Tuesday, December 24, 2013
5 Lessons I Learned While Pursuing My Dream
One of my favorite things to say to my kids is “You learn something new every day.” They roll their eyes, convinced that this is nothing to get overly excited about. It’s hard to imagine as a child that there would ever come a day when you wouldn’t learn something new. As adults we know all too well that weeks morph into months and then years without feeling that we have learned anything more interesting than what type of food our kids hate or what size jeans our spouse wears. We pay bills, vacuum, drive the kids to piano, make meatloaf, rinse and then repeat and repeat and repeat. This year was different for me and I hope you will feel inspired to make next year the year that you learn something new every day, every month and maybe even tackle that one thing you have always wanted to do. It’s as scary as it sounds, but I learned so much about myself and had one of the best years of my life.
Lesson 1: Don’t Just Say It, Do It
Being a writer was my dream and I held it inside for many years while I worked other jobs, raised my kids and watched my husband thrive at his dream job. Many times I would say “I want to write a book.” and then I would scrub floors, wash dishes and justify not doing anything about it. In February of this year, I submitted my first story to Erin, here at My Thirty Spot and guess what? It began my life as a writer. It wasn’t enough to sit in my house and wish, I had to take action.
Lesson 2: Good People Want To Support You
This is great news, isn’t it? After feeling elated at being asked to contribute monthly for MyThirtySpot, I was then asked to submit for mariashriver.com. The editors of both blogs loved my ideas, wanted me to continue to submit articles and sent me uplifting emails with comments like “This is amazing!” or “Your best piece yet.” This is as important as air when you are pursuing your dream, good people who want to support you in moving forward. I was also blessed with a phone call from a New York Times Bestselling author only four months into my writing career. She responded to an email I had sent her requesting tips for a new writer/blogger. This woman has her own writing career, a family and a successful book; she had no obligation to me. Despite all of that, we chatted and laughed for 90 minutes and I’m still convinced it was a dream or an over consumption of wine on my part. Good people want to support your dream, so reach out and let them.
Lesson 3: Persistence Is Key and That Sucks
When my husband told me, after six months of writing, that I needed to be persistent I had to look it up in the dictionary. After half a year of writing, I was ready to quit and find a job where I could punch a time clock and be happy with business casual. I hadn’t made it big yet, so it was time for me to move on to next thing. Thankfully, he knew there was no next thing for me except to persist at what I really wanted, which was to write. “But it’s hard and I’m not making money.” I whined. “So? Do you want to write a book or look back in fifty years with regret because you gave up?” Persistence is the key, especially on days when you can’t take one more step toward your dream. My advice to you friend, put on your big girl panties and keep going. It sucks, but it is the only way.
Lesson 4: Comparing Yourself to Others Is a No No
This continues to be my biggest challenge. Why have I lacked any huge successes in my life? Because I would try something, compare myself to another person and decide to quit because I would never be as good as they were. My list is painfully long and includes debate class, attending college, and my career as a massage therapist. There was always someone who was more successful or smarter than me and if I couldn’t be the best, why try? I sent my mom a text last month that said “When I figure out how to stop comparing myself to other writers, it will be a game changer for my self-esteem.” She replied back “Then stop now and give yourself that gift.” It doesn’t matter where everyone else is, you must focus on where you are and let that be enough air to keep you going. An author friend of mine compared it to climbing Everest “There will always be people in front of you, higher than you are on the journey, but as you continue on, the line behind you grows larger, too. There is always one person striving to be where you are on the mountain.”
Lesson 5: Don’t Make Money Your Only Focus
In October, I attended my first writing conference and it was the first time my husband and I had forked out a large chunk of money in the pursuit of my career. The guilt consumed me because I hadn’t made a nickel as a writer, yet we were spending hundreds of dollars to send me to California to learn about writing. My plan was to finish my manuscript at warp speed, get an agent and get published within a few months so I could start making tons of money and never feel guilty again. Insert hysterical laughter here. That conference opened my eyes to the realities of publishing, the joys of marketing (more laughter) and the hard truth about making money as a writer. It’s a tough career and I realized that if money was the only thing driving me to write, I had better quit now. Painters paint because if they didn’t, they would chop off their ears and writers write so they can have an empty brain for a few moments each day. That is my motivation now, to write and share and hone my craft. Money may come or it may not, I cannot let that keep me from emptying my brain.
Are you ready to pursue your dream in 2014? Climb out of your comfort zone (I hate that part, too) and read up on your dream. There are millions of blogs about people who have started an eBay business or learned Mandarin or become a successful speaker. Educate yourself and then contact people in that industry who will support your dream, that’s the air you will need to keep going. Ignore the haters and remember what Dr. Seuss said “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” That in itself is amazing, isn’t it? No one can do what you can do, so get out there and show us how it’s done.
Mandy Brasher has been married to her partner in crime for thirteen years and together they have two kids. She graduated from The Utah College of Massage Therapy and spent two years studying writing at Utah State University. She is currently working with her husband at their online apparel business, blogging daily and writing a book. After working as a licensed massage therapist in Las Vegas, she moved back to Utah to start a family and find a new career. Since then she has changed diapers, potty trained, worked as a barista and organized events for a non-profit. Mandy loves to travel, cook, do yoga and read. Follow her sass mouth and unexpected adventures.