I absolutely hated my first job out of college. I was extremely grateful for the opportunity, since it was 2008 and no one was hiring, but I dreaded this job that had nothing to do with anything I was passionate about. Still I showed up every day. I smiled. I made friends. And I used that time to fuel my real passion—writing. That was 8 years ago and only now that I’m working in the career of my dreams have I been able to realize a few things about success.

 

No one is an “overnight success.”

There is no such thing as an overnight success. The truth no one wants to hear is that everyone who is successful “overnight” spent years honing their craft. They did jobs they hated so they could finance their dreams. They burned the midnight oil and made incredible sacrifices. I’ve interviewed hundreds of authors as part of my job, and I can’t tell you how many of them spent ten or more years, raising children and writing after their kids were asleep and the laundry was done. Just because your dream hasn’t come true yet, it doesn’t mean you are disqualified. Successful people spend years incubating—quietly making difficult decisions to help them move towards their dream.

 

Doing a job you hate guides you towards your passion.

Like I mentioned earlier, my first job out of college was an administrative assistant position. I had tons of down time so I browsed the Internet and discovered blogs for the first time. I timidly started writing my own thoughts and it turned into an online home for my ideas. If I hadn’t hated that job so much and been so bored, I would have never pushed myself to discover my narrative voice. At that point in time I thought I only wanted to write fiction, but as it turned out, I had a lot of things to say that were based off of what was happening around me. I found my voice in the most unlikely way. Also, there’s something to be said about showing up. Working at a job you hate and striving to do your best builds incredible endurance that doesn’t go away—it will insulate you when the going gets tough and your dreams seem so far away.

 

You will get a lot of no’s before you get the yes that really matters.

I’m currently learning the grand art of asking. It’s not as easy as you think. It takes a lot of personal courage for me to ask for help. Trust me, I’ve been rejected so many times by some pretty impressive writers and agents. My rejection list is starting to look like a who’s-who of publishing. But I know it only takes so many no’s before there is a yes. I’ve seen incredibly untalented people succeed because they kept asking. And finally someone said yes.

 

Waiting for your dreams looks a lot like work.

Any dream you have will require two things: waiting and working. While you are waiting, you must be working. Digging, reading, meeting new people, learning as much as you can. Collect skills like valuable coins—you never know when they will be worth something. I used to work as an accounting assistant. I learned how to send invoices and keep books. I never thought this would be important in my writing career. But guess what, if you can’t make an invoice, you don’t get paid. It seems God has this way, at least in my life, of building skill upon skill, brick upon brick, until one day you realize something amazing is being constructed.

 

There is no shame in doing what is in front of you.

This is true for so many reasons. Don’t ever feel ashamed of taking a job because you have bills to pay. Just don’t become complacent. Let your dream continue to keep you up at night. It’s the people that don’t sleep for fear of losing their dreams — those are the people who actually see them come true.

 

Big changes don’t happen in an instant.

I have learned a valuable lesson over the years. It’s a simple hard truth, as cold and bright as a winter dawn. Almost always, big changes happen slowly. Sometimes they are unnoticeable. But one day you wake up and recognize it. For a long time my career goal was to stay home with my kids and be a writer. Things happened in a confusing, jumbled way—not at all the way I thought they would—but here I am pecking at my laptop while my son sleeps. I’m chipping away at that dream. It took years, but it’s happening.

 

God builds your dreams from the bottom-up and the inside-out.

Years ago I heard Christine Caine say “God does his work from the bottom-up and the inside-out—always.” I have held on to those words for nearly ten years. I know them to be true because I’ve seen it happen in my own life. It may take some time, a lot of work, and some sacrifice, but don’t get discouraged when it looks like it’s not happening. It’s happening from the bottom-up and the inside-out. This is the way God builds anything that is meaningful.

 

Talent is only part of the story.

On days when I just want to give up on these dreams, I remind myself: “There are a lot of people out there who are less talented than you, and they are kicking your butt. There are also a lot of people out there who are more talented than you, but they are lagging behind because they refuse to do the work.” Being talented is only part of the battle. Show up. Bring your talent with you. Learn as much as you can. Work hard. And don’t stop. It is just that simple and just that difficult.

 

Are you in the waiting stage? What is one thing you could do right now to help prepare yourself for the next step?

Deidra Romero
Deidra Romero

Deidra is a fierce friend, deep-thinker, bath-taker, book-reader, wife, mother and a God-chaser. She is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Upstream where she writes about motherhood for millennials. She has also contributed to to RELEVANT magazine, Vital magazine, Southern Calls magazine, Today’s Christian Woman blog, Burnside Writers, and BabyCenter blog.

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