I just finished reading Seth Godin’s little book called THE DIP. Don’t let me fool you with the word little. It’s jam-packed with thought-provoking ideas that make you think hard about your life. At least I know I did.
My favorite section was where he discussed the dip, cul-de-sac, and the cliff. Now you don’t really have to worry about the cliff. When it comes to professions, most people find themselves in the first two. If you’re curious, the cliff is where you can’t quit until you fall off. Godin uses the example of smoking. Where every time you smoke it gets better and better and harder and harder to quit until you develop lung cancer or emphysema and die. Okay, maybe he didn’t say die, but I thought it was a good metaphor for falling off a cliff.
So what about the other two right? Well, I work a day job in the legal field as a paralegal. And my job is a cul-de-sac. It’s going nowhere. I can work as hard as I want and I’ll still be in the same place I am now. It’s a dead-end job. (For me anyway… I mean maybe your goal is the be a paralegal then that would change things.) Although, I could turn it into a dip. I have a bachelor’s, took the LSATs and scored well enough that I could get into a decent law school. Not Yale or Harvard decent, more like one where I could shell out an ass load of money and maybe I’ll find a job right after. Ha, yeah right. Unless I went to a top ten school, I’m sure my odds would be more like oh nothing. Once I get through the bar exam (the dip) the payoff is supposed to be fabulous. (Godin actually uses this example elsewhere in the book, which was published in 2007, but I think the recession changed things, as well as the amount of lawyers being churned out by law schools every year and saturating the market. I started as a paralegal at the beginning of the recession and let’s just say 4.5years later and I’m not seeing much fabulousness to being a lawyer.)
But, thankfully, working as a paralegal opened my eyes to the dreariness and drudgery that lawyers endure. Not to mention the competitiveness, nastiness, animosity and contention that goes into every day life for them. Totally not for me. But… I have found a dip that is for me. So what is a dip? It’s where you start something that is pure awesomeness. You can’t wait to tackle your new found love. But then you hit a wall. That’s the dip. Godin says this is the point between starting and mastery. It’s those long endless nights you put in year after year before making partner. It’s the hours upon hours of editing, writing, and re-writing only to shelve that idea and try another before you find the magic that lands you a publishing contract (or self-pub and hit your sales goals). It’s what leads to real accomplishment and it’s what separates those willing to work hard and reach their goals from those that want to walk down easy street. Once you get through the dip though, the possibilities become endless. And for those that do make it through, which is few and far between, the rewards are spectacular.
I’m determined to make it through my dip. I’ve dreamed my entire life of being a writer and I’ve never felt this way about anything else. I dream about it, literally, I think about it all day long, and when I’m writing I get into this flow where nothing else seems to matter in the world. I forget my troubles, I forget to eat, and if I didn’t have my husband I’m pretty sure I’d forget to sleep. It’s all I want to do and someday, when I make it through the dip, it will be all that I do.
So what’s your dip? If you don’t have one, I highly recommend finding one. Even in the toughest moments, like when I’m editing draft six and my eyes want to fall out, I’ve never felt happier. My worst day writing, like when my muse is on vacation and I force myself to bleed out 2,000 words only to end up deleting all of them, is a thousand times better than my best day at my day job. Find your dip, work hard and reap the rewards! You won’t regret it!
p.s. Seth Godin in THE DIP also talks about how “being the best is seriously underrated”. In other words, pick one thing and be really really good at it. Specialize. Find that one thing, preserve through the dip and become a major success. You can do it! Better yet, we’ll do it together. I’ve found mine in writing. What’s yours?