I’ve been working towards one significant professional goal for several months now:
Get published in print.
(I’m pretty sure that’s not cool to admit out loud, but whatever.)
In order to research that goal, I’ve invested hours and money on research and tools. I’ve pushed through the scary first steps and I’ve “put myself out there.” A lot.
Thus far, all of my bylines are still digital.
The last few days I’ve been struggling with the decision to quit. It’s hard to work with no feedback (which is pretty typical in publishing) and I’m cognizant of all the people who want to be published writers and never are. My family is planning a move and will be setting up a new home soon, which is going to require money I’m not making from researching and pitching. I’m going to have to make some choices about the future of my career. But how?
I hate the idea of quitting. Quitting guarantees that the dream will not be realized. Quitting seems contrary to my core beliefs about optimism, faith, and perseverance.
On the other hand, I appreciate the value in letting go. I know that letting go of the things that weigh us down frees up space in our life for things that can feed and refuel us. Letting go is rarely easy, but it’s often necessary for progress.
The problem is, It’s not always easy to tell the difference between quitting too soon and letting go just in time.
Of course, there’s no right answer here. Real life decisions are not between right and wrong. There is no door number 1 with a Hawaiian vacation and door number 2 with a box of macaroni and cheese. Behind both doors are merely different opportunities, different possibilities for how things might go. That’s part of what makes choosing so tricky. We make lists of pros and cons in the hopes of picking right, when right does not exist.
There is only, as my mother reminded me this week, the next best decision.
So how do I decide what is the best decision right now?
I’ve been swimming in fear lately. That, I know, is a horrible environment for decision making. In order to get that under control, I talked to my doctor about adjusting my anti-depressants (extreme stress is a game changer for people with depression) and I’m sitting down to look at the cold, hard facts today. That means getting an accurate picture of what my family needs from me, not just an ambiguous feeling of them needing more. I’ll be whipping out the spreadsheets, doing some math, and setting realistic deadlines.
I’ll also be rereading my personal mission statement. Yes, I have one. It reminds me of my core values and was written when I was at peace, which makes it a reliable compass at times like this. While the numbers tell me where I need to go, my core values set the parameters within which I must get there.
Overcoming fear with knowledge and focusing on my values will, I hope, help me choose my next best step. That may mean quitting (or letting go), or it may mean me pushing on. Perhaps it will mean making adjustments. Whatever I decide, I know it won’t be right.