Truth is, we all could probably do a better job of 'putting ourselves out there.' So whether you are looking to build what you have, redirect what you've got, or start anew, here are a few things I've been learning.
1. Admit Your Fear and Lay It Down: I have a fair amount of fear. And doubt. I have internal voices telling me I'm inadequate, unqualified, ordinary. But you know what? So does every other person who's putting themselves out there. Simply put, there is risk when you go after something big. What if I'm not enough? What if it doesn't happen? What if I fail? What if I screw up my kids? What if God says no? What if I look like a fool? The alternative however, to avoiding risk is to live in fear. You can let fear and insecurity hold you back OR you can lay it down and say I will not be bound. Your choice.
2. Decide What You Want (and be somewhat realistic): Success very rarely happens without intention. You must target what you want and why. Write it down--and not on a whim, but prayerfully, just between you and God. (I did this a couple months ago). What do I love doing? What energizes me? What have people told me I'm good at? What skills do I have? What do I think is broken that I could help restore? What are my dreams? But be realistic! I wish I could be an astronaut, but I'm 35 and I have three children and a BA in English. I'm not going to go back to school and join NASA at the age of 45. Bookguy wants to be a professional baseball player (still). But he's not going to try out for the minor leagues at 37. (at least I don't think?)
3. Don't Compare Yourself to Anyone: Jon Acuff said that you should never compare your beginning with someone else's middle. It's true. Because our testimonies are different--the paths we take, the industry, the audience, our families, our point of view, our connections, our giftedness--there are too many variables to compare yourself to another person. Yes, learn from one another. But don't try to be someone other than you. Don't envy, covet, copy cat, mimic, feel threatened by what God might be doing through someone else. How do you know He's not doing something through you? How do you know that things aren't actually an icky shade of green behind the public persona of the other person? Who are you to say that that person has a better, more desirable, more blessed, more ideal path than yours? How can you be sure? You are responsible for you. Run your race, and run it hard.
4. Make it Known and Become a Student. Does anyone know you are trying to grow in a new way? That you're considering a radical change? That God's given you a vision? Have you declared it and gone after it? If you want to gain experience in a new industry, offer your time for free. Offer content for free. Offer to take pictures or video for free. Ask your boss if you could observe a meeting. Take a class or attend a conference. Read books and online publications on the subject. Ask if you can shadow someone for an event. Volunteer. Discuss it with others. Ask if you can take a stab at it. Make it known that you are interested in growing--that you want to learn more, that you're taking initiative, that you're serious.
5. Be Generous. You might not have a lot to offer, but you have something. You have a house. You have skills. You have the ability to pray. You have relationships. You might have money. You might have time. Share what you have not because you want to get noticed but because it honors God, spreads joy, encourages other people. St. Francis of Assisi said, "For it is in giving that we recieve." It's so true. Give whatever you can while you can.
6. Link Arms. Reach out to other people in your similar circumstance. It takes cajones to put yourself out there, and it takes even more courage to tell someone about it! I am involved in two private Facebook Groups of bloggers and writers who confide, share, bounce ideas, ask questions, vent. I have several close friends who are trying to reach out (in their own ways) and we chat occasionally and encourage one another. You need safe people to link arms with as you charter new, scary, exciting territory.
7. Believe. If God is for it, who can be against it? If God wills this, He will make it happen in His time. So often I panic--I feel responsible when I don't own one ounce of it. If God is calling you to adopt, the funds will come. If God is calling you to the mission field, all the details will fall into play. If God is calling you to a new job, He will direct your path as you submit to Him daily. If God wants your book to get published, He'll lead you to the right publisher. There are things we can be doing on our side, yes, to put ourselves out there, and those things take effort, persistence, and hard work. But at the core of it all is faith--believing He is able.
What about you? Are you putting yourself out there? What are you learning along the way?
Grace to you,