This is a story about dreaming big. This is a story about taking a chance and growing into the person you need to be to make things happen.
I used to think nobody except Stephen King and the other New York Times top ten bestsellers could make money as a writer. I used to think nobody except pornographers could make money on the internet. I used to think people were mostly manipulative jerks who want something from you and should be avoided. I used to think it was best to play it safe and avoid trying anything too big, unrealistic, or unreasonable. I used to think I was small, “just me,” not very important, and I didn’t have any good ideas.
The past six months have shown me none of that is true.
It’s easy to think you’re small. It’s easy to think you should settle for what you have and be grateful for it. It’s easy to think you don’t deserve any better. That’s how I felt, and I know a lot of other people here feel the same.
There are a lot of people out there who are all too eager to remind us of the ways we don’t measure up or simply dismiss us altogether. Some people only respect people who make a six-figure salary. Some people only respect people who have audiences over 5,000. Some people only respect people who drive fancy cars, live in fancy houses, and wear fancy clothes.
Whatever. What I’ve learned is that the only thing that really matters is whether you respect yourself and believe in yourself enough to take the risks, try the big ideas, and pursue the big dreams.
When I thought I was small, I was small. I thought small, and I acted small. But my awesome coach Jonathan pointed out to me that successful people can tell who is on track to become successful, and they recognize those people as their own–it’s only a matter of time. This makes sense. I remember when Corbett Barr and Ash Ambirge launched their first products. I was around for both of those, and it wasn’t that long ago, but look how successful they both are now.
So I started thinking of myself as a successful blogger who just lacked a few months. And you know what? It really changed how I saw everything, and that changed how I acted.
For example, the Only72.com sale last month. I know most people outside this community think Karol and Baker just hired me as an underling to run their customer service and coordinate affiliates for that sale. But the whole story is I had the wild-ass idea to put together a huge package of awesome products to help folks at 17000 Days (and anyone else who was interested) remodel their lives. I compiled an initial list and approached Karol and Baker to work together because they pioneered the huge sale thing, but I expected and intended to do most of the work even if they agreed to work with me, and I fully intended to do it without them if they didn’t.
They’re big-deal people with a track record of huge sales, and this is the biggest thing I’ve done since my dissertation. When I first thought of the idea, it seemed too big for me. To tell you the truth, I was kind of embarrassed to mention it to Jonathan in a coaching session because it seemed so outrageous. But when I did, he didn’t laugh, and he didn’t say “dream on” or “don’t waste your time.” He filled me in on some logistical considerations I hadn’t thought of, but he encouraged me to try it.
If anything is the lesson of the last six months for me, that’s it: try it. Even if it seems huge, even if it seems terrifying or wildly impractical, try it.
As it turned out, the guys agreed to work with me. Although the final arrangement had me in a more minor role than I proposed, that gave me time to create a whole new product to include in the sale. I created a 25-module e-workshop in 11 days, another huge and wildly impractical undertaking that ended up being a stunning success.
In the end, my crazy idea, thinking big and trying it, resulted in 1130+ sales. Over a thousand people got a great deal on a huge collection of life-changing guides. Gross revenue was over $100,000, and we raised over $5,500 to help Team Juggernaut fund kidney research.
Just imagine if I had chickened out!
Since I started working with Jonathan, I’ve been taking on bigger and bigger challenges, and one side effect that has surprised me is how much more it takes to scare me now. Before I started pitching guest posts to bigger bloggers, I was terrified of that. But then I did it, and it went great, and now it seems absurd that I was ever scared of that. It was the same with meeting other bloggers, using Skype, even talking to readers. So scary before I did it, so easy in the rearview. I still have tons of doubts, but they seem a lot less important than they used to.
Now it’s time for a new challenge. What’s the next scary but awesome thing? Supporting myself as a business person and writer.
I turned in my notice at work. My last day is July 22.
Honestly, my job is a pretty good one, but it doesn’t light my fire. It doesn’t inspire me or make me feel alive like 17000 Days does. When I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted to do instead, it made sense to stay, but now that I’ve found something I truly love, continuing to sit in a beige box and do lukewarm work seems like an incredible waste. Every time work is shut down for a natural disaster, it reinforces what I already know: the job is not the best use of my talents and energy.
Today is Day 16,531 for me. The whole point of what I do is to help people wake up and live, squeeze every drop of joy and meaning out of each day and make their lives the best they can be. I’d be a hypocrite to stay at my job and continue letting it take time away from my passion work. I love writing, I love creating, and I love making a difference in people’s lives. That’s what I need to be doing, and starting in two weeks, that’s what I will be doing full time.
On one hand, this is kind of terrifying. It’s definitely a leap. I’ve never in my adult life not had a source of steady, external income where the money was produced by someone else and directed into my bank account every two weeks. Suddenly, it’s all up to me. What if nobody wants to buy anything I make? What if I go broke, lose my house, can’t feed myself? What if I end up a huge laughing-stock failure?
But you know what feels really great? Trying something terrifying and kicking ass at it. I’ve gotten kind of addicted to that over the past six months. It seems absurd, but after all this practice with scary stuff, quitting my job actually feels a lot less scary than my first guest post pitch or Skype conversation.
And really, what could be more exhilarating than striking off to follow your dream and shape your own destiny? Instead of working on things someone else thought would be interesting or money-producing, I will be cooking up wild ideas and doing whichever ones seem most awesome. There will be no meetings or telecons, no TPS reports, just passion work.
I want to thank everyone reading this, because you’re the ones who have made it possible. I can’t thank you enough for all of your support. Your comments and emails, and even just knowing you’re out there, have given me a reason to do all this and the courage to keep conquering new, bigger challenges.
We’re all in this together. You’ve inspired me so much, and I hope we continue to grow together and break the boundaries of the scary, unreasonable, and seemingly impossible.
I’ve got a next step in mind. I’m contemplating creating something that people have really been asking for, and if I do it, I’m going to throw my whole self into it and really do it up. As usual before a big project, my doubts are whether it will be worth it–should I put that much of myself out there? What if nobody wants it after all and I make a fool of myself?
What do you think? Was there a time when you thought you couldn’t do something, or were afraid to do it, but did? Please inspire us all by sharing it in the comments!