When I was a child, I dreamt to be a writer when growing up. However, when growing up, I ended up not being one. I was a little businesswoman, a store assistant (when I was in secondary school), a lecturer, a freelance researcher, an associate journalist, a Human Resources professional, and an actress (even for a day for a Singapore national TV commercial on Kindness). I was “everyone” but a writer.
In 2017, together with my family’s relocation and my big career change, I decided not to let my dream wait anymore. I started to live it by attending one of the biggest Writers’ Conferences in America, participating in one of the most well-known writers’ workshops in NYC, and aiming for a competition that gave me a deadline. My friends who know me well and often read my writing pieces often say that I am a good writer. A highly-respected journalist friend told me that I should be one. Only when I was soaked in the community of writers and authors and everyone in between, I realized that I was in the illusion that being a writer is a click of the mouse. But it is like any other jobs and may be the toughest job in this world. It requires not only talents and skills but also and probably more importantly, gravity focus, steel perseverance, and most of all, a vacuum ego to get through the whole lengthy and difficult process.
With the writers’ workshop, I insisted on joining the advanced class where participants had to produce work for critique, as I did not want only to learn about it but to DO it. I poured my efforts into writing a fiction non-stop for about two months, thinking “Oh I could do it,” till I received the feedback from both my teacher and experienced fellow writers. I trashed them all. To. Rewrite.
As a coach and as writing is a life-long journey, I have withdrawn learnings for myself, the same way I would guide my coaches so those could also be applied to the other areas in my life.
1. The best time to start is NOW: Don’t talk about it. Just do it! I remembered forcing myself to sit at the table, close all other windows but Word, and type. And I made it to the first page. The rest then just followed.
2. Make sure to work with a GOAL: Although I was aware that submissions for the competition entries come from very experienced writers, I tried to work on it as it gave me a deadline and inspiration. I may fail, but who is successful without failure and continuous learning?
3. Have someone PUSH me along to make the plan happen: For me, I have my own personal coach (as a coach cannot coach herself), and the writers’ group. Many a time, people want to do something but most of the time, they fail to make it happen. A trick that works most of the time is to have someone hold us accountable.
4. Stay FOCUSED: My life over the past few months revolved around my basic needs as a human being, attending to my two kids, maintaining my coaching, and writing. I was in my own cocoon. If I had been spent my time for non-priority things as well, I would not have made it. I learned to prioritize and spend time on what matters most more from the process.
5. Rally SUPPORT: I got great support from my beloved family. My son would be a tester for my storyline, my daughter kept me physically active during this sitting period, and my husband gave me technical ideas. Beyond that, he took some leave for me to have more time on my work. I became less afraid to ask for help from those I believe could help, starting with my family.
6. Have the courage to THROW work that’s not on the right track: I dumped more than 60 pages and restarted on a blank page. It was a painful internal struggle, but those 60 pages were not wasted. If I had not gone through that part one, I wouldn’t have got to part two, which is redoing with better experience and learning.
7. Being surrounded by BETTER DOERS who are also inspiring and supportive: I was amazed by my classmates, published and not yet published writers, who helped me improve my own trade. Some left their corporate marketing role, a prestigious press, a high-level legal job to write full-time. Some write apart from their own businesses. Some retired and attended to their life-long dream. They come from different walks of life but share the same passion and willingness.
If I am to recap my 2017 in a short sentence, it’d be “I DID START IT”.
Moving onto 2018, as a coach, I don’t write about the New Year Resolution. I write about my vision for the new year and how I get there. The question that helps me nail down to the vision is: By this time of next year, what would I achieve that I’m proud and would like to share with my family and close friends? The next step was to break it down into a plan. When I worked for a company, I used to have a productivity spreadsheet tracker for my work, and I still have the same when I’m on my own.
As I want to move closer to being a doer, I picked up one item that I thought I could get done even before the new year starts: redoing my resume. And I did it as if I were preparing for a job search. The biggest reason for me to do so even when I don’t have any plan to go back to the corporate world soon is because it forced me to review my career thus far, think through what I have achieved, and envision what experience and results I could get out of the current role, should I one day embark on another career change. In the other words, that way, I could get myself readier whenever I need or want to make a move. Well, another is of course because I’m a career coach.
If I am to imagine summarizing my 2018 in a sentence in one year’s time, it’d be “I DID IT, A LOT.”
Let me end this article with some coaching questions that may help guide you on your journey to your life dream and also your new year:
1. Dream: What is your biggest dream? List all of the reasons why you should start to do it now. (Not the reasons for you not to do it!) If you could start it / do it, how would you feel? In one year’s time / three or five years’ time, what would you want to see yourself in your journey to your dream that you’re so happy about? What’s your concrete plan? What’s the one action that I could take within the first quarter of 2018?
2. New Year: By this time of next year, what would you achieve that you’re so proud to share with your family, friends, and even the world? What’s your strategy to get there? What is your action plan? What is the very first action that you could already kick-start within the first month of 2018?
Wishing everyone 2018 full of daring, doing and blessing.