I have a little voice inside that pipes up occasionally, sometimes every day, telling me what I should be doing with my life. Most of the time I’ve stomped on the little voice telling it to “shut up”, “not now”, “don’t you realise I have X, Y, Z to do first?!”.
There’s never a perfect time. There’s never a good time. But I needed to make sure that there definitely would be A time. I did the rocking chair test – I pictured myself at 90 years old, looking back on my life and contemplated what I would be most proud of, what I would most regret. A sobering thought. That’s when I knew that crushing the little voice was no longer an option. I needed to help it grow. In the words of Steven Pressfield, I needed to ‘turn pro’.
Despite being terrified of what the voice was saying, what it would ultimately mean, and what other people would think of my decisions, I tried to make small steps towards honouring it:
I voiced it. Not only to myself, out loud, but I also ran the concept past a few trusted individuals. It was by no means fully formed, but admitting my dreams and my doubts brought out some key supporters. Their enthusiasm gave me the validation I needed to progress through the next few baby-steps.
I found people. I actively sought out women who had either pursued a similar path before me, were juggling multiple existences, or who had made a jump altogether. Not only did this bring me out of my echo chamber, of either my existing social group or industry, but meeting people in this way provided inspiration, challenge, motivation, enthusiasm, excitement and sisterhood – I wasn’t in it alone. They understand the little voice, I don’t need to explain.
I worked the steps. I tried to clarify what the little voice was telling me. Did I want this? How about that? What about this concept? I constantly challenged myself on every desire or assumption. Finally the concept became more defined as it appeared out of the mist. Now I had articulated my big goals, but I needed to know how to get there, I needed to work out what I had to do today, tomorrow, next week, in order to make sure that I made it. Not only did these steps and tasks make it seem less intimidating and more manageable, but it meant I had a time frame. Based on these tasks I could work out the effective date of my vision. That’s not to say that the date can’t be flexible should something tragically unexpected arise, but there needed to be A time. D-day.
This approach has generated momentum and enthusiasm – I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and show up for myself, for my dreams – not those of someone else. In order to meet my timeline, I know that I need to put in the practice. I need to be at my desk and focussed. I need to deliver.
Procrastination station is a common stop for many: “tomorrow I’ll definitely have better ideas, next year I’ll have the time, in five years I’ll be more financially secure”. The list is never ending.
At some point we have to show up and create. We have to sit our bum down and just do it – no matter what it ultimately looks like. And at some point after that we have to show up in front of other people and present what we’ve created. It’s always ‘not quite’ ready, but our dreams are not going to go anywhere if they’re still sat in the laptop. Unleashing our work into the world, approaching people, seeking guidance, and soliciting feedback is the only way to move things forward.
“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no [wo]man would have dreamed would come his [or her] way.” (W.H.Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition cited in S. Pressfield’s The War of Art.)
Turning pro is about showing up every day, and practicing – contributing something towards your vision, no matter how small.
photocredit: C. Davey. Photo of Stephen Pressfield, Turning Pro (New York, Black Irish Entertainment, 2012).
Read also: Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art (New York, Black Irish Entertainment, 2002).