It is hard to move out of the darkness.
To cross the chasm into being recognised, following years spent in the unknown.
To make a living from our own ideas, rather than from a payslip, can be a monumental challenge.
The hordes at the gates seem to grow with each new day:
More talent with which to compete; more obstacles; more to fear; more to blame for our misfortune.
We see how hard it is, and continuously change our strategy, our tools, and our direction.
We blame ‘distractions,’ but really, our problem is that we lack strategy.
This leaves many of us in a daze that keeps us walking the familiar loop.
Most will never move out of obscurity.
The beauty so many are capable of will never see the light of day.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~Thomas Edison
The momentum and the fire in our hearts that accompany a sense of progress will never materialise for most.
But that can change if you want it to.
This takes assertiveness.
To believe in something.
A focal point.
Not to spread yourself among many things to see anaemic progress in each.
But a core focus that is prioritised before all else.
Something that receives your daily attention. Something that you use your most creative energy for.
A nail to be hammered, one hair width at a time.
This is why people run.
A focal point means monotony, boredom, a degree of suffering, and the hardest part of all: turning your back on the allure of the alternative.
And this is true. A lot of this journey will prompt a need to escape.
To show up every day requires belief and the courage to say no a thousand times.
“If you are feeling low or trampled, unappreciated or forgotten and you are reading this, realize it is an illusion. The hope is real, you are valued, and what lies ahead is brilliance.” ~Tom Althouse
Many will choose the ‘safe’ path — the one of ‘hedging one’s bets.’
The path of spinning a few plates.
But might it be ‘safer’ to hammer on something sharp, make ground, and be driven by a firm commitment, than to get nowhere at all?
To move forward requires a strategy. But it is a deceptively simple one.
Most of us make it substantially harder than it needs to be.
Go narrow and make small, daily advancements until you start seeing little wins.
The mantra of ‘showing up’ is so often repeated for a reason.
“80% per cent of success is just showing up.” ~ Woody Allen
Show up in something narrowly-defined and something that has the potential to develop into a voice; a style; a fresh perspective; a movement.
Figure out that thing that gets done, no matter what.
An article. A comic. A painting. A sketch. A track. An essay. A clip. A paragraph. A photograph. A call made.
One thing. One strike of the hammer. It need not take all day.
Something tangible that serves as a tiny building block in a soon to be towering edifice.
You can still explore other avenues in things that interest you, but you must be aware. Awareness means you pour everything you learn into that focal point.
Don’t allow what you learn to be lost to the ether. Use it.
Everything you put your mind to is done in association with your core thing.
Read widely, but allow your new insights to inform the thing to which you are committed.
When you catch your first win, you will know that it is worth pursuing further.
Having built a career as an illustrator and now as a writer, I can attest to this.
The little wins will progress into bigger wins:
- Your passion expands. Passion doesn’t start in your chair thinking about it. It is the sensation you feel when you become increasingly more valuable in the world. It is born out of accumulation within the process. That is passion.
- Traction picks up. Engagement happens.
- You understand more of what you want and what brings you to life, informing the evolution of your ‘one thing.’
- Your skills sharpen. They have to. Mastery is attainable.
- You gain clarity on who it is who gets you. You no longer need to guess who your target market COULD be with no idea of who needs what you have to say. You begin to see who matters to you, and your enthusiasm to create more value for them is bolstered. Your people say things like ‘how are you inside my head?’
- The smaller things that also get done daily to support and propel your main thing are more relevant. Like reaching out to people. A few minutes promoting the work. A thank you.
- Your consciousness, having become accustomed to circling around a handful of topics like a moth to a flame, feeds you insights that regularly (not always) come to you almost fully-formed.
- Your creativity accelerates. You receive more relevant ideas, more rapidly, more of the time. You grow tired of the flat grey square you’ve been operating in, and you see new angles from which to see things and new dimensions that sprout from your work.
- You are a go-to expert on something, leading to having a choice in the opportunities that come to you, increased income and monetisation avenues, and a more significant, more enthusiastic following.
- Your mind, your outlook, and your well-being improve. You are more interested in improving yourself in all aspects because you are more invested in your craft.
- You develop mental toughness and the ability to work through pain and boredom. The idea that ‘genius is to be found on the other side of boredom’ makes more sense to you.
- You develop a clear voice, a stronger message, a unique style. There is value in this because most people do not find such a thing easy when they choose the scattered route. This will create more demand for what you do.
People believe in people who believe in themselves, and there is not much that demonstrates this better by showing up, every day, and backing your own vision, even when you’d rather be anywhere else but at the drawing board.
Figure out precisely what requires your attention every day no matter what, and no matter how small. Maintain that yield, and be firm about denying those things that hold you back from this.
The rewards are worth it.
They provide the fuel needed to make something extraordinary.
Most of all, don’t give up:
“Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else.” ~Unknown