English literary dynamo J.K. Rowling really needs no introduction. Between her smash-hit “Harry Potter” series, the blockbuster film adaptations, the successful “Fantastic Beasts” spin-off franchise and any number of related merchandise, video games, social networking sites, and amusement parks, Rowling earned approximately $54 million in profits in 2018 alone.
But this powerhouse author didn’t always have unimaginable wealth and industry-wide respect on her side. Before publishing the first “Harry Potter” novel, Rowling famously lived as a single mom without a steady job, applying for welfare benefits to support herself and her young daughter while attempting to secure a book deal. She submitted the first “Potter” draft to 12 dissenting publishers before finally receiving a “yes” from the 13th. Nevertheless, she never gave up hope that her dream of becoming a published author would come true.
So how did this struggling and unemployed writer maintain her focus and drive in the face of frequent rejection? In a speech at Harvard University, Rowling shared the secret to her self-motivation: focusing on herself and her honest desires for her future without becoming ensnared by outside forces and expectations.
“I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged.
I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life,” Rowling told the Harvard students and faculty present for her speech.
Her statement serves as a useful reminder to stop waiting for your “big break” and to take action to achieve your career goals. Even if you “fail” the first several times you try to land that big promotion or secure that important account, don’t hesitate to persevere. Attempt new tactics, test out different strategies, and find a way to pursue your passions, however small and personal. Once you make the decision to give your aspirations a real shot, there’s nothing to hold you back but your own mental script. Don’t be afraid to rewrite those thoughts!