“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
A prospective client asked me that question just yesterday.[ref] Client? Yes, client. I’ll get to it. Hang in there. [/ref]
I don’t think I gave a great answer. It’s the kind of question I’ve never been able to answer well. Five years? So much can happen in five years. So much can happen in a few months. So much can happen in a split second. How am I supposed to know what I’ll be doing in five years?
As I’ve aged,[ref] To a ripe 34 as of today …. [/ref] I’ve learned that the question isn’t so much about the realities of where you see yourself, but about the hopes you’re willing to divulge to another person. In some ways, it’s an intrusive question.
When someone asks me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” my inner critic translates that to, “Tell me the one thing you hope you can do with your life over the next five years but you’re too scared to attempt it.”
The thing is, I’ve been able to answer that question since I was in high school. I just wouldn’t say it. I couldn’t bring myself to believe it could ever happen.
Who was I—who am I—to think that I could one day be a professional writer?
And yet evidence began to mount that rebutted the arguments I was so adept at throwing against myself:
- My first full-time professional job was as a Texas Senate proofreader.
- I spent six years as a Communications Director for a stellar church.
- I worked a little under a year as a copywriter for a law firm.
- I grew as an editor and writer during the last three years with FaithVillage.com.
- Lastly, I released a book that I’m very proud of, something that was more about finishing what I said I’d do than sales or public reception.[ref]And I’m very thankful for its continued sales and public reception.[/ref]
I think most writers struggle with such insecurity surrounding their words. We’re almost shocked when people read and comment favorably about something we’ve written, but (unless you’re a seasoned pro) we’re even more surprised when others offer to pay us money in exchange for our words. The first time it happens, you feel like you must be getting away with something. They’re paying me to do something I’d do for free?
That said, this is my life-changing announcement, the biggest step of faith I’ve taken since moving to Dallas four years ago:[ref]And that turned out fantastically well, for a host of reasons that all begin with meeting my wife.[/ref]
As of July 1st, I’ll be a full-time freelance writer and editor.
My parting with FaithVillage was initiated by me and amicable. It’s bittersweet to leave a nonprofit where everyone I worked with was more friend than co-worker. What’s more, I wouldn’t be making this leap to self-employment were it not for the skills I learned while at FaithVillage and the guidance I was given by both my superiors and my colleagues.
On the other hand, when I was in high school and someone asked me where I saw myself in five years, I’d hear my heart whisper writer while my mouth muttered some vagaries about college and a steady job. It’s only taken me a decade-and-a-half to finally muster up the courage and proclaim where I see myself in five years, in ten years, even in fifty years.
And for those of you who may have read Jon Acuff’s Quitter, worry not. While it feels a bit like I’m diving off a cliff into the great unknown of a variable salary and paying for all of my own health insurance, a number of leads, by God’s grace, have found their way to me in recent weeks. In fact, one of the motivating factors for my change is a friend’s kind referral that led me to ghostwriting a book.[ref]I’d love to tell you about the book because it’s fascinating, but that’d make me a pretty poor ghost.[/ref] Additionally, I have a ton of writing projects I want to pursue (like the Writers Synonymous weekly email newsletter) that I simply haven’t had time to attack. To that end, I’ll be blogging more, and you may see more social network activity as well. You’ve been warned.
Why do I tell you all of this?
- If you ask me about it on Twitter, it’s easier to send a link to this post than it is to discuss it 140 characters at a time.
- If you or someone you know is looking for a writer, an editor, or a ghostwriter, I’m available for work as of July 1. For details, visit Editfor.me.
- So you can pray for me and my wife. From the moment I was confident enough to tell her what I really wanted to do, she’s been 100% supportive. However, I’m praying that this new endeavor will prove itself within six months to be a financially smart move.
And lastly, because I want to hear from you.
When it comes to admitting what your heart most desires, what’s held you back?