If you are feeling down and can't find the strength to carry on, perhaps these life lessons by guest contributor Anndi McAfee can help!
I have been a successful voice over artist for almost 25 years. To make a living as a voice over artist is incredibly difficult and I have had to learn some very valuable life lessons to keep going. In October of 2013, a girlfriend and I launched “FitMuses,”a fitness app for women available for smart devices. And although the tech world and voice over industry aren't related, the life lessons I've learned are still very relevant. So here is my list of helpful words of advice. I share it with you in the hopes that you might feel that someone understands what it feels like to go through what you may be going through, and that feeling is enough to energize you to move forward!
1. Invest in Yourself
You are an asset worth investing in. If it’s a financial investment you are considering, it can be difficult to justify spending money right now for a future result that is not guaranteed. Perhaps you need to purchase a new wardrobe that’s necessary to reflect the more high powered position you are seeking. Or you need some sort of new technology that keeps you competitive and current in your field. Shelling out a lot of money can feel very risky, and it is. But there is no greater risk worth taking than the one you take for you.
A few years ago I built a home studio. I had been vacillating over the issue for years because of the cost. I knew I would have to make a substantial financial investment and I was nervous about it. I finally decided that a home studio was necessary to take my career to a new level. Being able to record in broadcast quality from my own studio makes me an asset in my industry. The studio paid for itself rather quickly with the new opportunities I had created by building it.
In every aspect of life, you are worth the investment. It doesn’t just have to be financial. Perhaps you invest in therapy to move past some issues in your personal life. Or you take a class to further your knowledge in a particular subject. There are actually quite a few online courses available and quite a few are free. Maybe you change your eating habits or take up a new exercise regimen to invest in your health so you have more energy. Investing in you always pays off.
2. You Are Your Biggest Competition
When we go into business the ultimate goal is to make some money. We all need to pay bills. Most likely there are other people in your space approaching the problem you are trying to solve, selling a product similar to yours, or applying for the same position that just opened up at your company. Although it is absolutely necessary to know who the other players are and what they are offering, the best thing you can do is focus on who you are in the space and how you can shine in your own unique way. There will always be someone you perceive as being farther along than you, of being happier, of being more successful, etc. In reality, you can never know what is really going on in a person’s life and you can never compete with illusion or perception. But you know yourself; you are your biggest competition. There are other mobile fitness apps that approach the problem of no motivation and lack of support when it comes to exercise. I look at FitMuses as an opportunity to appr oach this problem from my own unique perspective. That goes for life in general too. Concentrate on what your unique talent and skill set is that you are sharing with the world, strive to improve your own execution of your unique self, and people will take notice.
3. Networking/Meeting New People Can Be Energizing
I used to think “networking” referred to superficial events filled with people trying to size you up to determine your worth to their particular cause. When Christie (my FitMuses partner) and I launched our mobile app we became part of the tech scene, which was new to both of us, so we started attending tech “networking events.” My whole opinion changed once I started actually attending. Yes, there will be some people who are not interested in you once they decide you aren’t relevant to their agenda but you will meet more people who are genuinely interested in just connecting with new people and ideas, including yours. In turn, you will also meet up some incredibly interesting people with ideas you find stimulating that have nothing to do with what you are working on. That kind of environment is inspirational! Networking can be very energizing in that way. Being genuinely interested in what other human beings create is an amazing experience. We r eally can come up with some fascinating ideas. Attending networking events of a more personal nature, say a networking event for moms in your city, or for car enthusiasts, philanthropic endeavors, etc. can be stimulating and rewarding, can boost your self-confidence, and can introduce you to worlds of unforeseen opportunities. Not to mention you may meet a life-long friend or partner.
4. Fail is Not a Four Letter Word
There have been times in my life when I booked a voice over job only to be replaced, or when I couldn’t seem to book any work for months. I paid my app programmer quite a bit of money to build something for FitMuses that I thought I would love only to have to start all over again when it didn’t actually work the way I had imagined. I am a perfectionist who has finally learned: you cannot avoid failure. So embrace it, learn from it, and know the experience will help in ways you can’t even fathom in the moment. You’ll do better next time. You will not always get what you want in life. You will set goals and stumble as you work to meet them. It’s possible you may not reach them at all. A relationship may have so many problems that you are considering ending it. Guess what? To fail is actually the only way to grow. If you can learn to stand back up, be kind to yourself, and move on, the experience you gain from understanding that you can get through disappointments will help you brush them off faster and with less emotional investment. Confidence comes from truly understanding you can get through anything.
5. One Day at a Time
This piece of advice has to do with managing your expectations. I have found that when you set a goal it’s helpful to acknowledge each tiny little thing that happens that feels like you’re moving toward that goal. You just can’t go from nothing to everything overnight. There are so many tiny moments that happen in between. Savor each of them. Allow yourself to feel proud. Celebrate. My FitMuses partner and I get excited each time we move up a notch in the download category on GooglePlay. Every time a new woman likes our Facebook page we call each other and squeal like little girls. If someone comments on our page? It’s like we won the lottery. We can’t know the future, but we can live in the present and enjoy every moment we get when someone connects with us. And if something doesn’t go our way? Tomorrow is another day. Try to stay in the present and take each day as it comes. Celebrate all the things you do that are difficult or stressful. Enjoy each and every positive thing that happens-even if it seems small. A celebratory mood is contagious and will spill over into every aspect of your life. Remember you are on a journey and even though, in this “viral” landscape we live in, it can appear things happen “overnight,” they rarely, if ever, do.
6. It’s OK to Take a Day off
Taking “me” time is a behavior I have had some trouble with. I am working on it, but it’s so hard when I love what I do both as a voice over artist and as a founder of FitMuses. Whenever I travel, I take my mobile studio with me. It’s a little nerve wracking because the equipment is expensive and takes up a lot of prime shoe real estate in my carry-on, but I want to make sure I make myself available to work. It’s very hard for me to say “no.” I bet you have felt that way at some point too. There are times when you have to decide that your health and happiness comes first. Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed with the amount of tasks you need to accomplish. You may feel you are letting someone down, or something won’t be done correctly if you aren’t there to do it yourself. But if you aren’t at your best, you can’t give your best. I’ll bet you don’t want to give your worst. It’s OK to take some “me” time. That might mean that you miss out on something, and that’s OK. Your kids will survive missing one dance class if you need to take time for yourself to breathe. Take time in the middle of a stressful work day to sit outside and breathe. Life is an endless stream of tasks that need to be accomplished and of opportunities that reveal themselves. They will still be there when you’ve found your center again.
7. Know when to Let Go
My final piece of advice has to do with knowing when you’ve reached the point where it’s in your best interest to “let go.” I personally think this is one of the most freeing experiences in life. When you’ve spent so much time, energy, money, and emotions on something, it can be extremely difficult to just give it up. Having only had one career my whole life, the thought of “what would I do if I was no longer making a living as a voice over artist” has never been far from my mind. When I made the decision to invest in everything required to launch FitMuses, I knew that there was always the potential for failure. We are all faced, at some point or another, with making the decision to let something go that is not working for us. Each of us has our own criteria for what that looks like, but we all face the dilemma. I admit that the decision to “let go” has been hardest for me in my personal relationships. Failure is a huge fe ar for many of us and when we are experiencing it, it can paralyze us. Remember, fail is not a four letter word! Experience is priceless and can never be taken from you. It’s yours-always. Make it count. Even if that experience doesn’t get you what you want, it will come back at some other point in your life and may get you exactly what you need.
So there you have it! My most difficult lessons learned so far. Life is a journey and I’m sure more will be added to this list as mine continues. I hope they spark a fire in your own life if you feel stuck anywhere in your career. Feel free to share any of your own unique life lessons.