The other night around midnight, I typed the final word into a Word document, attached it to an email, and hit “send.” Breathing a sigh of relief, I went to bed. Before falling asleep, I felt a small grin creep across my face.
I had just completed one of my life-long goals: I had written my first book.
I had always wanted to write a book, but never got around to doing it. I never dared to call myself a writer, even though it was my dream.
Pursuing a dream isn’t easy. A passion takes time and courage. It requires sacrifice and diligence. Which is why I avoided it for so many years — doing the thing I knew I was made to do.
When I finally submitted to pursuing my calling as a writer, I felt free. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. I had a day job I couldn’t quit (because most book deals don’t make you rich). I had a wife that actually wanted me to spend time with her. I had commitments.
Here’s how I did my best to manage them all and still honor my calling:
First, I admitted the dream.
Writers write. Singers sing. Athletes play. A passion is not relegated to income or the attention it earns. Quite simply it’s something you can’t not do. Your dream is something you’re compelled to pursue, regardless of the outcome.
For the longest time, I pretended like I didn’t have a dream.
This is something I hear a lot: “I don’t know what my passion is.” I think that’s a lie. At least it was for me. I knew what my dream was and I was scared to admit.
Because if I admitted the dream, then I’d have an obligation to pursue it.
Second, I stopped believing the lies.
I thought that in order to be a writer, I’d have to quit my job, move to Paris, and live out a scene from Moulin Rouge. In other words, I thought I’d have to sacrifice everything and become a starving artist.
But really what I was doing was stalling. Again, I was afraid of the consequences. So I told myself little lies. Two of the biggest ones were: “My wife won’t support me” and “My boss won’t like this.”
Which couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Some of my biggest champions have been family and coworkers. And leading the pack ahead of all of them is my bride who bought me a vintage typewriter the day I signed my book contract.
No. You don’t have to quit your job to pursue a dream.
You can start with whatever you have — and we all have something, even if it’s only fifteen minutes — and put it towards that passion.
I would work on my book some days for only thirty minutes in the morning. It wasn’t much, but it added up over time. After four months, I had a book.
Third, I gave up the myth of arriving.
The day after sending in my manuscript to the editor, the thrill had already passed. Only hours had gone by, and I was ready to start another project. Somehow, I felt empty and disillusioned.
The truth about a dream is you never fully arrive. Or perhaps better stated, the journey is the destination. The path of pursuing a passion is its own reward.
If you’re taking the first steps towards your life’s work, don’t believe you will ever feel complete.
You won’t. What you will feel is contentment, a subtle confirmation that you’re headed in the right direction. It won’t be all fireworks and fanfare, but you will feel some sense of peace.
The process of writing my first book was anything but smooth sailing. It was grisly and frustrating — full of selfishness and disappointment. I procrastinated, got cocky, and oftentimes felt like a failure. But I finished. Which may be the most important lesson of all.
In our culture, there is so much emphasis on the individual, so much concentration on “me” and “mine.” When I found myself going down this dark road over the past four months — when I was tempted to stay up late or shirk my work responsibilities — I was reminded of something:
If I don’t have someone to share this accomplishment with, then what is it all for?
I hope you spend some time considering what your dream is today. I even hope you make the courageous choice to pursue it. But most of all, I hope you have someone to share it with.