Call yourself the thing, before you are the thing

We must first call ourselves what we want to become, and then get to the work of mastery — Jeff Goins

I met this girl at university who created business cards, not too long after graduating from high school. At the time it seemed a little to soon… as if handing out business cards was something reserved for “grown folk” in suits and ties, with “actual jobs”.

What do you put on your business card when you’re fresh out of high school?

What do you put when you have not accumulated much work experience on your resume?

Do you put titles such as:

Aspiring doctor? Aspiring writer? Jobseeker?

Well, her cards read something along the lines of:

Creative entrepreneur

Humanitarian

Performer

One day a fellow student asked her about the cards. The student was probably wondering why she had created them so early. The business card holder began by admitting that she had no idea what she was doing.


But she did know what she wanted to become. She wanted to be a: creative entrepreneur, humanitarian and a writer.


Her approach to life was this: know what you want to become, and do the work to become it. Call yourself the thing and then act like a professional.

I would say throughout college she took steps to become those things.

She wrote and published her writing on a number of platforms including her own blog. She performed around the city and even established a non-profit organization that sought to empower young women.

Because of course it is not enough to call yourself a professional without putting in the work needed to become something.

The same way I can’t call myself a medical doctor and then magically become one, without going through the requirements needed like attending medical school and passing the board exams.

She could have just said she was an “aspiring whatnot” but she chose to act like the woman she wanted to become.


This idea resonates with me especially when I have a list of “aspirations” or “dreams” that I want to achieve in my professional and personal life. It’s only after after graduating university and trying to figure out my next move, that I have actually started calling myself…a writer. Okay maybe I am not quite there yet but I have begun to erase the word “aspiring” from my vocabulary.

Blake Powell is one writer who has also discouraged the use of the word. In an article he penned, he urges people to “ stop aspiring to be a writer”.

According to him when you “aspire” to do anything, you run the risk of never actually doing the thing at all.

So today, I encourage you to decide what it is you want to become. Grab a piece of paper, write it down. And then get to the business of doing it.

If you want to become a writer, then write that down.

Maybe you’re not yet published or you’re writing is not that great…yet.

But you’re a writer(or insert title).

You have to start to be great.

Hey, while you’re at it maybe even create a few business cards, too.

I will leave you with this quote attributed to Stephen Chbosky, the American novelist who penned the ‘ The Perks of Being a Wallflower’.

You never need to say you’re an aspiring artist. You’re not aspiring. You’re creating right now.