IN SHORT: It’s time to go full time.
This is the single most important decision you could make as an artist, creative professional or entrepreneur.
Going full time means no turning back.
Which means you’re in it for the long haul.
Which means you’ll need patience, stamina and stick-to-it-ive-ness.
Going full time means publicly (and purposefully) choosing to play big.
Which means you’re accountable to others.
Which means you’re accountable to yourself.
Going full time means committing with both feet.
Which means you’re not screwing around anymore.
Which means this isn’t a hobby, side interest or an extra-curricular activity.
HERE’S THE PROBLEM: You want so badly to jump off the edge, but sometimes the best you can do is slide down the side of the mountain on your butt.
Here are a few ideas to help you as you make the leap out of the minors and into the majors:
1. Remove what robs you; embrace what excites you. Next time you look up from the source of your current drudgery and silently scream, “What the hell am I still doing here?” you’re on the right track. As conductor Benjamin Zander wrote in The Art of Possibility, “Chip away at the barriers that block your abilities and expression.”
And understandably, you need to be fair to the almighty mortgage. And to your family. Or whatever other obligations you have. But you also need to be fair to yourself. And your talents and gifts. You can’t sacrifice your life by being everybody else’s dream machine. If your heart needs to sing, let it. What’s currently preventing you from becoming the best, highest version of yourself?
2. Admit that you’re never really ready. Shoot for eighty percent – then jump. Declare it done. Proclaim, “The hay is the in barn.” Because eventually, you’re just going to have to jump into the water with your clothes on and trust that you’ll figure out how to swim before the water fills your lungs. Even if you don’t think you’re old enough, smart enough or experienced enough.
Here’s a newsflash: Nobody is. Nobody ever was. If they were, they would have done something else sooner. This reminds me of my friend Perry. He’s a marriage counselor who reminds his fearful couples: “You will never have enough money to have a baby.” Same thing for you: If this career, this art, this calling is your baby; you’re not going to be fully ready to have it. May as well get pregnant anyway. What is waiting getting in the way of?
3. Full time means full time. Discipline isn’t something you have – it’s something you continually pursue and consistently practice. As I learned from Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, “A professional shows up every day, shows up no matter what and exposes himself to the judgment of the real world.”
That’s the difference maker that separates the professionals from the amateurs: The discipline to punch in, every morning. Even when you’re hurt, tired, sick, annoyed, hung over or dehydrated. You clock in no matter what. When was the last time resistance beat you?
4. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. Most of your fear stems from a lack of know-how and a surplus of perfectionism. Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous combination that creates inertia. Here’s the reality: If you waited until you knew what you were doing, you’d never make it out of your basement and into the world.
The trick is learning to be strategically impatient, tapping into your natural sense of urgency and developing a zero-tolerance policy for anything that causes delay. How much money is being (too) patient costing you?
5. Install a regiment. How you spend your day – literally, hour by hour – will determine how much money you make, how happy you are, how healthy you are and how successful you become. Especially when you don’t have a “real job.” You almost have to force yourself to create a typical day. Otherwise you get cabin fever and your time ends up managing you.
I’m not suggesting you choreograph every waking hour of your life. The challenge is designing a typical day for you, which enforces (some) structure and predictability, while still leaving room or spontaneity and playfulness. As long as you constantly ask yourself if what you’re doing – in this moment – is consistent with your number one goal. Have you pictured your ideal day yet?
6. Be patient with parade rainers. As you passionately tell people about your work, some will attempt to steal the wind from your creative sails. They’ll ask you questions like: “So, is this all you do?” “What’s your real job?” “And does that actually pay the bills?” I know. It’s frustrating, rude, assumptive and negatively propagates the starving artist script. But don’t get upset.
Remember: When people ask questions like that, it’s a projection of their artistic frustration and insecurity. And they’re not “just looking out for you,” even if they defensively claim that right after spending ten minutes shooting down your dream like mallard on the first day of duck season. The reality is, when they see or hear about your full time career, their defense mechanism silently screams, “But I couldn’t make it an artist or entrepreneur, so why should you?”
They see something in you they either wish they had, or did have at one point, but lost. As Steven Pressfield also reminds us, “When we see people living their authentic lives, it drives us crazy because we know we’re not living our own.” My advice: Don’t take it personally. It’s got nothing to do with you. When people rain on your artistic parade, how do you respond?
7. Expect to leave people behind. Even if you love them. Even if you’ve been friends for years. Even if they didn’t do anything to hurt you. Professionals surround themselves with other professionals who challenge and inspire them. That means: No amateurs. No hacks. No bloodsuckers. No wannabes. No nevergonnabes. And certainly, no losers who bring drama you don’t need. These individuals need be deleted from your life.
Instead, hang with people who are going somewhere – other than the back porch to smoke pot. Hang with people who are making money – not people who want to learn how you make money. I know it’s a hard rope to cut. Personally, I once chose to divorce an entire group of close friends that I had loved since high school – because they were busy doing cocaine, and I was busy changing the world.
Admittedly, I suffered a mild panic attack the next day. But I got over it. And what’s interesting is that none of my old friends ever called to ask where I was. So instead, I found new, better, smarter friends who played in the same sandbox as me. It’s all part of going full time. Your career is too important to allow your dreams to be realized at a significantly slower pace because you’re too busy looking over your shoulder.
Remember: You are the financial average of the five people you surround yourself with most. Who do you love that you need to leave behind?
8. Remain a lifelong student of the game you’re playing. First, stay dedicated to mastering your craft – work at it every single day. Second, stay updated with the trends in your industry – research your brains out. Third, stay associated with fellow professionals in your line of work – network your ass off. Fourth, stay affiliated with your professional association – volunteer your face off.
Fifth, stay fascinated with the art of what you do – even if you don’t consider it an art. And sixth, stay satiated with the business of what you do – because if you don’t plan to make it a business, don’t bother. Your education doesn’t end when you get your diploma. Lifelong learning is what full timers do. What are you a student of?
REMEMBER: Making the decision to go full time is stressful, confusing and difficult. Not just for you, but for your family as well.
And, to compound the suckiness of the situation, you’re terrified.
So, my response to that fear is:
1. You’re not alone. Anybody who’s ever gone full time experienced some kind of fear. Including me, the person writing this very article.
2. Think about what you’re afraid of. Failing miserably, or succeeding tremendously? Sometimes the scariest prospect is the one where all your dreams come true.
3. Think about the last time you crushed one of your fears. My guess is: You got to a point where you couldn’t take it anymore and just said, “Ah, screw it – let’s go!” And I bet, once you got there, once you crossed that line into supposed fearful territory, you looked back at what you thought was a minefield only to realize it was nothing but a snap-n-pop.
HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: Once you choose to commit with both feet, world says yes to you. Providence moves to orchestrate the ideal conditions for you to make a name for yourself.
No more dabbling.
No more screwing around.
No more sliding your butt down the side of the mountain.
Jump. Go full time. Take a risk and watch what the universe does.
I promise: You’ll never look back.
Either that, or, you’ll fall flat on your face, lose all of your money and your family will leave you for someone else who has a real job.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you have the courage to bet on your artistic vision?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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