So you want to be a rock star?
Or maybe you have your sights set on becoming a professional golfer or your dreams are to become an actress, eventually becoming a movie star. Maybe your goals are a little tamer and your dream job is something more along the lines of a pastry chef at a French bistro or to write children’s books.
Whatever it is you want to do for a living, you should go for it — but with a well-thought out plan.
Making money is so gauche (that’s French for tacky,) but it is a necessary evil. You have to eat, pay the rent, and your cable bill, so quitting your job at the bowling alley to be a fashion reporter without a job lined up might be a bit rash.
Instead of fantasizing about the perfect gig, do something about it. Stop sitting on the couch and moaning to your friends that you can sing better than Kanye or you are prettier than Miley. Do your research. Learn your craft. Don’t quit your day job until you have at least some kind of plan.
If you’re rich, or you have rich parents, go ahead and do whatever you want to do. But if you’re a normal person, you have to keep bagging groceries or changing other people’s kids’ diapers until you have the cash to move to Hollywood/New York/Nashville.
Yours truly had 20 jobs including a stint as a waitress at the Corvette Diner, a year as a funeral director and a luggage sales rep before becoming a successful journalist. None of my former jobs excited me. In fact, some of them I hated.
Finally a friend started a magazine for moms who worked at home. She needed writers who worked for free. Since I lived next door and shared my hopes of becoming a writer she asked me to write a column. Then I became her staff writer. She threw me a couple of bucks and I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
But I had two children and a mortgage. I couldn’t quit my job…or could I?
Lucky for me my husband was understanding and came up with a plan: I would quit my boring job, we would cut back on fun and food and I had a year to figure out how to make a living as a writer. If it didn’t work out it was back to customer service.
Pre-Google, I spent hours researching at the library. I wrote pitches to magazines and newspapers, finding rejections in my mailbox almost every week and struggling to make ends meet. (Again, thank you to the husband.)
And then it happened. A $100 check for an article I sent to a trashy women’s magazine called True Confessions arrived.
My dream career had arrived.
It’s been 20 years, and I’ve ridden the wild wave of newspapers and publishing, and I still make a living as a writer. Paychecks come almost every week for an article or column that I have written. I am a writer, but it wasn’t easy. I made sure my family was taken care of before I walked away from the boring job. I made sure I wasn’t going to lose everything for my dream job.
So if your dreams are not to call people and ask them if they would like to buy a timeshare, get working on an escape plan.
Look for internships or find a mentor who can guide you toward your vision.
Network with friends and family and use social media to make contacts. Someone needs a cake for their bridal shower? Offer to make one for free (but only once, don’t sell yourself short.)
Take classes to hone your craft. Go to school at night while you slog through your job. You can sleep when you’re rich and famous.
Whatever it is you dream about doing every day make sure you have a plan and you take the proper steps to achieve your goals. Remember that Tiger Woods began honing his craft when he was still in diapers, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker before she hit it big as a designer, and Ellen worked at The JCPenney in Metairie, Louisiana.
Your dream job is waiting… but if you have to pay the rent it can wait a little longer.