Being great at something is hard work and can make you suffer at times. You must understand, however, that with greatness comes a price. Greatness is learned, not given. There are a few things to keep in mind when pursuing your dream.
You Have the Years
You have the time on the micro-level, but I’ll get into that later. Whether you’re twenty-five, forty, or fifty, you have plenty of life left in you to pursue greatness. I’m twenty-six, and for some stupid reason feel so rushed to get all my projects out as fast as possible. Once you understand that it takes a long time to master something (and lucky you, you have plenty of time), then you can relax a little. Trust me, your mental health will thank you.
I must learn this tip above all the others I’ll be mentioning here. In fact, this one thing was my inspiration for this blog post. I have, at one time: blogs to write, short stories to write, a novel to polish, and a new novel series to outline. It’s a lot!
It’s nonsensical, but I feel like I need to do one thing at a time. My shorts occupy the same setting my new major work will be set in, and I’m using them to explore it and introduce the milieu to potential readers. How many short stories do I need to write before I’m allowed to start my new project? Do I really want to lock myself down and dedicate myself to one project for who knows how long? I won’t be able to write an off-topic novel for a long time. It’s scary, but I need to keep in mind one thing: I have decades ahead of me to chase greatness. There’s time.
You Have the Hours
Most of us work forty-five or fewer hours a week at our day jobs. If you get to do what you love; congratulations, you’ve already one! Unfortunately, the rest of us tend to get burned out. We have about 119 usable hours in the week (minus seven hours per night for sleep). We spend less than half of that at our day job. Now I understand that a lot of that time is used up on mundane things: shopping, eating, chores around the house, commuting, but there’s still a lot of time left over that we’re not acknowledging.
Personally, I get tired after work. It’s stressful putting up with what I have to do (until I can do what I want for money). When I come home, the last thing I want to do is boot up my computer and get back to work writing. I don’t have the creative energy for it. Not consistently, at least.
So, I get up three hours earlier and do my writing before work. I don’t really care if I’m tired at work if I expend my energy on something I love. You can, and should, do the same. In my case, I work at 6 a.m., so I must get up at 3 a.m. Hopefully, you have a more reasonable schedule.
Think about the macro timescale mentioned before. Three hours to work on your dream every single day is a whole hell of a lot of time over the course of a few years. You will be transformed.
You Have What’s Necessary
You have the time, and therefore have what’s necessary. Humans have an amazing talent for adaptation. With time, you can learn all the skills you need to succeed in whatever endeavor you’re after.
You can learn to draw. I know it’s a monumental task, and when you compare your early sketches to those talented folks on Twitter you can get discouraged, but on a long enough timeline, you will be better. With enough dedication, you could learn a new language from scratch and perfect it enough to work as a translator within a year.
It is precisely because you have the time that you have everything you need to succeed. I have the years and willingness to bleed over my keyboard nearly literally. On a long enough timeline, I will win.
Like Tom Bilyeu, CEO of Impact Theory and Co-Founder of Quest Nutrition said: “Focus on winning in the long run. On a long enough timeline, you can beat anyone you’re willing to outwork.”
Do You Have What It Takes?
The formula for success is just that, a formula. We can all look up and stalk someone who is exactly where we want to be in life and follow in their footsteps. The steps we need to take are clear.
But do you have what it takes? It’s more than walking in someone else’s shoes or getting up at 3 a.m. It’s about your dedication and willpower. You need to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons because neither your mind nor body will allow you to work as hard as it takes for no reason.
If you only want to learn how to draw like a pro for the money, then you won’t put in the work required, because it takes an insane amount of effort. I won’t be a great writer if I only want fame, money, or whatever else would come with it.
The first notable book I picked up was The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. At first, because I hadn’t read anything for pleasure since high school, it was difficult to find the will to read. Once I started a routine, however, I couldn’t put it down. That book brought me out of a dark place. Deep in my depression, where I didn’t think anything mattered, I found purpose.
I found that my depression could not coexist with the hunger for words that my eyes felt. It brought me out of myself. Isn’t that the point of fiction?
Now I write. I write to get better. I write so that I might dispel, even momentarily, the dark depths of depression that plagues people.
Why do you want what you want? That’s the most important question.