On March 20, 2012–exactly five years ago today–I walked away from my $70,000-a-year day job to take my writing and story coaching business full time. I’ve always been entrepreneurial; I had lemonade stands, provided services like tutoring and chores, and even had a handmade crafts business when I was a kid.
But this was the first time I was fully depending on myself to make money to pay bills and live.
It has been a long, strange journey for these five years (and the five years prior when I was doing what I do now as a side hustle). I’ve learned a ton. I’ve grown a ton. I’ve created a ton.
And if I had the chance to have a conversation with my 2012-self, back when I was first starting my full-time entrepreneur journey, here’s what I would say:
1. Work On Your Mindset Every. Single. Day. Period.
Mindset is the #1 thing that has absolutely totally 100% changed EVERYTHING for me. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken control of my mindset for good in 2015.
I had so many limiting beliefs and negative ways of thinking going on in my life, mostly subconsciously. Starting a daily mindset practice and keeping it up over the long-haul has allowed me to shift from being a procrastinating writer to being the author of 10+ books with a growing readership and a thriving business doing work I love.
Your practice doesn’t have to be fancy or take too long, it just has to help you set your focus for the day (and for your life) so you can set you up for success and positive ways of thinking and being. Some possible things to incorporate into your practice:
- Writing your reality
- Repeating affirmations
Takeaway Tip: create a daily mindset practice that incorporates things that make you feel really good.
2. Do What Matters, Daily
For such a long time I put off what really mattered to me, thinking that everything else around me was more important. I was raised to keep the house clean and take care of laundry and dishes and all that stuff, and so I had to train myself to stop seeing that stuff as important and to put it off so that I could put what really matters first–writing, creating, teaching, growing.
Don’t get me wrong, that stuff still gets done. Eventually.
But I no longer put any household chores ahead of my writing or anything else that actually matters to me.
I know my priorities and do them daily. Before I let the world in.
Takeaway Tip: figure out what matters most to you and what actually moves the needle in your writing life and commit to doing those things daily.
3. Build Habits and Discipline Around Doing What Matters
The only way to make sure you actually do what matters every day is to build habits around them and be disciplined enough to stick with it. The truth is so many writers have really bad habits and very little discipline. And this the reason why procrastination and self-doubt are running rampant in the writing world.
When you create habits around doing what matters, it actually becomes a hell of a lot easier.
It’s not having a habit of doing your writing every day that makes you feel doubtful and uncreative and stuck. Because when you only do something once in a while, it’s harder to get into the flow.
But when you have a habit of doing it daily, then it’s just flow, baby, flow.
Takeaway Tip: figure out what matters most to you and what actually moves the need in your writing life and then build habits around doing these things every single day.
4. Put First Things First, Always
Along with doing what matters is making sure to do these things first, BEFORE you do anything else, every day. Putting first things first ensures you’ll always get what matters done, even if other stuff (like dishes and laundry) doesn’t.
If I had been doing what I’m doing now back then, putting first things first and doing what matters every day, I’d be even further along than I currently am.
Takeaway Tip: put what matters to you (see takeaway tip #2 and #3) first and get it done first, before you let the world in or do anything else.
5. Take Care of Your Body and Yourself
This is something that I’m just now taking to heart… but I wish I had taken it to heart five years ago when I was taking my writing and coaching business full time. As an authorpreneur, your energy matters. Because it affects everything else.
If you’re not eating right and making daily fitness a priority, you won’t have the energy to do all of the things you need to do and you’ll let yourself off the hook a lot more often when you’re tired or don’t feel like doing your work. And your creative juices will be junky because you’re feeding junk to your body and mind.
But by taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to get up every day feeling energized and motivated and you’ll actually be productive all day.
For a long time I felt exhausted all day long and would have to nap to make it through the day. Now I’m energized and feeling good in my body, which is something I haven’t felt in a while.
Takeaway Tip: pay attention to the food you eat and how often you move your body; it matters.
6. Put (and Keep) Your Focus On Where You Want to Go
When you work for yourself, it’s so easy to get distracted by ‘shiny object syndrome’ and to keep thinking you need another program or another course or another coach. But really, you just need to stay focused on where you want to go and keep doing what matters every day, first things first.
Yes, coaches and programs and courses are very useful for when you’re starting out and still have things to learn. But after enough coaches, programs and courses, you know enough and you just have to trust that now you have to actually implement and take action and use what you’ve learned.
Which is why you have to stay focused on where you want to go. Otherwise you’ll get pulled from your path every time a new course, workshop or coach creates something that sounds interesting to you.
Stay focused. Get help when you really need it. But mostly just do what matters every day, first things first, consistently.
Takeaway Tip: focus your mind DAILY on where you want to go in your writing life.
7. Make Friends with Uncertainty
A big part of why most people who want to be full-time writers never do starts with a U… uncertainty. Because the life of being a full-time authorpreneur comes with a side of uncertainty.
Sure, you can plan and make projections and estimations, but everything is still a best guess.
And that’s why most writers won’t make the leap. Because not always knowing where your next dollar will come from is scary.
But it can also be freeing and it can open you up to unlimited possibilities. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, anything is possible.
And possibilities are the reason to become a full-time authorpreneur to begin with.
So make friends with uncertainty. Learn how to be OK with it. Learn to ride the wave of the beautiful, uncertain life of the authorpreneur.
And a big part of making friends with uncertainty comes from having a specific vision you’re focused on and a mindset practice that you do daily. When you’re mind is in the game, the uncertainty is easier to deal with.
Takeaway Tip: keep doing your daily mindset practice and keep taking action, it’s the only way to learn how to be OK with uncertainty.
8. Trust Your Intuition
So much of entrepreneurship is strategy and execution, but the part that really matters is your intuition. It’s your gut feel that will get you where you want to go in your writing life.
Yes, have strategy and guidelines, but use your intuition as a compass for how to execute.
Everything that I create in my writing business, from my books to my workshops to my digital products, come as intuitive downloads that drop into my mind like I’m being struck my lightening. I’ll just be sitting there and then the next thing I know…BOOM! An idea hits me for a workshop to create or a book I need to write.
And one thing I’ve committed to as a value in my business is always acting on Divine Downloads (that’s what I call the intuitive ideas that I get).
So whenever a download comes to me, I write it down. Sometimes I act on it right away. Other times it’s a piece of something that I know needs more marination time, so I’ll let it sit for a bit and see what else comes through.
Intuitive feel and guidance are a huge part of the creative process and of being successful as an authorpreneur.
That’s something I wish I had learned sooner in my journey. And especially I wish I’d learned earlier how to tap into my inner guidance so that I could pull out all these ideas whenever I need them.
Now that I’m tuned in (thanks to my daily mindset practice), I never worry about not knowing what to write or create, because I not only have backlogs of ideas and new ideas coming to me daily, but I know how to tap into my inner guidance to pull out an idea at the drop of a hat.
That is something I am truly grateful to have finally learned.
Takeaway Tip: spend a few minutes a day tuning into your inner world; get acquainted with it; and trust that intuitive voice that’s trying to guide you on your journey.
9. Never, Ever Under Any Circumstances Look Around and Say “This Isn’t Working”
I’ve been in the online writing world for more than a decade and I’ve been coaching writers for more than half of that time. I’ve seen it all. And I see it all. Every day.
I see the writers who are all talk and no action. I see the writers who are actually showing up and doing the work. I see the writers who are complaining that things aren’t working and making every excuse in the world for why they don’t have the results they want yet.
I’ve seen it all and I see it all.
I’ve been there. Many, many times over the years. I’ve looked around me and said, “it’s not working.” And in my physical reality at the time, it wasn’t working.
But it also WAS working. I just wasn’t allowing myself to see that part because I was too busy focusing on the stuff that wasn’t working.
And if there’s any piece of advice I’d give my 2012-self, it would be to never look around and say “it’s not working.” For a few reasons:
- It is what you say it is–your mind decides what is and how it will perceive and interpret things, and you get to choose your beliefs and thoughts. So why would you choose to make declarations and have thoughts that say “it’s not working?” Your life and your reality will always be a product of what you say and think and believe. Your thoughts and beliefs are the cause and your physical reality is the effect.
- What you focus on expands–we talked about focus once already, but focus matters because it expands. So if you focus on “it’s not working,” guess what’s going to expand for you? That it’s not working! And then all you’ll be able to see are the ways it’s not working. So you must focus on what IS working by collecting evidence of all the ways and signs that say it IS working.
- What you accept as true will be–if you’ve got beliefs that say you’re not good enough, worthy enough, that you can’t do this, that it works for other people but it won’t work for you… this is what will show up in your reality. Because once your mind accepts something as true, it will attract to your life things that match those accepted beliefs and ways of thinking. Change what you accept as true for you and change your whole life.
Takeaway Tip: never say “it’s not working”… instead, look for evidence that says it is working, keep track of the evidence in your journal so you can always refer back to it whenever you start to feel the “it’s not working” voices creeping in.
As you can probably see from the advice I’d give my 2012-self, a lot of what makes a difference in creating success relates to MINDSET. Amazing, isn’t it?
So today, on my five-year Quitiversary, I say to you the things I wish I could say to my 2012-self.
I hope you’ll read this post several times and really take to heart what I’ve said here. It could cut YEARS off your journey and help you achieve the success you want in your writing life a whole lot faster.
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What’s the #1 thing you’re taking away from this list? Share in the comments.
6 Replies to “9 Things I’d Tell Myself in 2012”
my take away is 8 and 9. This post is exactly what I needed for today. The getting that mindset to stick is a tough one. I have come to realize I undervalue my intuition and ignore evidence. As of today, I am giving over part of my day to cultivate, appreciate, listen to and act my intuition and I am collecting/tracking the evidence. Harder work than outlining and writing the e-book, for sure!!
@MJ Yes, much harder. But WORTH IT! And it gets easier the more you do it, so eventually it’s just second nature to always listen to and trust your gut.
I’m so stuck on where to start. I majored in Philosophy and I’ve been a certified Project Manager (PMP) for literally years. I’m 36 now and I’ve always been a skilled writer when it came to punctuation and grammar. My wife told me I need to write. That it would make me happy and I would be good at it. I just don’t know where to start or what to even talk about. I’m definitely following your daily writings though and they totally make sense.
@Stephen Start by writing what you know. That’s always a place ripe with potential and possibility. And then try different things, to see which kind of writing inspires you most. Also, if you’re really good at punctuation and grammar, you could possibly offer Beta Reader or copyediting services where you read a manuscript and give line edits (of the grammar, punctuation, etc). If you’re not already a member, be sure to join my free Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/emergingauthorincubator
Although, I think #9 leaves out a circumstance where we should say “this isn’t working”: when we’re aware that a *part* of the plan isn’t. Keeping faith in the overall goal shouldn’t mean we can’t learn, adapt, and zigzag our way forward. It’s the principle of “fail early” and “quitting sets you free”– as long as we hold on to the difference between giving up on a part of the plan and giving up on the whole. (And, if we watch for the temptation to let doubt or perfectionism make us change tactics too often and lose momentum.)
@Ken Yes, good clarification. I was talking about saying, ‘this isn’t working’ about the overall goal. Obviously if the strategy or tactic isn’t working, then you absolutely must shift and make changes.