I’ve been passionate about writing for over twenty years. Four years ago, I decided to make something of that passion, so I started a daily writing habit. In my first two years, I made $1,100.
Truth is, I was a terrible writer.
But I hired coaches, educated myself, and improved each day. The hard work has finally paid off. In the last few months, I’ve made more money from my writing side-gig than my fulltime job.
Today, I enjoy the freedom, if I choose, to do what I love full time.
I credit my success to five beliefs that took me decades to learn and adopt. If you have patience and a willingness to accept new ideas, you can transform your passion from a hobby into a money-making enterprise.
1. The world doesn’t owe you anything
And even if it does, don’t count on it to pay up. The universe defaults on its debts so often, it wouldn’t even qualify as a subprime borrower.
Sure, it would be wonderful if the master accountant in the sky balanced the books every month. But that process has been broken for as long as I’ve been alive.
When you embark on a passion, you work hard. You feel like you deserve something for your efforts, but nothing comes. More hurdles block your path. They seem unfair, and you feel the urge to lash out. That’s when you start thinking the world owes you a break. It never comes, so you seek justice.
You exclaim, “That’s it. I quit,” as if anyone cares. The world — as an entity — feels nothing.
Hard work alone doesn’t entitle you to rewards.
It’s a truth we all must accept. It’s more resourceful to look inward. If you’re disappointed with the output of your effort, look at your inputs.
Ask yourself. I’m not getting the results I want. What inputs can I change so that my output improves?
2. Sometimes your best won’t be good enough
Thirteen years ago, I started a business as an independent mortgage broker. I put in 12 hour days almost every day, but my income never exceeded the poverty threshold. I had given it my all, but my best wasn’t good enough.
My mentor at the time advised me to do something radical. He put it to me this way.
What radical change can you make in the next 24 hours?
I gave up on my business and found a job. I didn’t find one in 24 hours, but I landed an interview for a six-figure role. I’m still working for that company today.
The life-lesson was clear. When you’re stuck or defeated, change what you’re doing, rather than increase how much you’re doing.
3. Be certain your success will happen
The most meaningful self-help lesson I’ve learned is the power of faith. I don’t mean in a religious sense, but the feeling of certainty that comes with believing you will achieve your goal.
To develop that faith, write your desired end state in your journal. Be as bold as you want. Nobody will see this but you.
“I am good enough at XYZ to get paid $5,000 per session.”
You can’t predict when or how that big break will come, but you must always cultivate the faith that it will.
When you wonder if your day will come, you’ll question whether it’s worth enduring the failures along the way.
When you’re sure you’ll achieve success, but unsure when, you’ll continue forever — like searching for the Golden Ticket in Willy Wonka world. You never know when or where, but the knowledge that it’s out there compels you to keep looking.
4. You’re never as good as you think you are
When I began my copywriting career, I learned from one of the most successful practitioners. He was so good; I believed I knew enough to deem myself an expert.
My first campaign did well, and my arrogance exploded. I stopped learning and subsequently embarrassed myself with colossal failures.
No matter what passion or skill you pursue, there will never come a day where you can put your feet up and think you’re good enough.
That’s because you’re never as good as you believe. There’s a world of knowledge and skill that will always elude you. The more you learn about your craft, the more you will realize how little you know.
Maintain that desire to explore, discover, and learn. Always ask yourself, “What can I do to improve?”
It often means reinvesting back into your education, refocusing on the basics, or observing the top performers of your field.
5. Rejection is preferable to indifference
When I first started writing, I feared angry critics and internet trolls. Today, I fear indifference. I’d much rather be a punching bag than a discarded bag.
If you fear others will ignore you, it will push you to act in ways that get you noticed. Some of those actions will result in successes. Others will result in embarrassment, failure, and ridicule.
In his book, Principles, Ray Dalio writes, “Don’t let fears of what others think of you stand in your way. You must be willing to do things in the unique way you think are best.” Dalio was slightly mistaken in his quote.
Yes, I’m correcting a billionaire.
It’s not what others think that scares us. It’s the disapproval others might levy upon us that frightens us.
Perhaps that’s the one fear that holds back the wannabes who dream of pursuing their art, starting a business, or doing something outside the social norms. Instead of communicating that crazy idea, writing that story, or making that bold prediction, they play things safe, so nobody wags a finger of disapproval.
You can overcome that fear, or at least numb yourself to it. Expose yourself to small bites of criticism and rejection. Affirmations that create fear of indifference can overpower your fear of rejection.
“I’m terrified of being ignored. I’m terrified of people not even caring enough to criticize.”
Turning your passion into a thriving career requires perseverance, dedication, and patience. But with the right belief system in place, you can keep yourself in the game long enough to make it a reality.