Darren Stout: November 2013 Writing Challenge Winner

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Risk or Regret

It’s said that the hardest part about pursuing a dream is the first step, and that’s largely true. The first step toward a dream involves risk … risk of failure, humiliation, or ridicule.

The biggest risk I ever took was several years ago when I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a professional golfer.

I was a Human Resources professional, but was distracted by thoughts of making a living at golf. I’d thrown myself into playing at every opportunity and even got certified as a golf instructor.

Finally, after a year or so of planning (and with considerable trepidation) I took the leap, resigned from my job, and began a golfing career.

I played in a ranking tournament for a minor tour, but didn’t fare so well. I also had the opportunity to play in a tournament near home and my father caddied for me. That was my most memorable experience! Unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut in order to play the weekend rounds.

With my instructor certification in hand, I made an arrangement with the owner of a driving range and was giving lessons there in exchange for helping him with tasks of running the business. That exposure allowed me to meet an administrator of a local university and I became the women’s golf coach the next Spring.

I was having so much fun! Taking the risk of leaving my job and doing what I truly loved was well worth it … at least for my morale.

After about a year of this, I realized that it wasn’t paying the bills. I’d withdrawn money from my 401(k) to help me with start‐up financing. And, the income from giving lessons and being a part‐time coach weren’t providing for my family. Worst of all, my playing skill wasn’t good enough to earn money in tournaments.

Finally, I had to admit that I’d approached my dream in the wrong order of priorities. Also, I was older than most professional golfers just getting their start … so, I had to return to the “real” workforce.

I’ve had several types of jobs since then, never finding the joy in them that I had as a golf professional. But, even though I’ve had unsatisfying jobs and my finances have suffered almost continuously, I don’t regret my decision to “let go” and pursue my dream. In fact, I know that I would have regretted not giving it a try … forever wondering if I could have made it in golf.

And, now I have the wisdom to know that I can indeed pursue a lifestyle dream and will be happier for it. I just have to go into the next venture with the right “tools” to help me succeed.

Thank you, AWAI! I’m so excited to be learning the skills to be a successful writer and to have the opportunities available (such as this contest) to give me the confidence to someday leave the work‐ a‐day life and start living the writer’s life.

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