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4 Tips for Taking a Chance on Yourself From Best-Selling Author Lorenzo Carcaterra

The author of 'Sleepers,' 'Midnight Angels' and the upcoming 'Three Dreamers' says it is never too late to try something big.

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I have spent the better part of three decades writing books and scripts for TV and movies. I have seen great success and I have seen disappointment, but I have generally always followed my instincts. 

I was in the middle of writing what would be my 11th book and ninth novel when I decided to take a different approach. I wasn’t sure my publisher (or any publisher, for that matter) would be interested in the idea, but it was important to me, a book that I not only wanted to write, but needed to write. It was a major shift in both direction and targeted audience and with that, comes risk. But, it was a risk I had to take. 

That 12th book, Three Dreamers, my first non-fiction work since 1995, will be published on April 27. It's about three women in my life who taught me about courage, kindness and the power of storytelling: my mother, my grandmother and my late wife Susan. At this point, I have no idea how well it will sell, but I do know this, it was worth the leap. It was a book I wrote at the perfect point in my career.

Were there risks to making that leap? Yes, plenty. But here are four things to consider when deciding if it’s time to try a new approach to your career. 

Don’t be scared to try something old and make it new again. 

Never be scared to make that jump if you believe in your idea, whether it is to try something old and re-mold it to feel new again or attempt something you’ve never done before and work it until it fits your comfort zone. Own it, like you have every other career move you’ve made.

Be honest with yourself when it’s time to make a change.

Take a step back and be honest with yourself about when it’s time to change course, regardless of whether your career is running smoothly, or you feel yourself on the downswing. If the idea is strong enough and the challenge imposing enough, that’s the best time, perhaps the only time, you’ll have the chance to make that move. It will help snap you out of any slump you might feel you’re in or re-awaken a creative flow that has grown stagnant. And the fear of failure will push you to work harder and be better than you have been in a very long time.

Related: How Kevin Hart Went From Being a Comedian to the Guy Who Owns Comedy

Do what you feel is right for you, not necessarily what everyone else tells you is the best move.

It is always best to do what you want to do and drive your career in the direction you want it to go. The easy way is to let others dictate the path which is, more often than not, one you have been on for a while. Trust your gut, your talent and your instincts. Come up with your own solution to any problems that have arisen out of your career and don’t let others make the call for you. If you fail based on their judgment, it will still be regarded as your inability to make it happen, so if you’re going to take the hit for any success or failure, let it be on something you wanted to do.

Never be content or stagnant. 

Don’t leave your career in still waters, it kills creativity and the desire to push yourself to excel. Never be afraid to try something new and always be prepared as to how that fresh, new venture, that exciting and different approach leads to a surplus of pleasant surprises. You will be proud of what you have accomplished. You’ll be proud of the work.

And, most of all, proud of taking that chance and betting on yourself.

That alone makes you a winner.

Related: Ken Burns Talks About Leadership, Productivity and Achieving Immortality Through Storytelling

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