– Steven Pressfield
If you want to get paid to do what you love, follow your Soul’s calling, or live the life you’ve dreamt of living, you must become a professional. By definition, a professional is “a person engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.” Leaving the field of the amateurs and becoming a professional is what will truly start your journey. Steven Pressfield emphasizes the importance of turning pro in his book the War of Art.
But what really seperates an amateur and a professional?
An amateur engages in an activity for fun, while a professional engages in it to get paid. That doesn’t mean the pro isn’t having fun. Actually, they have the opportunity to focus solely on their passion since it is also their source of livelihood. The pro keeps their eye on what allows them to do this day in and day out, and that is financial support.
So how is this transition accomplished?
– Steven Pressfield
When we choose the life of entrepreneurship, freelancing, or any artistic pursuit, we are free to make our own choices. With no one to report to or telling us what to do, those choices can be those of an amateur’s. An amateur is easily distracted, only works when inspiration strikes, and believes that fear must be overcome to achieve great things. An amateur does not take their pursuit seriously.
The professional separates the work which is important and which is urgent, and does the important work first. The professional forces inspiration to strike by sitting down everyday and doing the hard work. The professional understands that fear can never be overcome and must act in spite of it filling her gut.
If we want to take achieving our dreams seriously, we must make a realistic commitment to ourselves. We must understand the long journey ahead of us so we can prepare for it properly. To understand the journey, we need to clearly understand the destination. We all have big dreams and aspirations in our head, but have you ever written it down?
Napolean Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich, defines this as a Definite Chief Aim. What is the main goal that we are truly working towards in life? If you know yours, you are among the 2% of the population who knows what they want in life, according to Hill. Writing down and clearly defining your chief aim can be life altering. It can clarify your purpose of why you’re here and what you’re working towards.
These are the factors you should include in your Definite Chief Aim:
- The amount of money you intend to acquire
- The date by which you want to attain it
- What you intend to give in return for these riches
Maybe money isn’t your chief aim in life; it isn’t mine. But if left out of the equation, our purpose in life can be swept aside by conventional methods of making money and sustaining our day to day lives. Thus the reason to turn pro is even greater.
Here’s an example of what a Definite Chief Aim could look like:
‘I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest paid Oriental superstar in the United States. In return I will give the most exciting performances and render the best quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970, I will achieve world fame and from then onwards till the end of 1980 I will have in my possession $10,000,000. I will live the way I please and achieve inner harmony and happiness.’
Yes, Bruce Lee read Think and Grow Rich and wrote down his own Definite Chief Aim, provided in the book Bruce Lee: Fight Spirit by Bruce Thomas. If you’re anything like me, reading that bold, definitive purpose to pursue is inspiring. Make yours just as bold. Make it seem almost unachievable. This is your highest dream you would like to accomplish, your purpose in life. Don’t hold back.
– Napoleon Hill
Both Hill and Pressfield emphasize the importance of making this commitment to yourself. Hill especially discusses how writing it down and signing it is a crucial step in starting this journey and making it a reality. Therefore I have compiled a Turning Pro Contract below that you can use to make an honest commitment to yourself.
In this contract I use the word “Resistance”. Steven Pressfield in The War of Art has termed the word Resistance, in relation to creative pursuits, to mean any block that keeps us from doing the work of our Soul’s calling.
Examples: fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, drug abuse, self-dramatization, web-surfing, criticism, and anything else that keeps us from living the unlived life within us.
Disclaimer: This contract is a compilation of principles and quotes from the books The War of Art and Think and Grow Rich. A majority of the content is not my own original work but rather drawn from those books. I purely acted as a organizer of ideas for practical application.
Turning Pro Contract
I know that I have the ability to achieve my purpose in life. Therefore, I demand of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment. I here and now promise to render such action.
I am volunteering for Hell. I will face and experience isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. This is part of the warrior’s journey.
I am on a mission. I will not tolerate disorder. I eliminate chaos from my world in order to banish it from my mind. I want the carpet vacuumed and the threshold swept, so the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.
I act with absolute certainty. I am animated by love. I am grounded and open.
I will participate in self-reflection, self-revision, and self-correction, but I will not participate in self-deprecation.
I am prepared each day to confront my own self-sabotage. I understand the field alters every day. My goal is not victory, but to handle myself, my insides, as sturdily and steadily as I can.
I understand that fear can never be overcome. I act in the face of fear despite my terror.
I am resolute. I do not take failure or success personally. I do not let external criticism and circumstances, even if true, to fortify my internal Resistance. The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had the guts.
My professional consciousness is in a place other than my personal ego. I give an ear to criticism, seeking to learn and grow. But I never forget that Resistance is using criticism against me seeking to break my will and crack my dedication.
I do not react reflexively. I control my reactions. I govern my emotions. I do not let the actions of others define my reality.
I am committed and my mind is prepared for the long haul. My energy is conserved. I am armed with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in my career, but to keep myself from flaming out in each individual work.
I create authentically and transparently. I am proud to stand behind what I create.
I do not do my work out of love. Instead, I have to love it. I have devoted my life to it of my own free will. Too much love can be paralyzing. Therefore, I do not over identify with my work. I do not take it so seriously that I am overly invested in its success and over terrified of its failures; because that is also paralyzing.
I respect my craft. I do not consider myself superior to it.
I recognize the contributions of those who have gone before me. I apprentice myself to them. I will never know everything about my craft. I seek out the most knowledgeable teachers and listen with both ears.
I dedicate myself to mastering the techniques in my profession not because it is a substitute for inspiration, but because I want to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.
I expect and accept remuneration for my labor. Yet I have a sense of humor about my work. I receive praise and blame freely.
I self-validate. I am tough-minded. In the face of indifference or adulation, I assess my work lovingly and objectively. Where it fell short, I’ll improve it. Where it triumphed, I will make it better still. I’ll work harder.
I prioritize what is urgent and what is important. I do what is important first. What’s important is the work.
When I complete my daily work, the tension is released. What I feel and say and do the rest of the day will not be coming from any disowned or unresolved part of me, any part corrupted by Resistance. I will go to sleep content, but I know I will wake up the next day with Resistance to face anew.
Every day I will face Resistance, and every day I will overcome it. I will not let it faze me. What is hard is not the work, but sitting down to do it. I will sit down and do my work.
I will be back tomorrow. Because tomorrow, I still face the blank page.
I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice, therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use, and the cooperation of other people. I will induce others to serve me, because of my willingness to serve others. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward other can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and in myself.