Oh Yoda, you are the Jedi Master for a reason.

Lately, I've settled into a slump, where it has been really hard for me to start something unless there’s a looming deadline or that it somehow affects my paycheck. There’s a difference between the things you want to do and the things you have to do. The worst part is, the things you have to do often suck (like taking a job just to pay the bills) and often take precedent over what we really want to do (such as our dreams and passions).

In an ideal world, what we want to do and what we have to do are equal, but that’s not always reality. One of previous columns examined the idea of pressure versus passion, that basic life responsibilities often thwart our original ambition. Some could say that if you really want it you have to do whatever it takes, but it’s not that easy when life happens. Working long hours, paying the bills, the chance of failure and even failure itself can make any person feel discouraged, even to the point of giving up.

So what happened to me? Why am I so hopeless? My dream of becoming a journalist has been hammered down to near oblivion at the possibility of failure. For me, the financial outlook of becoming a journalist already looks dreary, but the psychological interference is the most paralyzing. It’s gotten to the point of depression. The idea that I’m not good enough and the prospect of a long hard road can be debilitating. My life is OK right now, but the idea of fulfillment is wanting. I’ve even gone to see a shrink about it.

He said that there is no trick to get me to just “Do Something.” It takes a great deal of courage and strength to do something despite the horrible feelings of fear, procrastination and laziness. It’s not whether you want it bad enough (You can want something and not do anything about it.), but it’s the strength to actively get up and do it.

 As much as I wanted some advice that would make it easier for me to conquer my fears (like maybe hypnosis), he looked me straight in the eye and said, “It’s something you have to find in yourself.” As much as I was angry that I paid for this type of advice, I soon realized that if I don’t do anything, that if I let myself become paralyzed, then it was a guarantee that I would NEVER reach my goals. So I took baby steps, I had to wean myself back into action by first doing some passive activities. This included:

Finding inspiration – I did this by doing some easy activities like reading self-help books, watching movies, TED talks and reading relevant articles. I really appreciated the new documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times. For an aspiring journalist, this placed me in the world I wanted to be in. It gave me a rubric of the skills I need to accomplish to get to the top and helped to reignite my feelings of why the hard work would be worth it. Reading, watching and listening, these were easy things to do to get to the next step.  

Self-reflection – What are my capacities? What is my plan of action? What do I need to do to manage my “requirements” (like my paying job) with what I need to do to become a New York Times writer or CNN reporter (yeah, I know, I’m aiming high)? How can I keep myself motivated? This was where motivation became extremely important, because the next step actually required putting myself out there.

Networking – I contacted fellow writers and attended some events that related to journalism. I asked people the who, what, where, when, how and why of the business. I know that when I get stuck I can always call on these people for advice, thus building a type of support network towards actually doing something.

These are the first three accomplishments of my journey. What’s next for me is actually sticking with a timeline, but for now I’ve conquered the first couple of hurdles towards Yoda’s “DO.” But for now, stay tuned, as I continue sharing my efforts to pursue my passions.