I decided to write this blog post earlier this month. Actually, I didn’t “decide.” I “knew.”
And ever since I “knew,” I have come up with plenty of delays, excuses and reasons why it wasn’t exactly the right time to write it.
Then I finally wrote it last week but didn’t post it.
I tweeted about it but sat on it and did nothing:
allisonnazarian I just wrote a blog post that is 8 years in the making. I’m letting it marinate overnight bc it scares me that much. Oy.
People were psyched for me.
But I didn’t post it.
I chickened out. And it was written. Like six-pages-in-a-Word-document written.
But I had excuses.
I showed the document to a few friends. My usual suspects. Most said “Go for it!” One, who looks out for me in a way only rivaled by my dearly departed grandmother, told me it could be “career suicide.” And he could be right. And I love him regardless. (You know who you are, JH.)
But, alas, the excuses stuff is for someone else or for a life I used to have…and you know my thoughts on truth and transparency…all of which is really kind of inconvenient when what you’d rather do is pretend.
So…. I have a story for you. Or an admission. Or multiple admissions. This may take a while.
I guess the story starts in 2001. That’s when I officially started my business Get It In Writing. I spent a few years trying to figure out what my business was and what business in general was.
And at some point, like any entrepreneur who starts to figure things out, I began to run my business like a business.
And over time, I got really good. Good at what I was doing (copywriting/marketing) and good at running a business — from learning how to say no and how to network and how to treat clients and manage expenses and what bookkeeper to hire….and so on.
And I loved what I did. On every imaginable level.
I laughed when people told me I worked “too much.” But I loved it! How could it be too much? And I got to help people make their businesses more successful. And that’s how I was able to make some small difference in the lives of others….right?
Fast forward a few years….
I had a business. A real business! And I made money. Real money! Like the six figures SO many people out there (especially in the Internet Marketing world) claim to make.
And this business was all mine. It wasn’t my parents’, or my then-husband’s or a boss’s. It was mine. I had built it from nothing. And every client who worked with me was there for me. And every connection I made was made on my name.
For me, those things were very, very important. And they still are. And did I mention I was good at what I did? Real good.
Then at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I made some decisions in my life that rocked my foundation to its core (all good).
And when everything changes, at least when it does for me, I can’t go back. I can’t do what I did before everything changed.
So as all of this was going on, I attempted to keep my “business as usual” hat on in business. And I had built up enough know-how and goodwill to keep it going at a step or two above “business as usual.”
And for many people, “business as usual” would likely be more than enough.
But for better or for worse, I am not “many people,” so a step or two above business as usual wasn’t cutting it for me.
And I knew it.
But I didn’t do much about it.
Because what could I really do?
I knew I would “get to it,” but I had other stuff going on.
So I ignored.
But then came Vegas.
In June, I went to Vegas for my birthday with my dear friend Amy Holding. Our trip coincided with a “Monster Tweetup” sponsored by another friend, Scott Stratten.
The night before the Tweetup (basically a get-together/networking event/party attended mostly by people who connected with one another initially through twitter), Scott was kind enough to gather together 15 or so of his friends for a private dinner. (That dinner on its own deserves a separate blog post. Or even a book. IT CHANGED LIVES.)
At this dinner, I was lucky (no coincidences) to sit next to an amazing woman by the name of Kim Castle.
Kim and I chatted, and while I don’t remember everything we discussed (I do remember she was suffering from a raging headache), I recall and still feel her amazing positive energy and true openness.
When we got around to the “what do you do” part of the question, I told her I was a copywriter.
In a “ho-hum” kind of way.
And that must have seemed weird because I am SO not a “ho-hum” kind of chick.
She looked me right in the eye and told me (not a direct quote), “It doesn’t sound like that’s what you really want to do. You don’t sound happy about it.”
Wow…I felt like someone had slapped me in the face.
Not because she was out of line or wrong.
In fact, she was the first to finally articulate what I had been too afraid to admit (or even to see) for the past few months. And this was someone who had met me an hour or two before, no less.
Yikes. This was like the last thing I wanted to face or think about. I was in Vegas! I was there to have fun. It was my birthday. I was newly single. Life was new and open and exciting for me.
The very thought that the very thing (my business) that had been such a positive constant in my life could now be something that was no longer right for me was something I literally, in that weekend, could not wrap my mind around.
So I shelved it.
Because really what else could I do?
I wasn’t ready.
And how many life-changing, cliff-jumping decisions can one girl make at the same time?!
So since June, I’ve literally been “business as usual” in my business.
Except I knew something had to give.
I just didn’t know what.
Because I am SO proud of my business. And SO grateful for it. It isn’t a job or a paycheck. It is an extension of me (entrepreneurs and self-employed people, you know what I mean).
It empowered me and, in a way, bought me my freedom so I could never kick it to the curb.
So I have been dabbling.
Dabbling in the things I actually love to do. Like writing this blog and for other blogs. That’s the stuff that moves me. Baring my soul. Like connecting with very real and very amazing people who email and direct message and tweet me that I have “spoken” to them.
And I escape into the bliss that is writing in my real voice.
And then I have to return to my “real” work. Because that’s what pays me.
All the while knowing I can’t really dabble in something I love and focus most of your energy on something I like and then call that being real.
Because dabbling is great for pottery or needlepoint. But it sure as sh*t ain’t an approach to living. Not my life.
And once I admitted this to myself, I felt equal parts of relief and dread.
Relief because pretending sucks, even if the pretending is only to yourself.
Relief because I knew I was freeing myself up for what I really wanted.
Relief because if I didn’t create space for what I needed, then I would get swallowed up by the dabbling.
And dread….well dread because I knew what was coming.
Dread because whenever I realize stuff, I have to go big.
Dread because going big can be a real pain in the butt.
Dread because I have this burning need to tell everyone and his/her mother what my big Aha! was and what I’m-a-gonna-do about it.
Dread because if you aren’t living your truth you are, to some extent, a fraud. (Sorry for the harsh word, I’m just the messenger….)
Dread because I knew I couldn’t be a fraud for one more minute.
And dread because I knew I was going to jump off yet another cliff. And in this case, that cliff would be the cliff called: “Giving up, turning away and saying ‘NO’ to the only work that is currently paying you so that you can make room for the work you really want and love even if that work isn’t currently paying you a dime.” (You may want to re-read that one.)
Fast forward to this week when I blurted out to my coach Monikah Ogando that I could not live congruently with who I am if I continue to take on work that I don’t love and live for only because it pays the bills (did I mention I am newly single with no income/financial support beyond my own income? Yea…..).
That I needed to board up that back door for good.
What does that mean literally?
It means that I am going to focus on teaching people how to write their copy through books (check out my brand-new book One Minute Copywriter — it’s really good) and coaching one-on-one and in group settings.
It means that I am no longer going to work as a copywriter-for-hire for clients/businesses looking to outsource their copywriting. In other words, I will not be taking most copywriting jobs that are offered to me. I will pick and choose what I want to work on. (Yes, that is the scary part.) I will be referring all of this work to other copywriters, which is something I definitely enjoy doing!
I will teach people how to write copy for their businesses and, on a more personal level, how to access their own voice and truth to write their stories. I will also work within a university setting, teaching students much of these business writing and personal writing principles.
It means I am publicly declaring that I want to focus as well on my own writing. On being paid to write for mine or other publications. On a column. On syndicated content. On venues and media through which I can connect with people on a very real level by showing them it’s OK to be real and to stop pretending and stop hiding and start living. Really living. In a flawed and messy and still-perfect way.
I am going to be paid to do that. I don’t know the “how” – I just know that it is on its way to me.
I will write books. Lots of them.
So…to sum up:
I am closing the door on the only thing that has made me money (and good money at that!) over the past eight or so years. I am publicly declaring what I plan to do while having no obvious means of making money from said pursuits at this exact moment. Oh and I have a house and a mortgage and a car and two kids and no second paycheck and….and….and….yea, you get it.
Dabbling sucks. And dabbling is playing small. So I’m playing big. Which can be big scary too. But in the words of my “mad honest” friend Tony: “continuing on our journey and not doing what we’re passionate about or feel is our true calling is, is even worse. It’s a slow meaningless death.”
***Thank you for reading this far. Thank you, as well, to my friends who read this before (and this includes YOU Elizabeth, Tom, Monikah, Jeffrey & Tony) for not laughing in my face (yet). And if even one of you reading this plays a little bigger because of something I said, then THANK YOU too!