Chasing your dreams.

My name is Sal Cincotta and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Sound familiar?

Well, at 47, I am still trying to figure this one out. Today, I am a photographer — salcincotta.com, magazine publisher — Shutter Magazine, and entrepreneur — too many businesses to count.

Here is what I do know about myself, and make no mistake, this self-awareness thing is a work-in-progress, I love personal growth. I love chasing something new. I love learning. I love challenge. I love to create. If you are like me, then you understand that growth is the path to both your personal and career success. Most importantly, growth is part of the journey.

While I am an entrepreneur at heart and understand the financial needs of the business, the reality is, I do what I do because I love it. Money and success come second. If you are not doing what you truly love, does money really matter? Sure, some might say without money, you can’t afford to live or pay your bills. And while they would be 100% correct, I offer this, if you are not doing what you truly love, money and success might just prove to be elusive — like finding a Unicorn.

Here is something I have learned about myself and it has proven true with my successful employees as well. When you are doing something you love and are passionate about, I find that I can work longer more focused hours than I ever thought imaginable. How is that? It’s because I am doing what I love and because of that focus and work ethic, I find that I can perform at a much higher level. All leading to you know what… greater success.

So, how can you chase your dreams and do what you love and get paid for it? Here are some quick tips based on what I have learned along the way.

Fear of the unknown.

This is scary stuff here and we all know what happens when fear rears its ugly head. Self-doubt, paralysis, and a host of other negative feeling cripple you from truly pursuing what you were born to do.

Fear is good. Fear is healthy. You should be afraid. Every day I wake up and the fear of losing everything motivates me to work harder and longer than my competitors. The minute you get comfortable is the minute you stop growing. Once you get comfortable, your competitors will gain ground and you will risk losing everything. So, whatever you do, use fear to your advantage. And remember, everyone is afraid. The only difference is that some of us have learned how to harness that fear to perform while others allow it to cripple them.

What makes you happy?

That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? Figuring out what makes you happy in life is no easy task and presents a seemingly elusive answer. However, I believe if you just sit and think about it for a few minutes, the answer will become very obvious.

Today, there has to be something that brings joy to your life or puts a smile on your face. What is that thing that you would be happy doing every day for the rest of your life? Find it.

Is there a way to monetize it?

Ha! I bet you thought this was going to be easy. “I like sitting on the beach.” Well, congratulations. I am not saying this is your future, but I am not saying it isn’t either. I know as you read this you might be thinking a host of things regarding the above question — What makes you happy? I am here to tell you there is no right or wrong answer. It could be anything from porn to shoveling cow manure. Hey, I am not here to judge. I am only here to channel your inner dreams, however warped they may be.

The point is, can you make money at it? You would be surprised on the ways people make and spend money. There is always a way to monetize something. This is where your research has to begin. Is there a market for whatever it is you want to do? I mean, people make money playing video games for crying out loud. I am telling you, get resourceful.

Let me share some real world experience with you. I started my life as a corporate citizen. I went to college. Got my business degree. Worked in corporate America for companies like Procter & Gamble and Microsoft. I was following the 20 year retirement path. Once day, I woke up and flipped the table over. I was tired of the grind and I was determined to do what I love even if it meant making less money.

Here is my point, don’t follow the path laid out for you. Don’t worry about if playing video games is a “real job” or not. Worry about you. Worry about the next 20–40 years of your life. What do you want to do? This nagging question won’t go away, instead it will gnaw at you for the rest of your life until you finally give into it, but by then, it may be too late.

Put a plan together.

Start planning now. This dream chasing thing isn’t an overnight miracle. It takes time. It will take some planning too. That’s ok and should be expected. I don’t want to read about a whole bunch of people quitting their jobs to chase their dreams overnight. That’s not how this works. When I left my job in corporate, it was part of a thought out plan. I knew how much money I needed to make to quit. News alert — it’s not going to be the same dollar for dollar you make now. For the short term, you will need to work two jobs at the same time. One to pay the bills and the other, your dream job, to start building your new venture. Get ready for 80+ hour weeks.

The most important part of your plan is understanding what needs to happen in order for you to do this thing full time. What do the financials look like? What skill-set do you need? How much training and cost is involved? What equipment is needed? What are the business requirements — legal, accounting, etc? These are the things most people don’t spend enough time planning for and then are dumbfounded when they fail.

You thought this was going to be easy? If it was, everyone would be doing what they love and the world would be a much happier place.

Chase your passion not the reward.

And finally, the best piece of advice I can offer all of you… make sure you are doing this for the right reasons. Whatever your goals are, do it because you love it, not because you want fame or fortune. Ultimately, those are the wrong reasons and will lead to failure. Every day I wake up and I know I am doing what I love to do — creating. Every day I wake up and know I am looking failure in the face. And every day I wake up knowing that in my pursuit of success, my pursuit of happiness, my pursuit of creation, I will ultimately beat failure over the head with a baseball bat.

Go get ’em.

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