Why do some succeed and others fail? In a word – persistence. It’s that ability to get knocked down, pick yourself up, and keep going. Success of course is entirely in the mind of the beholder. Success to one person is failure to another.
Increasingly people find their way to my blog looking for the key to a successful career as a personal historian. I don’t have a magic formula. But what I do know from years of experience is that without persistence nothing of real value can be achieved.
There are plenty of obstacles on the road to becoming a successful personal historian. I’ve selected four. Your success will largely be determined by whether you persist and overcome these obstacles .
The Isolation Obstacle
Your home office can be a lonely place. This is especially true if you previously worked in a business where you socialized with fellow employees.
There are ways to minimize the isolation. You can network through social media, join professional associations, and participate in service organizations. But the truth is that a good part of your personal history work will be spent alone.
Failure to overcome this isolation and persist can give you second thoughts about being a personal historian.
The Fear Obstacle
This is the biggest obstacle to your success.
There’s so much to fear when starting a new personal history business. There’s the fear of marketing yourself, the fear of doing the wrong thing, the fear of not having enough money to live on, the fear of being a competent interviewer, and on and on.
Fear can paralyze. An ability to keep going in spite of your fears spells the difference between success and failure.
The Cash Flow Obstacle
If you’re used to a regular paycheck, get ready for a shock. For the first couple of years you’ll find more money going out than coming in.
In order to persist through the lean times you’ll need to be able to call on all your financial ingenuity. If you don’t have a reserve of funds, or a part-time income or the support of friends and family or the thriftiness of a Scotsman, you may not be able to continue.
The Experience Obstacle
Personal historians come from a wide range of professions but no one comes to the business fully experienced. It’s the kind of work you learn over time and largely by doing.
There are a host of basic skills you need – marketing, interviewing, editing, project management, and sales, to mention a few. Being able to clearly identify your business shortcomings and showing persistence in overcoming them spells the difference between success and failure.
Let me leave you with these inspiring words on persistence by American naturalist and author, Edward O. Wilson.
You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.
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