal.
Then, work backward. Figure out the achievable, incremental goals–the stepping stones you need to follow to make that dream reality.
If you need ten books in print and selling to make that annual income, you’re probably going to need at least ten years to make that happen. Fewer, if you can train yourself to write more than one book a year (but do not sacrifice quality for quantity, or you won’t hit the income benchmarks). Back it out all the way to now, one step at a time.
If you’re like me, the start is “learning to write a book a year, and find an agent.” That’s where I was in 2010, when I established my initial plan.
Which brings us to…executing the steps and bringing the plan to life.
The plan becomes reality one step at a time. You don’t jump directly from unpublished writer to supporting yourself entirely with writing. For most of us, it’s a long and work-intensive process–but no matter how you get there, you start with step 1.
For me, that was “learn to write a book a year.” Also, “find an agent.” It took me two manuscripts to get onto a book a year schedule. (In 2014, I upped the ante, and now I’m writing at least two books a year. In 2016, I hope to write three.)
I’m still not making all of my income from writing, but I’m making significant progress–one step at a time. You can too.
The end of the year is upon us, which makes this a perfect time to start planning how to get to where you want to be. Have a dream? Make a plan. You’ll get there faster than you think, if you’re willing to stop dreaming and execute…one step at a time.
So, tell me: what’s your dream?