Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dream Train

When I was a child, I always enjoyed biking up to the edge of the railroad tracks close by where we lived to watch the trains pass by. I would imagine myself running alongside the tracks and then jumping on one of the trains like they do in the movies. No matter which movie you have watched with a train scene in it, I’m sure you will agree that it looks adventurous & daring. 

Even as time moved on and I grew older, those childhood dreams and visions were never erased; they are engraved in my mind. It’s truly amazing but reassuring at the same time. Those visions have been a source of rejuvenating encouragement for me whenever my life compass is facing a direction that I am not happy with.  

I distinctly remember dreaming about this one particular train. It was the train of dreams and opportunity, a vibrant breathtaking machine filled with life, hope and smiling faces. I strongly desired to come aboard that beautiful train but I was always too uncertain and afraid, never feeling as if I was ready to make that kind of a leap. At times, comfort can definitely be a good thing to be able to experience. However, I had to learn the hard way that comfort can also hold you back. 

I thought that my life was actually comfortable. I was too comfortable working at a job that I never liked in the first place. Here I was, working part time at a radio station and also working at a sports bar as a DJ.  While I am truly grateful for meeting so many good people during that time in my life, I honestly did not feel as if I was heading in the right direction. I felt trapped, as if I were stuck in a barrel with no hope of ever being able to break free. 

When I decided to go back to radio full-time as an account executive, I believed that everything had finally changed for the better. The job held me over for about a year, but I still kept standing there by the tracks of opportunity watching my dream train pass me by again and again…and again. I constantly would ask myself, when am I going to jump on it?  When I’m 65?

I used my tenure as an account executive to try and master the art of selling. I learned a lot of great information and tips about marketing and networking. While I was learning a lot that would help me overall in life and in my future endeavors, I did have some great times and feel that the time I spent working there was worthwhile. A position like that works for a lot of people, but it was clearly not working out for me. My heart was just not in it.  My passion and desire was to work from home doing voiceovers.  However, the question was, How in the heck am I going to make that work?

I had an agent that was working to get me work. Unfortunately, the work that did come in was not regular enough for me to be able to make a decent living. However, I knew that there were talents out there that were able to do this from home so I knew that it was possible for me to do the same. At that time, the industry had already transitioned to the digital age of technology, so more and more clients were depending on the Internet to help them discover voice talents. There was not a doubt in my mind that I could more than likely find success in the industry if I put my mind to it. Nevertheless, that would require me to step out of my comfort zone. Could I make that sort of sacrifice? Could I quit my job and finally make a leap for that train?  

The thought of venturing off into the unknown frightened me tremendously, but I could not stop thinking about it. I finally came to the conclusion that I am not comfortable being comfortable. I am the happiest man alive when I am taking chances and throwing myself into challenging situations. 

It was apparently clear to me that I was not getting any happier doing what I was doing and I was definitely not getting any younger. Therefore, at this crossroad in my life, the dream train was looking more and more inviting to me. Was this the time to finally jump on? I had only about $5,000 to my name at the time so I knew that if I was going to go through with this, I would need to make money fairly quickly.

I took a deep breath, put all uncertainties and doubt behind me and finally hopped onto the dream train. I have not taken a look back since I made that monumental leap. Please believe me when I say that it was not like I jumped into this and came out as clean as a whistle immediately. It was truly scary for me at times.  There were plenty of days when I had to ask myself, “Was this the right decision?” Pain and discomfort led to a lot of stress and headaches. Even through all of that, I never lost my passion and determination. At that point in my life, selling my plasma sounded more inviting than going back to the office environment. The urgency of me having to make this work or not be able to pay my mortgage was an empowering motivational tool for me.   

Starting out, I had to spend hours and hours making a lot of cold calls, send a lot of emails and continuously study what other talents of the industry were doing to be successful. It was hard work and long hours, but it all started paying off simply because I believed in myself. When I started getting regular work, it was mostly for training projects and eLearning scripts. Through these opportunities, I quickly came to the realization that my niche was playing the role of an expert or instructor. 

How do I feel now about my decision to jump aboard my dream train on the tracks of opportunity? I have never been happier. This journey has allowed me to meet and learn from so many great people that have not only inspired me but also encouraged me to keep going. 

Each and every person has their own dream train that continues to travel on the tracks laid out in your mind.  You have seen it coming down the tracks numerous times. What are you going to do? Will you just stand there and watch it pass? Or, are you going to take that colossal leap of faith and jump on board? Only you can answer that question; only you can choose whether to stand by the tracks or ride on top of them. You never know how many times you will hear that whistle blow again. The choice is yours to make so…make it!


Tracy Jo said...

Wonderful, inspiring story! It is an awesome feeling when you know that you have found the right train...the one that is making your dreams come true. :-)

Kevin Scheuller said...

Excellent blog, Terry! Your story is inspiring, and not just to aspiring voice talents. It has something important to say to anyone with a dream.

Eric Bergman said...

Great story Terry - comfort zones are fine, but finding a way out of them to explore who we really are is ultimately more comforting. Thanks for the inspiration!

Niece said...

You are your authentic self! That journey and the success of getting a seat on that train is not an easy task! Great writing -- so proud to know you!!

Rick Lance Studio said...

Great blog Terry! We're all happy that you finally threw yourself in front of.... ahum... I mean, jumped on board the dream train! Nice of you to share some of your background. It's inspirational!

We are similar in that we came to voice acting in a round about way. And as you, I'm glad it took this long. That experience from the Navy, to commercial photography to music to acting and voice acting I believe makes me a more interesting talent today. Much richer, in terms of substance. A little bit of age has that effect.

I'm ashamed to admit it but when I first came to Nashville in 1983, I did sell my plasma, along with my wife at least once a week for about a year.

Btw, I love your blog design. It's almost heavenly!

Alix Spurlock said...

Such a beautiful story, Terry! I'm excited to jump back on my dream train as soon as I can!

acaba said...

Thanks for sharing this, Terry - I know one person who I'm immediately forwarding to...
Looking forward to discussing this more with you at VOICE, in June.
all the best

Arlee Bird said...

This really speaks to me, Terry. I'm going to print this out and put it on the wall above my desk. I have found myself in a similar situation. No trains have been passing by here so I guess I'm going to have to go where the tracks are. Love that analogy. Keep posting--you write some great stuff.

Oh, and wonderful A to Z Video you and Tracy made.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out
Twitter: @AprilA2Z
Blogging from A to Z

sue said...

Well expressed! As a career counsellor I hear variations on this story and dream almost daily. It could be told by anyone from 16 to 60+. It's a joyous experience to work with people who take the plunge as you have done. But heartbreaking when fear overtakes them and they live with grief and the constant question of "What if..."

I'm glad the link appeared in my FB stream or I may not have seen your post or blog.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

One of my favorite things to hear is the sound of the train whistle as it goes through town. I especially love it in the summer. I guess it speaks of adventure and stories never told.

Good post and btw, you did a great job on Tracy's video. She is a great lady who always inspires so many of us.

Ron Easton for Dads UnLimited said...

A very inspirational and timely post for me. Thank you! I came here today because of your video at A to Z.

Terry Daniel said...

Thanks Ron! And thanks to all of you who are here visiting from the A to Z Challenge. Looking forward to networking with all of you and reading your blogs! :-)

Jeremy Bates said...

I like the Dream Train concept and you are spot on. I always hear the advice, "Do what you love to do and that way it won't seem like a job."

To that end, I am doing precisely that, i.e., writing and traveling all over.

On a side note, as a kid my dream train was a Lionel with wide tracks (not an HO). My brother and I would place different color plastic army men aboard the train, sit a ways back, and blast those defenseless rascals off with rubber bands. It was my "dream" to always beat him!