Friends inspired me to write this post, but so did my son, Jesse, whose job has him working nine hours a day or more. It’s what happens to the best and most reliable employees these days. He gets calls for help on weekends and holidays and can’t even take a vacation without the whole place falling apart. Meanwhile, he has dreams of other pursuits.
For people in this position, the idea of taking those first steps toward change can be overwhelming, even terrifying, because it means taking risks they can’t afford to take.
Sometimes I think almost everyone has a dream—one that’s always in the back of their minds. They would love to achieve it or pursue it, but they see nothing but obstacles. I lived that life myself for decades, working at okay jobs. Some were fascinating or fun but not what I wanted to do.
Great opportunities came along, but I knew I didn’t want those things badly enough to make the type of commitment and investment I’d need to make to be a success.
Writing, for me, was different. I loved it so much that I was determined to find a way. I was more than willing to take risks and make the commitment and investment. Nothing could stop me. When we feel that way about something, the odds of making it happen are better, but we need a plan!
One thing people say to me a lot is they don’t have the time.
Of course, we juggle many, many things in life. For me, it’s writing, cleaning, cooking, the household infrastructure, exercise, reading, taking good care of myself and the people I love, etc. Time management is everything, as we know, because time is such a precious commodity.
I’m a big fan of schedules or “to do” lists. It’s my way of making sure everything gets done. If I begin to fall behind in one area, I’ll work out a new schedule. They are easy to update in Word documents, rearranging priorities as necessary.
To that effort, if you make a list of what you spend your time on, you will likely find you devote hours to stuff you don’t want or have to do so much, if at all. The same goes for people who will drain you or upset you for hours or days afterward. Some will even waste precious moments arguing with people on the internet. There has to be a way to make less or no time for those people.
It doesn’t matter if you find only fifteen minutes a day to work on your dream goals. Find the space to make your dream come true. Use whatever time you’ve got. You will expand as necessary and adjust, ultimately realizing it does fit in.
For many years now, I’ve been waking up early (4 a.m.!) and writing in the dark with the moonlight. It’s always something to look forward to when I turn in for the night. When I had to, I did my writing before work, whatever time I could devote to it, plus a workout. Before heading to work, I’d already been up seven hours. For night people, you may be able to set aside time after dinner or before bed. Make it a romantic adventure just for you, your coffee, tea, whatever, and what you love doing.
And you have to guard that time! Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m working.” Tell people when you’ll be free. Treat it like a regular job, even if others don’t.
Of course, the time you spend working toward your dream is a priority but not the only priority. How would you respond if someone approached you or called you at work? Is it important enough for an interruption? How would you respond to an invitation that conflicts with your work schedule? You get to decide if it warrants the afternoon off or not. Avoid losing momentum. Sure, you can be sick or take vacation time, but you don’t let it go for months or years. It has to be a constant in your life.
Of course, we have to have a backup plan always—a job to fall back on. Most people know to save as much money as possible.
Many years ago, however, I loved curling up with catalogs and making lists of what I wanted to order, and I intended to pay off my credit cards, but I ended up filing for bankruptcy. It took years to rebuild my credit score, and now, they give me a nearly perfect score. Imagine that!
But I’m the last one to get “the latest thing” if I decide to get it at all. I’m not looking to impress or keep up with anyone. I get to decide what’s worth it. For example, people love to go to the movies, the thrill of being in theaters and being among the first to see it. I’m so over that. I watch movies at home and save money there. Living in New York, I’ll rarely shell out the price of a ticket to a Broadway show, and I love Broadway shows. It’s just expensive, so I’ll splurge only now and then. I’m not too fond of concerts because I don’t like crowds, so I save money there, too. In short, I’ve learned, we don’t need everything we think we need.
And when you get good at saving, start investing. Your investment account can be growing toward buying you more time.
Take it seriously. Build a website. Create a Facebook page for what you do, an Instagram account, etc. Keep doing your thing no matter what. Share what you do with people who enjoy it and are likely to encourage and support you. Vision boards are great. I’ve used them in the past.
Believe in yourself. You can do it. Work hard, and don’t let people discourage you! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Strive for humility. That helps. Above all, learn, learn, and keep learning! Keep getting better at what you do. It’s a love affair, a relationship. Devote yourself to it, heart and soul.