I Choose to Excel

One of the first personal essays I remember writing was about the definition of success. As many idealistic teenagers do, I challenged traditional ways success is measured and questioned whether or not money and material things equal happiness. I’m sure it wasn’t, but at the time I thought the writing was brilliant and wise beyond my years.

I’ve waged a quiet and strange rebellion against the notion of personal achievement for a very long time.

Our society expects us to make life choices at a very young age. We also live in a world that encourages young people to put their hobbies and interests on hold so they can buckle down and focus on “what’s important in life.” Don’t get me wrong, earning a living and providing for yourself and your family is important. I just sometimes wonder if we do so at the expense of excelling at who we truly are as human beings.

In some ways I regret that I didn’t discover my inner writer and artist until later in life, in other ways it’s probably a blessing. I’m fortunate enough to have had the option to pursue and do well in a business career. It’s been a wild and very strange ride. Looking back, I can’t help but think that I worked too many hours and had my eye on the wrong goal.

Actually, I’m not even sure if I had a goal in mind other than to advance to the next rung on the corporate ladder. Truth to be told, I climbed each rung with hesitation. I’ve come to realize that my qualms about taking that next step were twofold.

I secretly knew that I could do the job, but was afraid that becoming “bigger” would change the way people viewed me. In my mind, there was a risk of being seen as either conceited or foolish, two traits no one wants in a friend. There was also a fear that that I would be forever trapped living a lie instead of following my dream.

I have to admit that there was a fundamental problem; I didn’t know what my dream was. You can’t expect to be able to follow your dreams if you don’t know what they are and can’t articulate them.

It’s also difficult at best to excel at something you’re not passionate about.

There are more than a few things in my business world that honestly excite, amaze, and motivate me; but the time I spend on my creative writing and art brings me far more joy and satisfaction.

The harsh reality is that the left side of my brain (the logical business minded side) is in a much better position to pay the rent and buy groceries than the artistic side of my brain is. And we all know that it can be difficult at best to achieve financial security, let alone prosperity through a career in art.

So the question is this – How do I follow my passion, become financially secure, and also have money and time left over to have fun and find a way to contribute to the community?

Through Julia Cameron’s teachings I have come to understand and appreciate that the world isn’t an “either/or” one. There are artists of all kinds who earn a living by working a day job and pursue their craft on the side. Some are eventually able to devote themselves to their passion full time, but most do not.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to work with a personal coach, I thought the sessions would help me define my business goals and map out a plan for success. When I wrote my “dream” statement, not a single word about my business came out of my head.

My Dream

I have a dream, and my dream is to become a published author with books in multiple genres. The most important one to me is entitled “A Leap of Faith, an Artist’s Journey into the Light.”

It is a story of discovery; it is my story of self-discovery and coming into my own. It will be inspiring to people who think it is too late for them and for people who have similar feelings about themselves as I do, but don’t have the words with which to express their thoughts.

I am driven to write because I want to be of service to others, I want to help young people make good choices and I want to help people at any stage of life realize that they can change, they can recover and soar. I particularly want to help women understand that they can be care-givers without giving up their identity, the importance of being in positive relationships, and we are all stronger than we know.

I want to teach and inspire, I want to help, I want to change the world and make it a better place. My dream is to do so through my writing, I will make people laugh, make them cry, help them feel, and make them think. I have experienced and survived things that should be shared in a way that will be helpful to others. I have the talent, I have the drive, and I now have the conviction to pursue my dreams and write my first book and many more.

A few months after defining my dream in words, I chose to put “A Leap of Faith” aside so I could focus on building a business. It was the practical and right thing to do.

Recent conversations with a new connection in my business world have made me realize that I’d lost sight of my dream have also been selling myself short career-wise. Over the past couple of weeks, my vision is beginning to take shape again and surprisingly it’s also growing bigger.

It’s time to do redraw the boundaries within which I’m living and release my fears about becoming bigger. The time has come to really define the dream and turn wishes into actions.

I choose to Excel

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4 thoughts on “I Choose to Excel

  1. Beth, that was a very inspiring post. I couldn’t agree more with you on the idea of success. I discovered my passion for art at a very young age and it has been a blessing a curse. It gets me through very difficult times because I can “escape” for as long as I need to. At the same time, it lead me to want to pursue a career in fine art when I knew that wasn’t really an option if I wanted to pay the bills. I guess SEO was my middle ground and it looks like maybe that was the same middle ground for you. You should make that book a reality and let me know when it’s published. I can’t wait to read it.

    1. Thanks so much Megan,

      How interesting that we both came to SEO as a middle ground but from opposite starting points. Since I’ve discovered my artistic side, it’s added a needed balance to my life but it’s also made me wish I could spend all of my time working and growing that side of me – but as you said, it doesn’t pay the bills.

      I will most definitely make the book a reality and will be sure to let you know when it’s published. I completed 5 chapters before I set it aside.

      My current project is to get my compiled book of journal entries and affirmation art edited by the end of September and then I’ll start seeking an agent. Once it’s edited, my plan is to get back to the book I referred to in this post.

      Have a great weekend!

      1. That sounds great! I really can’t wait to read it. I think it will be awesome.

        It is very interesting that we both ended up in SEO from different ends of the career spectrum. I do love my job, but if I knew the money was there in the fine arts industry, I would take that in a heartbeat.

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