I know you feel it, too.
That excitement you feel every time you start painting a new piece?
When you crack open a can of paint, pick up a brush and start in.
Your mind wanders and you start thinking about how great it would feel to do this as a full-time job.
You’ve never thought of yourself as a creative person. But there’s something about doing this that awakens something in you.
But you immediately push the thought of doing it as a job down. It’s not practical, this is a hobby, not a job.
Maybe you’re afraid...
Your friends and family love the work that you do. Maybe they even want you to do pieces for them. But what would they say if you said you wanted to pursue it as a living?
What are you afraid of?
Afraid that maybe you’re wrong about yourself? That you aren’t creative after all?
That you’ll fail? That you’ll look foolish in front of your friends and family?
Maybe it’s just a foolish dream.
So, you go back to your safe little job and on the weekends, you paint and experience that feeling all over again. At night, you scour the internet for inspiration and when the next day comes, you get up and drag yourself to your ‘real job’ again.
We all think like that, don’t we?
But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
The suffocation of you
We know what makes our heart and soul sing and for a moment we think how obvious it is. It's uncomplicated and it just makes sense. I need to do that.
Then in an instant it’s gone.
Gone in a swirl of complicated thoughts.
How will I pay my bills? What about health insurance? What about the uncertainty of not having a regular paycheck? I’ll end up losing the house, my family will be living on the street because I was selfish enough to think that I could do something I enjoyed. Something I felt passionate about. What would my sensible parents think?
I know exactly how you feel.
For most of my career I worked in offices. Drab, putty colored offices. I didn’t hate my job but I wasn’t passionate about it. My last 10 years in corporate I was making six figures, but I went home every day exhausted and depressed. The weekends were spent in my head, dreaming of a way to get out and feel alive.
I started painting furniture.
The weekend would come and it freed my mind. I was creative. I was a kid again with a page from a coloring book and a big box of Crayola’s.
Paul and I would go on treasure hunting trips to find great furniture that would become the blank pages of our coloring book.
Then Monday would come and we would be back at our respective offices and we’d spend all week emailing each other pictures and ideas.
And we’d wait for next weekend.
Most people aren’t passionate about their job, right? It’s a means to an end.
After all, isn’t that why we have hobbies?
Most people don’t do something for a living that feeds their soul. Instead they do something for a living that sucks the soul out of them.
And at the end of the day, you wonder what you’re doing here. Why you were put on this earth to just live for nights, weekends and vacations.
Being forced to let go
The Monday after Thanksgiving in 2013, I was called into my boss’s office. He told me that layoffs would be coming. He told me that I would be losing my job.
I couldn’t breathe. I could feel my neck and ears get warm and I knew I might cry.
He said it wouldn’t happen for a couple of months and I was free to interview for other jobs in the company. It was all I could do to say “OK” and get the hell out of there.
I wasn’t the only one who received that news. I heard so many of my colleagues in the same position say that they would like to start their own business but they didn’t know where to begin.
But I had already begun.
The day finally came when I was again called into my boss’s office to be formally let go.
By then I had a plan.
For the first time in my life I’d fly without a corporate net.
Finding the courage to believe in yourself
The decision wasn’t that easy, though.
This would be the first time that I was not getting a regular paycheck. A severance package would only get me so far.
You know how people say that if you do what you are passionate about everything will be ok?
I cut every expense I had, worked day and night, blew through my severance package and was living off my 401k.
It wasn’t easy.
But during those months, I found myself learning all that I could about furniture finishes, business, and marketing.
Paul finally left his job a year after my layoff and we were both on our own. We had a small retail store and monthly expenses…and it was frightening.
But we learned.
We learned from everyone and everything.
We built our custom painting business and our furniture was selling well. We started stocking complementary products and the first one we chose was Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan which opened the door to a whole new arm of the business – teaching. We held weekly painting workshops and we gave personal attention to every customer who came in the store.
And we realized something. We were exactly where we were supposed to be.
And the business began to grow.
Am I suggesting that you quit your day job and start painting furniture for a living?
No. Not yet, anyway.
What I’m suggesting is that you believe in yourself and believe that this is something that you CAN do and if it makes you happy, and feeds your soul. You should do it.
But lose your rose-colored glasses. It isn’t as easy as just painting furniture.
You need to start seeing yourself not just as a creative person but as a business person, too. Whether you work alone or with a partner, you need to know how to do it all. You need to teach yourself.
Not ‘someday’. Not ‘when I retire’. Not ‘next year.’
You need to start now. No more excuses.
It takes time to develop and hone your craft and it takes time to become a strategic business thinker and it takes time to become a great marketer.
If I had waited until I was laid off, it would’ve been too late.
Make a commitment to yourself
Make today the first day.
And don’t give up.
Write it down.
Today my business starts.
Today you start taking yourself and your passion seriously. Today you commit to stop doing what sucks the life out of you and instead begin building something that will make you feel alive.
And to hell with anything that gets in your way.