I've written before about how I became a full-time writer and what it takes to get paid for your passion. But if I didn't tell you the true secret to turning pro, I wouldn't be doing my job.
There's an important truth that few people who've “made it” in their industry want to talk about. But in my experience, it's essential to success.
What is it? Mindset.
Success is first experienced in the mind before it becomes a reality. This may sound kind of metaphysical, but all I mean is: Before you start acting like a pro, you will have to think like a pro.
For me, this meant calling myself a writer, even though I was scared to do so. It meant stepping out in faith, forcing me to rise to the occasion.
And it worked.
Having spoken to numerous professional artists, some of which have reached the peak of success in their fields, I've found this to be a universal characteristic for almost every person. Before they succeeded, they had an idea of success and how they would achieve it.
Turns out, what we actually think — about ourselves and our professions — plays an important role in how we act.
So what does this mean for you? Simple: If you are longing to do or be something, you may need to first change the way you think.
As an exercise, why not try something different, possibly scary? Change your mind. Think differently about yourself. This often has a few important outcomes:
- You will take the work more seriously. If you want to be a writer, start calling yourself a writer. It will force you to write. But even more than that, it will require you to think like a writer when you actually put pen to paper or lay fingers to keyboard.
- Your confidence will grow. You will also learn that the most powerful affirmation is internal. Most of us get praise from friends and family that we don't accept. But once we start believing something ourselves, confidence tends to skyrocket.
- Others will treat you differently. As you begin taking your work more seriously, you tend to do better work. And as your confidence grows and you begin acting more like a pro, the world will have no choice but to start treating you like one.
Of course, there will still be doubters and skeptics, even those who hate you. But that's okay. There will always be those people. So it's a good thing you made a decision a long time ago to love the work and believe in yourself, no matter what.
What this doesn't mean
Real quick: before you pick up those tomatoes, please understand that I'm not saying if you simply believe something, it will happen. That's absurd. Nor am I saying that you won't have to work hard, struggle, and hustle to achieve your dreams. You will.
But I am saying the fight begins in your mind. So if you find yourself in a losing battle with the world to claim your dreams, maybe you need to go back to where it all started: in your mind.
Have you always thought negatively of yourself? Been embittered towards those who succeeded? What if you made the decision to change your mind? If all that negativity and cynicism hasn't worked out for you, then what harm could this cause?
Time to turn pro
This is what it means to be a professional. It's all it's ever meant — someone who takes the work seriously enough to do it well and doesn't look to others for qualification. You are qualified because you believe you are. Or as Steven Pressfield says:
You are when you say you are.
Are you ready to start acting like a pro? To do the work that matters and stop apologizing for the art you owe the world? Then it's time to start.
You will begin where all pros do: with the mind. By changing the way you think today so you can leave a legacy tomorrow. It may be uncomfortable, even painful. But it will be good.
And you just might be surprised at how much a simple shift in mindset can affect everything.
What's your experience been with thinking like a pro? Share in the comments.