The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Oh, Procrastination, killer of dreams. Why do you taunt me so?
It is a rare person indeed who knows what they want to do with their life at a very young age and has the determination and wherewithal to make it happen early on in their adulthood. Rarer still are those who can instill their entire lives with the passion they first started out with.
Most of us are so busy trying to find something that will pay the bills without us losing our minds. Some of us are lucky enough to land in a job that we enjoy while making ends meet. I was lucky enough to do that.
After graduating from college with a Bachelors in Music and Business, I floundered around in retail management for a few years. I had worked retail since I was sixteen and was pretty good at it. I had some connections that got me into ToysRUs (an old district manager from my Barbara Moss days was in charge of the local TRU at the time, and my sister was running the sister store, KidsRUs, in town). I transferred to the Buffalo, NY district as an assistant manager and spent the most miserable year of my life there. Not that there was anything wrong with the company, the store, or the people. It was a great company to work for and everyone was nice, but I lacked passion for my job.
Fast forward a year, and I was back home, engaged to my high school sweetheart and looking for something different. Thanks to a family friend, I landed in a medical billing company without a clue as to what I was doing. Two years into it and I was managing the anesthesia account for the company. The learning curve was huge, but I was enjoying it. A few years later, the anesthesia group stole me and asked me to be their practice manager. I am still there, almost 20 years later. I have continued to feed energy into this career, pursuing various certifications and most recently becoming a certified coding instructor and dipping my toe into teaching workshops and speaking to groups of coders and billers.
Following these new avenues has kept me interested and instilled passion into my day job. Even the best job gets stale if you don’t continually thrive to pursue new skills. But is this the dream of my life?
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis understands that I dream of writing. As a closet writer for the majority of my life, you would think that I filled all my spare time frantically scribbling words and stories on every scrap of paper I could find. Not so.
I was the worst kind of closet writer. I kept my passion hidden from everyone including myself.
I didn’t write at all after college, and even then, I was penning journal entries instead of fiction. I buried my dream and my passion deep down. I buried it under excuses -no time, no energy, won’t pay the bills.
I procrastinated. Big time.
I was 39 years old before the urge to write a story bubbled up and out of the confines I had placed around it. 39. Years. Old. Half a lifetime for most, a full life for some. I had squandered all that time paying the bills.
Yes, I enjoy my day job. Yes, I am passionate about learning as much as I can and pursuing new challenges there. But it is not my dream, and everyone needs their dream.
So, why do people procrastinate instead of running towards their dream with open arms and a heart full of joy? I think people put off chasing their dreams because they think the timing needs to be perfect. They need time and energy and financial independence so they can quit their day job and just ___________ (fill in the blank). The problem with this is that if _____________ becomes work you may not want to do it anymore. The above argument is an excuse. It is just covering up the real reason we procrastinate.
What’s the REAL reason we procrastinate instead of running towards our dreams?
Fear. Not only in what could go wrong, but what we have to give up or change if we actually succeed. It took me half a lifetime to realize that. I wasn’t so afraid of failing. Hell, I expected it! But what if I didn’t fail? What if I actually became a writer who could pay the bills with my words?? Would my life change? Could I handle that?
I failed to realize two very important things.
1. Success NEVER really happens overnight. If I were to be lucky enough to be an “overnight” writing sensation, it would truly take months and years. During that time, I would be modifying my life in small increments. I would not need to make any sudden big scary changes.
2. It is actually okay if I am NOT an “overnight” success, if my dream never pays the bills. There is such a thing as being a passionate amateur. And that is okay, too. As long as I am putting out my best possible work and not just jotting down a few thoughts and hitting “publish” on Amazon, I will be a writer. And if it never pays the mortgage, I can actually live with that. Yes, it would be truly awesome if Pixar wanted to make my book into a movie, but until that time comes, I have a job that I enjoy and I am good at it. I am going to continue pursuing my day job with zest as well as my dream.