You go from amateur to a professional when you start making something for other people.
Professional isn’t merely getting paid. In 2021, getting paid to do something is easier than ever. If earning money is the only metric you are judging your work by, you’re starting off on the wrong, scarce foot.
I want to offer a different definition: you become a professional when you start making something for other people. Amateurs do work for themselves, for the joy of the work itself. They are hobbyists or enthusiasts. There’s nothing wrong with it. Amateurs are not those hoping to become a professional.
Becky and I did some watercolor painting last week, and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I’m itching to do it again, for the joy of doing it. We all need to be amateurs at something.
You become a professional when the work is done for someone else. When you take that risk to give your work to someone else and have it mean something to them. You’re a professional when you do the work even though you don’t feel like it because others are counting on you. A professional takes responsibility.
For the past few years, I’ve been an amateur writer. My newsletter, although graciously read by people (mostly friends) was a way for me to cement my own identity as a writer.
But this year, I want to write it professionally. I want to write it more for others than for my own enjoyment. I haven’t made a dollar directly off of my writing, but I’m a professional writer because my writing has become a practice for others, not a hobby for myself.
I need to write everyday, whether I feel like it or not, because I want to help others do their most courageous work. It’s not for everyone, some may find it unhelpful, but I have to do it. People are counting on me.
Whatever you are an amateur at, nurture it and protect it. We all need something to do to relax or nerd out on. Whatever you decide you want to be a professional at, create a routine, a discipline and begin today.