I’m Struggling to Not Sell Out

One of the things I find most frustrating about myself is how I get excited about something, enthusiastically declare it to the world then a few months or years later come out and say “I’m not doing that anymore”.

I’ve done this so many times that I often wonder how it’s perceived. Do people judge me for being too whimsical? Too free-spirited and unable to commit to anything? Can no one take me seriously when I announce a new project?

Maybe it’s just my own self-judgement.

My latest enthusiasm was copywriting. A few months ago I declared to the world that I’m now a copywriter. It felt great. I saw the chance for me to take something I’m good at and apply it to business and making money.

I started reading up on copywriting, telling my friends I was looking for gigs and asking around for connections that would help me with my new career.

Then yesterday happened.

I was reading an interview with a well-known copywriter and he was emphasizing the importance of putting in your time and building your portfolio. “The world of copywriting is lucrative”, he said, “but it takes time”. I got bummed out, but why?

Deep down, I knew I didn’t want to be a copywriter. I love marketing and I love writing, but being an advertising man just isn’t a career I want to invest my time in.

Why was I so attracted to copywriting then?

I saw it as a way to make a lot of money in a short period of time. More specifically, I saw it as a way to have a consistent high income, which is something I would really love after five years of being self-employed.

It’s embarrassing to admit that I went for this, because I really, really want to see myself as someone who does what he loves and thinks about money second.

Alas, here I am. A sell out.

I sold myself out for the promise of a six-figure income, again. I did it four years ago with life-coaching too, except back then I didn’t catch myself as quickly. I entered the profession of life-coaching expecting to make a lot of money quickly. Why quickly? Because I’m special, talented and and above-average, of course.

Here’s the question I wish I asked myself four years ago when I started life-coaching, and the question I wish I answered honestly two months ago when I considered a career in copywriting.

Am I willing to spend ten years to make it a success?

Back then, I may have even scoffed at this question.

Ten years? Pshht, I don’t need ten years, I can hire a coach, work harder than everyone else and be successful in way less time.

Maybe I’m not so special.

As a life coach I came in with a lot of great skills. I consider myself a good writer and a halfway decent marketer so as a copywriter I wouldn’t be starting from nothing, but was I really as far ahead as I thought I was?

In reminds me of a moment I had with Rich Litvin, who was coaching me on my meteoric rise to coaching success back in 2012. In a moment of trust and deep listening he said to me, “Dave, you’re not as good a coach as you think you are”.

Looking back on that moment I had no idea what he meant, but now I see that he was right. I wasn’t willing to see myself as a beginner, and put in the necessary time to become a pro. It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing to act like a pro, it was that I wasn’t willing to put in the years. Yes, I said years, not months, or books, or short-cut promising seminars. Years. I was impatient, cocky and delusional.

I’m sure I’ll make this mistake again and fall in love with another shiny object, but for now it’s nice to know I’m getting better. The time it takes me to realize I don’t actually love something is getting smaller, and the time it takes to return to the things I truly love is getting faster.

Like an old friend, my writing waits for me during my periods of blind infatuation. She welcomes me back with a warm hug, saying “I’m glad you came home” and I’m always happy to see her.

I tell her my stories, my insights and my realizations and she listens, only pausing to remind me to do the thing I’ve loved all along.

Write it down.

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