A New Vision
So a couple of months ago I encountered a blogger who gave me a vision of living the life of my dreams, a life in which I spend 95% of my time (egad, can I even say that?) doing things I actually want to do.
Sound crazy? Maybe so, but Chris Guillebeau is doing it, and reading his A Brief Guide to World Domination and 279 Days to Overnight Success introduced me to others (in a virtual way) who are doing it as well.
If they can do it, why not me?
Now the truth is, I’ve been making a living from my art, working from home, for almost all of my working life. You’d think I have it made!
However, not being a natural entrepreneur, and not having been aware of any role models to follow, I created the only kind of business I knew how, the only way I knew how, and the fact is that although yes, I make my living from my art, I spend a teeny, tiny fraction of my time actually creating art.
There’s something wrong with this picture.
Plus the fact that I work really, really hard, and seriously make barely enough to get by, after all is said and done.
Yes, I live in an expensive part of the world, so I’d probaby make more than enough to get by if I lived in Moab, Utah, but I want to make more than enough to get by wherever the hell I live!
And although artists are heavily programmed to feel that there’s something wrong with making money, I have finally decided once and for all to hell with that idea!
The Universe Lets Me Have It
So. Back to a couple of months ago. Money was tight. I mean, “I don’ t know how I’m going to pay the mortgage” tight. I was horribly stressed. The man I thought was my life partner decided he couldn’t deal with my stress and moved out, leaving me in even more desperate financial straits, and I found myself suddenly alone.
It felt like my world was falling down around me.
Ain’t that just the way the Universe deals the cards when it’s hella fed up with you not taking the Right Actions it’s been telling you to take all along, because you’ve been so stuck in following the same damn okay-but-not-really-working-the-way-you-want-but-not-bad-enough-to-bust-out path, even though it’s not what you really want, but you’re so damned STUCK that you can’t even imagine that there’s an outside of the box in order to think there?
When you’re that stuck, the Universe gives up on nudges and hints and whispers and just hits you over the head with a big ‘ol 2×4.
That would be me.
In other words, I was in a state of precarious preparedness to fall – to leap – off the ladder I’d built and climbed.
So when I stumbled upon Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Nonconformity blog (ironically enough, forwarded to me by the aforementioned ex-bf), and close on the heels of that I discovered Havi Brooks’ (and Selma the Duck’s) The Fluent Self, something inside me snapped.
Instead of wishing things were different (and feeling powerless to do anything about it), I committed to figuring out how to make them different. I committed to really going for the life I want.
This blog, of course, is part of what has (so far) come out of that commitment, so it’s an effect of that commitment. But it’s cause as well as effect: writing regularly (I aim for daily, but am working on being gentle with myself when it’s less than that, especially times like right now, when I’m on the road on a teaching gig with no laptop, iphone or [covetcovetcovet] ipad) has been a powerful tool in helping me to keep that commitment.
Because anyone who’s ever tried to do something different, something unconventional, something creative, knows how damned hard it can be to stick with it through the throes of daily life in a world that is largely hostile to the different, unconventional and creative.
Seeking and Investing in Outside Help
One of the things I’ve decided, as part of my commitment to really go after the life I want, is to find as many good teachers and models as I can, and invest in myself with my time, and where it feels appropriate, also with my money. This thing is really important to me, and investing in me and it only makes sense.
However, resources are scarce, and I have debt to pay down for the first time in my life, so making the decision to spend money on anything that isn’t absolutely necessary for daily living is hard. I feel guilty. I feel wasteful.
Ah, don’t you love those voices?
I’ve also made decisions in the past to invest money on things – things for my business – that I was sure would pay me back… and didn’t. Bad decisions, I see now, but they seemed like good ideas at the time. And in fact, the only way to know for sure was to try them. So now, every time I even think of investing in myself – especially on something that is somewhat abstract and hard to measure in terms of ROI – it scares the bejeezus out of me.
But, having said that, I also have to confess that when I look back at my past “bad” money decisions, pretty much every one of them was an investment in a business that I no longer want to run in the way it’s currently structured!! I am burned out being the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, and I want to spend my time doing the special things I’m really good at and love to do, not the things that half the planet could do (and many of them better than I!)
In other words, if I’m honest with myself, many, if not all of those previous investments were made in an attempt to outrun poverty, rather than in an attempt to create something I’m completely passionate about.
Not to get all “woo woo” on you, but I think the Universe knows this, and responds accordingly.
But getting back to where I started (and yes, this post does have a point). One of the investments I decided oh-so-scarily to make was in a class, a $100 Business Forum, an online group of kick-ass people (led by Chris Guillebeau and Pam Slim),who want to create independence through freelancing or a small business. I’ll be working with Chris and Pam, and 149 of my peers who will be creating their own projects. The Forum starts in May, and I’ll write about my experiences with it here. I’m excited and hopeful that, with 151 other people to help me refine my ideas, I will emerge from those 28 days with a clearer vision of my direction and some concrete steps to take to help get me there.
Meanwhile, Chris Guillebeau just yesterday launched a brand new addition to his Unconventional Guides, the Empire Building Kit. From the first announcement that it was in the works, I knew this was a kit I would want: 365 days of emails, videos, case studies, and all sorts of other goodies, to help me build my empire!
When it was finally released (for only 24 hours at first, with a second release down the road), I had to struggle with the “you can’t afford that” and “you should put that money toward your debt” and “don’t even think of making another stupid money mistake!” voices in my head. Being more expensive than the $100 Business Forum, the EBK was that much harder to justify. Especially because I wasn’t looking at the basic Emperor version – no – I wanted to get a peak into the inner workings of my blog superhero Chris’s business, and in order to get that I would have to spring for the top-of-the-line Alexander the Great version!
It scares me even to put it out in public that I spent so much money. But the fact is, everything I’ve read of Chris’s has been not just well-written, but incredibly well thought-out, impeccably organized and designed, and of immense value. Starting with his twice-weekly posts on his blog, and his free downloads. The man has earned my trust, and he’s a living model of the kind of empire I want to build, so I have high expectations that the EBK will do what it promises, and help me build my empire.
So far I’ve received two emails (one today and one yesterday) and have looked at a couple of the overview PDFs in the EBK. First reaction? Overwhelm! I’m immensely grateful to Chris for writing repeated reminders not to get overwhelmed. Reminders that Rome was not built in a day, and there are 364 days to go in a year of EBK materials and steps.
Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that when I discover a Bliss, something I’m passionate about, I dive in head-first. This is just who I am, and I’ve come to recognize it and embrace it. I’ve also come to recognize the urgency that goes along with my M.O: I desperately, desperately want to be good/successful at the thing, right now.
Of course, life just doesn’t work that way. Whether you’re talking about learning to dance, or do calligraphy, or sing jazz, or write well, or build an empire, it takes time, and lots and lots of baby steps, one after another.
This is precisely why I decided to gamble on the EBK. I know my M.O.; just last week I sank into a state of deep funk and overwhelm, feeling like I’d never succeed at building the kind of business and life that I want. Thankfully, I am aware enough to know that the overwhelm will work itself out if I just take things one step at a time. And when building an empire, having some guidance along the way is just a phenomenally great plan.
So here I go. I’m now officially building my empire. Whether it’s a massive success or a gigantic flop, or (worst to imagine of all) a pathetic fizzle, I commit to write about it here. I’m excited, I’m nervous, and hella scared.
Wish me luck.
Any other Empire Builders out there? Let’s talk! Tell me your story!