How Did You Make it Through the Lean Times? One Writer’s Story
I can hardly believe the amazing response to last week’s article, “How I Made $103,643 as a Writer This Year.” I had no idea it would hit such a chord, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone’s comments and shares.
One comment in particular stood out for me.
“How did you make it through the lean times?” asked Stephen Bruce.
Hoo boy. Big question. Because we all have them. I used to write articles for a local magazine profiling successful local businesses, and every single business owner I spoke to over a ten-year period had these stories. “War stories,” we called them. Bleak moments. Close calls. Dark times. Whatever you call them, wherever they are in your history (like now, for instance?), we all, all of us, have them.
So, how did I make it through my lean times? Well. Have a listen.
(Transcript below for those of you who prefer actual written words–love ya!)
Bottom line: If it were easy, everyone would do it. It’s not going to be easy.
BUT, I’ve committed in 2016 to making it eas-ier for you. Subscribe (top right!) for a constant stream of FREE content throughout the year that will accelerate your journey, and don’t forget to grab our free content creation kit below (after the transcript) to make your writing work faster and more effective.
Hey, peeps. This is Heather Head, and I just wanted to, first of all, thank you for your amazing reception on my article on LinkedIn last week, about how I made six figures as a writer. I was blown away and just amazed by the comments. And, I thought I would take a minute today to answer a question that came up. It was, I think, a really important question, which is, how did you make it through the lean times? It took me fifteen years to get to this point, where I am living a comfortable lifestyle that takes care of my family, that feels really good. It took me a long time to get here, and in the time in between, there were some really, really hard times, and I know that some of you who read that article, who may be watching this video, maybe in the middle of one of those hard times, really, right now.
And so, I wanted to answer that question. I don’t have a good answer. I don’t have a good answer, but I do have an answer. I recently saw a video by Steve Harvey where he was talking about jumping, and the importance of jumping, and how if you want to be really successful in life, you’ve got to ?? jump. There was one moment in that video where he says “the first time you jump, the parachute will not appear right away”. That really hit me, because it was so true for us. We made our first real jump into relying on my income full-time about six years ago.
Previously to that, I had been part-time. My husband had been working, and so the financial impact of whether I succeeded or failed was fairly minor. But, about six years ago, it became absolutely crucial, and when we first made that jump, that parachute did not open right away. There were times when we didn’t know how we were going to pay our bills.
There were times where we were juggling our bills to pay the ones that were getting ready to go to collections, or deciding which of the several that were going to collections we were going to pay first, and which ones we were just going to let go to collections. I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty too deeply, but whatever it is you are going through in this journey, odds are we’ve been there and we made it here. So, back to the question: how do we make it? How do we get through these hard times? You know, I don’t have a simple answer. Sometimes, some of it was just, you get to rock bottom and maybe it’s not as rocky as you thought.
You rely on your willingness to give up the things that felt so important when you had enough money, and now you realize they’re not important. You can rely on family a little bit, but not too much, because, well, in our case, we didn’t want to ask a lot of our family. We were maybe a little embarrassed to tell the full truth about how bad things were. You rely on friends, not for financial support so much as for moral support, and maybe, occasionally, to pinch, to come watch your kids for you because you can’t afford a babysitter, and you rely a little bit on faith, if you’ve got it. If you don’t, then I don’t know. You rely on your, I don’t want to call it ‘inner strength’. That sounds really cliche. It’s more, you just decide to do it. Sometimes, what you rely on is dumb luck, in the form of, you know, I can’t tell you how many times we talked about going out and getting a job and just ending the torment, and we put together our resumes and we’d have a plan in place, and then something would just happen, something would happen that we changed that.
So, I had a guardian angel, a client to this very day, somebody I love very dearly and I take very good care of, because during those dark times, every once in awhile, when things were just almost as bad as they could get, a check would show up unexpectedly, and it would be from him. And, I would call the company and be like, did you guys mean to send me this check? I don’t know what it’s for, and they would say, oh, and they’d make something up. They’d say, oh, that’s for your retainer that we’re going to start doing in a few months. Just an advance payment, or oh, that’s because we want you to do X, Y or Z. I don’t know how he knew. Somehow, he seems to just know when we really needed that, and it would come through and it wouldn’t be enough to pull us all the way out, but it would be enough for me to say, okay, I’m going to keep going.
I had friend who did something very similar once, and it wasn’t so much the financial support as it was the message behind the financial support, and the message was “I believe in you. I believe you can do this. I believe it so much that I’m going to invest in you”. It didn’t happen a lot and it didn’t happen enough that it made things easy. It’s not going to be easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. So, how did I get through? I got through because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I got through because, at least some of the time, when it mattered, I believed that that parachute would open. I believed it, and that’s it, you guys. I don’t know what else to tell you. I would be lying if I told you it was easy. I would be lying if I told you I always believed it would come to this, and I think anybody who tells you that this is easy, that you don’t have to work hard, that, if you get it right, you can do it in two hours a week? They’re either lying or deluded, or they’re dadgum lucky, because not everybody is it going to be like that for. So, I guess, what I want to say is, I believe in you, and I believe you can do this, and it’s worth it.
What’s on the other side is freedom. You can look at this stuff. We love the house we live in right now. We love our built-in bookcases. I love the lake that we live on. I love being able to feed my family, eating is nice. But, fundamentally, you can do that with a job. But, what I also have is freedom. I choose what I do with my day. I choose who I work with. I choose to work with the best people that I’ve ever known and do things that I’m passionate about, that I believe in, and on my own terms. And yes, I work 50 hours or more a week, but when you love it like this, it’s not work. Some of it is, don’t get me wrong. Even at this level, you’re going to be doing things that, you maybe wish you were doing something else in that moment. Not everything’s going to be amazing, fun. I don’t like statistics. I don’t like math. I don’t like working out numbers, which is a necessary part of being a business owner. But, fundamentally, the number of hours that I feel like I’m working per week is way less than the 40 I would be working if I was working for somebody else’s dream. That’s what it comes down to. Every hour that I work is an hour toward my dream of who I want to be and what I want to do with my life and making the difference that I want to make in this world. So, going back to Steve Harvey, he said “The first time you jump, the parachute isn’t going to open right away, but if you don’t jump, it won’t ever open.” So, if you’re thinking about jumping and you’re willing to do the hard work and you’re willing to take the pain, or if you’re down there in the pain, just jump. Just jump.
Heather Head is an author, as well as the founder of Scopcity. When she is not writing, running the business, or chasing down bad guys on Twitter, she enjoys hiking, snuggling with her husband and three boys, and avoiding the kitchen.
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