16 Apr Choose courage every day to fulfill your purpose
Three years ago I quit my plum corporate job to have more time for writing. Everybody said it took a lot of courage, but I knew I still harbored many fears. The fear that I now HAD to write, no more excuses. The fear that my writing wouldn’t be any good. The fear to submit stories and be rejected. The fear to be criticized for my mistakes, so plainly revealed in my memoir. And the fear of financial insecurity.
Little by little, I overcame some of my worst anxieties. I built a fairly steady writing practice, and finished the manuscript of my memoir, which I am now revising. I decided to write truthfully, no matter the consequences. I developed a thick skin and learned not to take rejection personally. I dared to blog and experiment with many topics and platforms. But the fear of financial insecurity persisted.
This fear made me accept work projects I didn’t enjoy just to keep some income rolling in. It led me to apply for jobs I wasn’t sure I wanted, instead of focusing on developing the business I had launched —I was scared that if my business became very successful, it would eat up too much of my creative time. A full time job, I reasoned, would also take time, but now that my creative mojo was established I could surely keep writing on the weekends. Never mind that I had never been able to write consistently over the previous twenty years of holding full time jobs.
Having no money is rightfully scary, but the crux of the matter is that I wasn’t penniless. When I quit my executive position, I had some stock options that needed to be sold in the next three years, and that complemented my business’ earnings. My family’s standard of living took a definite dip, but we weren’t indigent.
Even with this advantage, anxiety corroded me. It was partly a learned behavior. I grew up seeing my dad’s constant anguish over finances. He walked around and around the table in our foyer, his hands on his back, his eyes trained on the floor, worrying about worst case scenarios. You wondered how he hadn’t dug a trench as deep as the burrows on his forehead. Although he was a lawyer, he had to support ten kids and his wife, and money got tight. He couldn’t put any aside for retirement, so as he grew older, his anxiety increased. It was, however, disproportionate to his situation. Just like mine.
In my case, I suspect that fear of financial insecurity is related to the resistance to achieve my dreams, a fear many creatives share, as Steven Pressfield describes. This fear tries to push me towards work that will eat up my time and my energy, so I will have a good excuse to stop committing to writing.
The last couple of months I thought a lot about all this and I took a momentous decision. I will not take any more work or clients I don’t enjoy. I will double down on writing. I will even move to a more affordable region (I live in the Bay Area) rather than sacrifice my priorities and my values. I will choose courage again. Because if you want to fulfill your purpose, you have to choose courage every single day.
How about you? How do you confront the resistance to accomplish your dreams? What helps you choose courage every day?
Photo: My just completed manuscript.