s a young creative entrepreneur, the path to success has shown no signs of a legible roadmap. Yet, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m still pretty new to this lifestyle. It’s been about four years since I decided to pursue my passion and dreams of being a professional designer and run my own creative business. As a career path that isn’t quite guaranteed or stable, I’ve already been dealt the apprehensions — being a designer is tough, the market is saturated — what if you never make it?
Such worries are warranted, considering that I question on a daily basis the path I will take to make such goals a reality. What I have been unable to explain and vocalize up to this point is that this choice of pursuing a dream is 100% mine. No one has forced me into choosing this career path, this is a decision I have made — I am acting alone in this process. I am setting my aim and pushing off in the pursuit of being my own boss, creating work that I believe in and moving toward a path of personal and professional gain. The need, want and effort for achievement in my career has been determined by me. I want success and I have inflicted the pain and aches of achieving it upon myself. It is the difference between knowing what we want and what we must do in order to obtain it.
Enduring the Sting of Sacrifice
At the beginning, you will give up more than you gain. For anyone looking to achieve a life of their choosing, sacrifices will have to be made during this time of growth and accomplishment. There will be decisions made that may result in letting go of things you have become accustomed to. You may have to ditch your thriving social life for more nights at home in order to grow your savings account. You may need to reimagine what the weekend looks like and start working a full 7 days to turn your side gig into something that can fully sustain your life. You may give up a better apartment, car, or gym for something that is less expensive because ideas take money. Even when we want to pretend they don’t, it’s best to start saving now for the long haul of seeing your plan in motion.
In achieving any level of tangible success, you will have to sacrifice time, money, relationships and personal wants in order to put your intentions at the forefront of the conversation. If you are bound for success, you must endure the sting of sacrifice.
The Ups and Downs of Your Inner + Outer Self
Who you are will change, shift and be reimagined during the path to success. In fact, at this point in the trajectory of your goals, keeping your physical and mental health intact is at the top of your to-do list. When our bodies and brains start to unravel, so do our paths to success. It is important that during this time, you place yourself first. If you spend long nights working on your media kit, make sure you are eating healthy and hydrating throughout the day. If you are rushing from one investor meeting to another, always pack fuel (protein bars, fruit, juice) to maintain your energy levels without giving into the pressures of fast, cheap food. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good slice of pizza, but easy access meals can only lead to tiredness and lethargic behavior. Proper eating choices leads to energy which leads to translating your plans into actions!
In addition to maintaining your physical well being, your mental health and stability must be at the forefront of your priorities. In the spirit of being candid and honest, I am someone who has dealt with small amounts of mental unrest for many years. With a tendency to overthink things (especially those with negative results) and an anxious pattern of thought toward the unexpected, I place what could be considered unimaginable pressure on myself to achieve. If these goals and pursuits have not been fruitful with my efforts, I have the issue of viewing myself as unsuccessful or a failure. Such a mindset that I have to work with every day to push past what I consider to be depressive tendencies. Once I began to realize that my mental health was holding me back and killing my motivation, I knew I needed to make a change in order to stay on this path toward my intended career.
To maintain a good head space and believe in your abilities I recommend a few tasks to open up yourself to more positive thinking and doing.
You Will Lose (People, Money and Your Sanity)
“The woman you are becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces and material things. Choose her over everything..”
I recently came across this quote via Instagram, and it really resonated with the process and struggle that I have been enduring during these past months. It gave no attribution as to who said this, but to the owner of this quote — you have perfectly put into words what happens when you choose to chase your dreams.
To be completely upfront, people will leave you during this point of your path. You will have family members, friends, and romantic partners decide that they no longer want to be in your life. This may come from a variety of reasons including:
None of these reasons are bad, in fact they all point to the same conclusion: that you, no matter what or who you lose are striding forth toward what you want to accomplish. Even though losing people is tough and painful, what will be harder to swallow would be a life where you didn’t go after your dreams. To live a life of complacency just to please others is not a true life — it is falling short of the potential you have within you.
Depending on your career path and tools you need to invest in to pursue and reach it, money will have to be spent. Whether you have to use it to build a website, purchase advertising/marketing initiatives to expand your reach, place a downpayment on a prototype of your future product or spend it traveling to meet with key influencers in your industry — your bank account will take a hit in these start up stages. Knowing this, as mentioned above, you have to be able to save for useful spending. I’m not talking, “I really need the new iPhone or computer or camera to make my business better” type of spending. No, I mean the, “I use all of my already accessible resources to their full advantage, my savings are for basic survival (rent and food) and only the tools that are completely neccessary to build my idea” kind of spending. Start putting away now for the long run; cook dinner tonight instead of going out, take public transportation instead of a ride sharing app to get to work, and make coffee at home rather than dropping $5 on your complicated Starbucks order. You’ll thank me later.
You Will Want to Give Up
This is a given and you may have already done this already. You will probably give up every single day — I usually do around 4 p.m. I believe the hours between 3–5 are the absolute worst of the day, probably because that is when my productivity and energy feels the lowest. Some days I will take a quick nap to recharge or brew a cup of coffee and sit with some kind of entertainment for a mental rest — but most days I feel defeated anyways. So, how do I get over this 4 p.m. blues and push on with the rest of my day?
Look at your outline and plan as a video game with levels to master and achieve before progressing to the next. We all start at level 1 — there is really no where to go but up. Yet, this idea of levels should remind you that laziness or lack of motivation will result in starting back at the beginning. You could reach level 20 and feel on top of the world, but if you give up — this game starts over again, back at level 1.
Remember those goals I mentioned you should write? About 6 of mine are “don’t give up.” Because I can say I want to be this or do that, but nothing can ever truly happen if I decide to let my dreams die.
The Wound Will Heal
Even with all these things that will happen and roadblocks that will pop up along the way, you will eventually thrive. Because success, although not an easy task, is achievable to those who yearn, want and do everything humanely possible to obtain it. Remember, this is a choice that you have placed up yourself. You are inflicting pressure, stress and discomfort on your physical and mental well being, your bank account and your personal relationships. Yet, with knowing that such battles will exist, remain steadfast in the journey to achieving your dreams. It may seem rather cliché, but believe that the struggle will be just as rewarding as the outcome.
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