If I had ten dollars for every time someone has come up to me after an event and said, “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” I could be retired. I’m serious.
It is a sad refrain because, almost every time someone says it, I can tell that the book will never be written.
If you really want to write your book, you write your book. If you truly want to go back to school, you go back to school. If you want to take off a year and travel, you take off a year and travel. Whatever. You shut up and find a way. I’m one of those people who believes that, if you really want to do something, you make up your mind and do it. One of my mentors was a single parent who, when left with two small children, drove a taxi to get herself through law school and went on to become a much-admired judge.
We are capable of accomplishing so much if we just dare to commit and get started. When I hear the “I really want to write a book” line, I tell people of Rick Light, the service manager at my local Goodyear store. Rick once saw a box of books in the back of my car and mentioned he was writing a novel. Every time I see him, he tells me how it’s going. He spends every single lunch hour in the public library. He takes index cards and writes several paragraphs or phrases and perhaps sketches out a scene. Then, he goes home and types it all into his computer. He’s been doing this for a few years now, and I’ve always known he’d finish his book, which he did. Unfortunately, a break-in by vandals left him with no original and no backup. Did he give up? No. He started all over and will not stop until he has a new, better draft. He bolsters his vision with the kind of determination needed to create success.
This is an era where millions of people are rethinking what they will do with their careers. If you’ve been pushed to the edge by a layoff, you probably feel like you are staring into the abyss. But, how you rise out of this adversity depends entirely on whether you can do what Rick did. Figure out what you want to do, make up your mind to do it, and persevere — through anything by doing it one small step at a time.
I know it is easier said than done — and that’s the point. If it is worth doing, and if your success is worth having, you’ve got to suffer the pain to earn your reward. Don’t judge your success by what comes easy — judge it by what comes hard. My motto is “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” It comes from a Chinese proverb that so simply sets the course that one must take in life because the obstacles are inevitable. They just are. When I started writing my first book, I hoped I could have written, sold and published it in six short months before it exploded onto the best-seller list and made me rich and famous. Things didn’t play out that way at all. I suffered humiliating rejections and obstacles that repeatedly tested whether I had the mettle to earn my success. Getting up every time I fell down required me to find strength when I had none.
Fortunately, I had a support group that kept cheering for me when I couldn’t cheer for myself. Count on your friends to keep you moving forward. There were so many key moments when I felt like giving up, but others inspired me to stay in the game. If you don’t seek out that kind of positive energy, you’ll get stuck in the defeatism that destroys dreams. If you’ve been stopped along the way, don’t give in to bitterness. Reach out to your friends and tell them what you need in order to continue toward a positive outcome.
I recognize that many of us feel like we are stuck in the 2009 vortex of negativity that makes it impossible to break through to do what we really want to do. The old notion that we should do what we love seems to be a luxury in a time when people are worried how they are even going to pay their electric bills. But, I still believe that we can do what we are meant to do — if we really want to do it. The challenges of this hard economic year may mean our steps are smaller and our progress slowed. Still, we can do what we truly want to do.
I always tell the aspiring authors the same thing. “If you write a page a day, you’ll be done in a year. You’ve just got to start it and finish it.”
The question is the same for them as it is for you. Do you really want to do it? And if so, what’s stopping you from getting started?