from The Day Job Survival Kit by Durga Walker | Updated February 6, 2019
If you're 85 years old and want to be a toe dancer, can you succeed? Maybe. Older folks have been known to burn up the dance floor. There’s only one way to find out if your dream is possible, and that’s by taking steps to make it come true. Anyone can express himself or herself creatively. There’s no magic to this; we are all inherently creative beings. However, if you dream of accomplishing something in a creative field, you'll need one vital ingredient: persistence.
Persistence means action. It means doing, not dreaming. One small action can open many doors. Many small actions can take you all the way to your dream.
Let me tell you a story. Ten years ago, all I wanted to do was paint, weave and write. At the same time, I was working a job that had nothing to do with my art. Sound familiar? As a way of grappling with this dilemma, I wrote an article on the subject and submitted it to Creativity Portal, where it was well received (11 Tips to Surviving a Day Job with Your Creativity Intact). Immediately, my dream ballooned into publishing a book and creating a creative business so that I could devote more time to my art. It was one small action that opened many doors.
Obstacles? You bet! Time, money, day jobs — oh my! Relocations, relationships, self-doubt, all sorts of hard knocks. But I hung in there, one foot in front of the next, and I can finally see the clear road to my dream. It’s not a glamorous story, but they rarely are. And its moral has less to do with talent than persistence.
Will it take you ten years to accomplish your goal? Who knows? But let me share with you some of the tools I used to keep my dream alive. These are only three of what Napoleon Hill calls “the causes of persistence.” And yes, you can generate persistence out of thin air.
Hill calls this “definiteness of purpose.” Your dream is a goal, and a goal is a destination. Without a destination, you can’t possibly know where you’re going. There are many good guides around that offer excellent help on defining your goal. Make use of them. Sharpen your vision to that one point on the horizon where you are headed. Whenever you start to flag, hone in on it again. Never forget where you are going, and why.
A very dear friend of mine spent much of his life pining to be a professional actor. After years of distress, he realized that in order to fulfill this dream, he would have to move to places where actors work and do the very hard things it takes to be a professional actor. He came to the difficult conclusion that he just didn’t want it badly enough. He was focusing on the wrong dream.
I applaud him for this. Letting go of a dream isn’t easy, but now that he has, he’s able to work more persistently toward what he really wants. Examine your dream. How badly do you want it? Is it the right dream?
Habit is the persistent dreamer’s secret weapon. It will carry you through and around most obstacles. Take fear, that great bugaboo that stops us all in our tracks. The best way to overcome fear is to go on despite it. If you can develop the habit of moving forward, of putting one foot in front of the next, you can rely on that habit to carry you on, despite fear. Soldiers do it all the time.
Once, I saw a 100-year-old woman on The Tonight Show, a ballroom dancer, of all things. She came on the show decked out in her ball gown and waltzed across the stage with Jay Leno. When he asked her afterward what her secret was to staying alive, she said, “Just keep breathing.”
It doesn’t take long to develop a habit. If you know what you want, and you know that you do want it, it shouldn’t be hard to create the habit of moving steadily toward it. Get in the habit of doing one thing every day that will move you closer to your goal. You don’t have to do it well — that will come. Just do it.
My own dream has come a long way in the last ten years. It’s become clearer, more vivid, and more achievable, and the speed at which I move toward it is accelerating. Cultivate persistence. Without it, every wish is an impossible dream.
The Day Job Survival Kit (Archangel Ink, 2015) is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback. Visit my author page at Amazon, and please write a review of the book while you’re there, if you’re so inclined. Reviews are helpful for other readers, but they’re also helpful for authors. Help me make the next book better!
©2015 Durga Walker. All rights reserved.
Durga Walker is living proof that day jobs need not stand in the way of creative dreams. ...