If you're thinking this post has all the answers for you; it doesn't. Everyone has different circumstances that lead them to the journey of living your dreams full time. However, I do believe that stories from other creatives can be inspiring; So when I was encouraged to share my story, I said yes. Before you continue reading, you should know a little more about me in case you're inclined to take my advice: I'm 23 years old, I still live with my parents and I do not have a degree.
Are you still there?
If you are, I have also have managed to work a full time job, build up a successful, sound business and live my dream within less than 2 years of a 5 year plan. While I'm not claiming to have the best or even the right advice for you, I do want to offer something that you may be looking for: Inspiration and some truth.
I'll start with my "captivating" story...
Out of kindness and to spare you, I grew up a creative (insert list of hobbies), I grew up wanting to be in control of not only my career but my happiness. (insert list of creative jobs I had once aspired to be all correlating with being my own boss) My parents (who have always been successful on and off entrepreneurs) encouraged me to do what makes me happy and to work hard. Growing up we never had things completely handed to us, even for our private education we spent our Summers stripping and waxing every classroom floor and hallway in our school to have better. Our parents wanted for us to have the best and I am forever grateful to them.
Skipping forward, I wound up never going to college. I wanted to go to college, I honestly really did and still do. I could list off the top ten reasons why my path took me elsewhere but I don't think it adds to the story very much. I had good grades in school and when I tried I had perfect grades. I love to learn and that is something I haven't stopped doing. Since I've graduated I have worked my way up from my first "real job" at Macy's, to the last few years working as a Trade Analyst for a Customs management company. (I know, exciting stuff) I won't lie, I had a nice job (with a salary and benefits) not to mention, pretty cool people as well. Although, despite the comfort of my job.. it was quite.. whats the word.. "Soul Sucking."
Being thankful for your job, while absolutely despising it, is a pretty tough balance. Just imagine if you will, for 8 hours wondering how you got here and hating how much you know about NAFTA and how little sunlight you've seen for the last 72 hours. However, as much as I poke fun at that job, it brought me to where I am so incredibly thankful to have had it. I was able to not only pay my bills but earn enough to start my business. Working 40 hours a week, creating a function website, branding, marketing, doing photography, booking clients, answering inquiries and trying to build something from the bottom was a lot more exhausting and way more expensive than I had dreamed of.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy, it's very, very hard. Sure, being your own boss, setting your own hours and choosing what you create sounds perfect.. but perfection is not the case my friends. In the line of work I have chosen, you have to not only sell your work.. but sell yourself. You think that you'll close the computer at 5 and live your life.. but you'll work around the clock, answer emails at midnight and eventually burn yourself out if you're not careful. I ran a business and worked full time for almost 2 years but I would do it all over again for this outcome.
Things do not always go according to plan. I had planned to stay at my job, save an entire years salary, still run my business and purchase all of the gear I needed and then.. then I would quit my job. That didn't happen and that's ok. I was completely blindsided and I jumped in full time sooner than I had anticipated. Was it terrifying? UH YEAH IT WAS. During that time I thankfully had friends and mentors in my creative community who encouraged and inspired me to run with my dreams and jump. It was the best decision I have ever made.
While I was in the stage of anxiety and confusion, someone gave me some very valuable information. She said "Imagine your worst case scenario and then solve it." So, I thought of my worst fear.. which was failing. After imagining that fear as a reality and holding onto the peace of God... it wasn't so bad. If I fall, I can try again. Once I realized that, the reality that I could succeed became much more realistic. So since then, running my own company has been more than I ever imagined. While that includes more work, more detail and more resources.. it also includes more joy, more opportunities and some really incredible people.
I am not going to tell you that you should quit your job because maybe you shouldn't. There were plenty of times I wanted to quit but it just wasn't the right time. If I am being honest, there may never be a perfect time for you. Maybe you have children, a mortgage or student loans to pay for. All I am saying is, at some point, you have to jump. Yes, you should have your ducks in a row, seek mentorship, educate yourself and develop your craft..but don't ever hold yourself back on self-doubt alone. Don't ever let the fear of failure keep you from doing what you WANT to do. If you continue to give 50% effort, you will yield the same kind of results.
Sometimes the right answer is to keep pushing, keep working hard. Get all the experience you can and prepare yourself; Set yourself up for success. Other times, the answer is: Jump. Give 200%, work incredibly hard, be kind and bet on yourself. You will always find reasons not to do something. Always. There is such monumental reward in risk. I can promise you that.
A girl boss and lovin' it