Let me ask you a serious question: What do you want? When you think about your life, are you living the life you want to live or the life you have to live? There is a difference. The life you want to live may still hold some of the dreams of who you really want to be – who you'd be if you weren't afraid. The writer, the teacher, the activist, the lawyer, the entrepreneur, etc. The life you want usually holds more creativity, depth, and meaning and you can envision being fulfilled by it. The life you want to live, as the magazine articles love to put it, includes your "purpose" – your "reason you jump out of bed in the morning" – the "thing you'd do for free," etc etc etc.
The life you have to live is likely the one that (barely) pays your bills and leaves you mentally, emotionally, and physically depleted. It may involve people that you don't even like or want to be around, but it's the job that pays the bills, right? It keeps food in your stomach and a roof over your head. Your body is taken care of, but in all likelihood, your soul is starving. And when your soul is weary, your body will follow. Suddenly, the dream or resolution you were excited about – you'll put it off until tomorrow. You'll do it one day. Or you'll talk yourself out of your dream altogether.
Today, I am here to tell you to not talk yourself out of that dream. If another life is what you want, it is not going to magically fly to you. You're going to have to put in the work. It will take time that you may not think you have, but it will be worth the effort. Here are some lessons I'm learning by moving from ambitious to audacious in the new year:
Don’t be Afraid to Put Yourself Out There
It's a big world out here but you would be surprised how many people are waiting to hear your voice and need to see and experience your skills in action. Freelancing puts you in the driver's seat and you get to dictate where your career goes from there – a side hustle in progress. No idea is too big and no start is too small. It may start as doing things for friends and family, coworkers, or fellow students. Word of mouth tends to be a good networking tool.
It’s OK to Think Big, but Start Small
There are plenty of freelancing sites that promise to have gigs in your chosen field and for some people that works, which is great. But I found more success in doing my own research. I happened to already love xoNecole, but seeing that they had an open invitation to submit pieces was an opportunity I needed to take. I also submitted to another online journal called Thought Catalog and the Manifest-Station (the latter through a site called Submittable, which has many sites looking for freelancers of all walks of life). Thankfully, the editors liked my work enough (and still do) to publish my work, which not only builds my portfolio, but also have confidence in my writing to keep going, and has made me think about publishing a book this year as well as start a podcast. Starting is the first step, no matter where you are. I lucked out and have found really good opportunities thus far (thank you so much xoNecole!) and if I can do it, you can too.
Embrace the Hustle and it will Embrace You Back
While we would love making money doing what we love full-time, that isn't always the case and we know the bills won't be patient while we find our way. So you may have to build your dream alongside a full-time gig that may not be as fulfilling. For me, that's working in corporate America full-time, which is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining at times. But I am trying to shift my focus in 2019 to not only being thankful for having a job right now, but also looking at it as funding my dream. As long as I can pay my bills and feed my children, then I can take the time to build the life I WANT to live and sustain our lifestyle. It is not easy by any means, but that is okay. It's called a hustle for a reason.
Which leads to my next point…
You Have to Make Time
We all have tight schedules. I myself work a full-time job with a minimum one hour commute one way, I have an older child in volleyball with two two-hour practices per week, and a one-hour game on Saturdays. During the week, I barely have time to blink. But a friend of mine recently had me complete an exercise – she had me fully write out my schedule, hour by hour, during the week and weekend, to see where my time gaps are. In starting it, I was sure I wouldn't have any time to spare; however, as it turns out, I had more time than I expected. Not much but enough that I can get some things done. So, I've started making the time in my schedule and putting the time on my calendar so that I can make time to do what I love and still make time for my other obligations. I'm not perfect, and this is still a work in progress. But my goals are important enough for me to make the time to reach them.
Move from Ambitious to Audacious
This is my mantra for 2019 – feel free to borrow. Let me be the big sister for a second – your dreams are not going to make themselves. You can want to do things, but wanting alone isn't enough. You have to get up and make it happen. You have to be willing to lean into your own life and put in the work necessary to be successful in your goals. You have to invest in you. That is going to take audacity – getting up and making, as Cardi B says, those money moves. You must be bold enough and believe in yourself enough to put your gifts and talents out there. Someone is looking for you, but they'll never find you unless you make yourself visible.
Nothing worth having comes easy, but believe me when I tell you, once you get started, you won't want to stop. There's nothing like realizing that you can build the life you want if you're just willing to put in the work needed to do it.
Featured image by Getty Images