What does that mean?
Dreading the Inevitable
Boy, do I remember those days. Streeeeettttttccccchhhhhhing out Sunday night for as long as I could, turning it into a time machine that would stave off Monday because I loathed my job, and I loathed my captivity to it. It was a paycheck, and nothing more. There was one critical and major element missing from it: fulfillment. Sure, I had a job, but it was 40-hours of nothing more than a means to an end.
I needed more than that.
Have you been there? Sunday nights laying on the couch and wishing that you could hold back time, like Atlas holding back the world, fending off the inevitable?
Since 2003, I’d been in business for myself, with a slow ramp up, building, building, building. Putting pieces together, laying the groundwork, hatching plans for world business domination that would eventually see fruition in 2007 as a full-time business. Between 2003 and 2007, however, yours truly served at no less than 14 different jobs. In fact, “served” suggests so much the notion that I was faithfully and loyally discharging my duties there, when in fact I couldn’t wait for 5pm each day to bolt out the door faster than water down a greased window. And I’m pretty sure my employers knew it.
Even now, after 17 years in business, I still look back and thank God how fortunate I am to be where I am today, because I remember where I was, and I remember the anguish of working in an 8 to 5 that I absolutely despised. I was not wired for the daily grind. I was wired for entrepreneurship. I was not made to enable someone else’s dream. I was made to realize my own.
So what’s the deal? What’s with the phrase “find what you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Is that even possible, attainable….or likely?
Here’s whatcha do
Dreams don’t come true overnight, many of them. With the transition from a full time job to the dream of self-employment, and particularly full-time self-employment in voiceovers, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It certainly requires water and sustenance along the way. And to do that, you have to buck up, tighten your belt, stick out your chest and weather the storm of your current job…especially if, in the words of the Old Testament folks, “yea verily, it sucketh, my liege.”
There are many things that you can do to stay thriving at your current job, until such a time as you can bounce off that launching pad and into your dream! Here’s a little focus list for you, "four on the floor" as it were, to keep you grounded and thinking logically in prep for your own O Happy Day:
- A perspective steeped in reality will carry you through. Realize that “this too shall pass.” There’s a great consolation, nay, assurance, in knowing that this is all temporary. Nothing lasts forever, not even Betty White or Tardigrades. Ultimately, your focus does determine your reality, and you will be able to leave that place. The reality of it all is that seemingly only yesterday you were just starting that job. Look where you are now. It’s been a while! Life takes all kinds of twists and turns, and there are different chapters for different stages of our lives. Your greatest chapter is coming up, and is still yet to be written. Focus on that. Focus with every fiber of your being. It will determine your reality if you consistently focus on it. Additionally, the painful reality is that you need the resources that your current employer is providing. A healthy perspective might be to look at those resources as enabling your future, not inhibiting it.
- A perspective steeped in determination will carry you through. The only way out is through. The great philosopher Alanis Morissette said it best. Maybe even better than Hunter S. Thompson said it. Having left the 9 to 5 workforce, you may in fact arrive at your destination of self-employment in a charred and blackened smoldering heap of what was once you…smoking and in ruins. You may barely make it out of employment by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin. It may cost you everything you have, and it might even be excruciating at the end. But the only way to get to self-employment, is through your current situation, even if that means going through a bitter exit at the end….or a layoff…or a termination. When my hours were cut back from my drywall job in 2007, I made the choice to go full time into my multimedia company that I’d started in 2003. I was doing it part-time…I saw an opening and I saw opportunity to launch off my own sinking ship of employment onto the dock of my new world: self-employment and the fulfillment of my own dreams. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I parted only halfway decently with my former boss. But my smoldering heap cooled off, and the blackened shell healed.
- A perspective steeped in optimism will carry you through. Remember this awesome tale of the two sons?
There were twin boys of five or six. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities – one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist – their parents took them to a psychiatrist.
First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. 'What's the matter?' the psychiatrist asked, baffled. 'Don't you want to play with any of the toys?' 'Yes,' the little boy bawled, 'but if I did I'd only break them.'
Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. 'What do you think you're doing?' the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. 'With all this manure,' the little boy replied, beaming, 'there must be a pony in here somewhere!'
Come Christmas time, both were promised gifts, and they were so excited about them. Visions of sugar plums, yadda yadda yadda. They both woke up Christmas morning, and went into the front room. The one child, a worrywart, was presented with the toy train set he wanted so desperately…it was made of fine metal and glass, and everything was manufactured with painstakingly meticulous detail. He burst into tears. His parents asked him, “Tommy, what’s wrong?” Tommy responded, “I just know I’m going to break it one day.” The other child, Timmy, the eternal optimist, happened upon his present: a giant steaming mound of fecal matter 6 feet high. His eyes widened and a massive grin nearly split him at the ears. He dove headfirst into the excrement and swam around, whooping and hollering and shouting with joy. His parents shouted back to him “Timmy, why are you so excited???” Timmy replied, “because with all this poo, I just know there’s a pony in here somewhere!”
My advice to you is: even in your current poo, look for the ponies.
- A perspective steeped in planning will carry you through. We've all heard it said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Don’t think for one second that my reduction in hours at work was followed by my panicking and crying out “Oh no! I must start formulating a plan now that I’m in an emergency situation!” No. I started my company in 2003. I grew it and it was pulsating and radiating and attracting positive energy towards it all along. I only needed the catalyst to jump headlong into it finally, and that was because I had planned all along that one day it would sustain me, rather than someone else's employ. There’s no harm in running two parallel tracks at the same time. Once one train has reached its terminus, that other track has already been laid and is up and running. A little gumption…a running start, and you’re airborne over to the other side. Hop on board the self-employment express.
My cold dead hands
"Come and get them." That's what Leonidas and the brave 300 told the marching band of Persians. God help the poor soul who tries to pry my dreams from me. God help him, because I won’t. You take one part cat-hiss, mix it with a little fingernails-on-chalkboard squeak, add in a dash of Nazgul scream, and you’re there. That’s the sound that you’ll hear, while everything lights up white around the conflict zone, and a mushroom cloud rises towards the heavens. I emerge unscathed of course, and that smoking mound of rubble left behind is the poor chump who said that I had to go back and slave away for someone else’s dream. It looks kinda like this.
It’s my own thing, and I am SO grateful for my own thing. I rise or fall on my own merits, not a paycheck. My efforts pay our mortgage every month; my timecard doesn't. Food is put on our table because of my chasing my own dream, not someone else’s. I’m dependent on me, not him…or her…or them. An employer can cut me loose anytime…release me…lay me off…fire me. In such a situation I am robbed even of the right to appeal. The employer has all the power, and I have none.
You couldn’t pry self-employment from my cold dead hands even though my last breath had escaped me. I would clutch it with hands that had fermented into iron. It is the answer, period. I’ll have it written on my tombstone: “I did it my way” in honor of Elvis. God has bequeathed to my wife and family and I some immeasurable gifts and privileges by virtue of me pursuing my own visions and goals in business that I otherwise would never have been able to attain. Do I miss the guaranteed paycheck? Not really. I do miss some guarantees, but that's true of any entrepreneurship: they're all fraught with risk and loaded with danger. Choosing to be the captain of the ship carries a lot more risk than just being content with being a deckhand. I'd rather be the Captain and take the risk.
And the same is true, and possible, and – here is where you have to claim this for yourself – likely for you as well. It’s just a matter of time. Maybe a week? A month? By the end of the year? It will happen.
Start planning. Be optimistic. Be realistic. Keep your determination.
So…what does "TGIM" mean, anyway? Simple. Thank God it’s Monday. There was a time where I said the exact opposite. No more. I cannot WAIT for Monday to begin, for the cycle to reset anew, for 5 more days full of opportunities to do something that utterly fulfills me and that allows me to, while utterly fulfilled, provide for my family. I am so, so, so very thankful. Now. That being said, does self-employment have stress too? Indeed it does. Everything in life has stress. As Wesley said to Buttercup, "Life IS pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." (One of my favorite all time quotes.)
Bring on them Mondays, because I finally found what I love to do, and I never actually work a day in my life. God bless you, self-employment, and God bless you, voiceovers. And hey! God bless you, Monday. I'm actually sad on Friday at 5pm, because it's all over. But hallelujah - Monday cometh.
Here are a few great articles on the sheer awesomeness of being self-employed, to motivate you and drive you onward.
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