Photo courtsey of Kathleen Cavalaro

Photo courtsey of Kathleen Cavalaro

I love carnival games. Ask me to toss a ring over a bottle to win a stuffed animal and I’ll peel off dollar bills until I win. When I saw an app for a skeeball game, I downloaded it and started working on getting a high score.

It took me a while to get the hang of flicking the ball into the virtual baskets by swiping my finger across the screen. Once I figured it out, I was hooked. I like the progressive game best. With each round, the computer sets a new points target. It’s harder to get the ball into the smaller baskets in the far corners of the screen – the baskets that are worth 100 points – so I focused my competitive energy on landing the ball in the safer baskets in the center of the screen, landing 40 or 50 points with almost every ball.

I played countless games before I realized that I’d stopped trying for the 100-point baskets. I stuck with the smaller targets that I was sure to hit to avoid the wah-wah noise that signaled I’d failed to meet the progressive goal and the game was over.

The skeeball game turned out to be an apt metaphor for my current approach to freelancing: I’ve been aiming for the sure things.

Let me be clear: Unlike skeeball, where each ball is guaranteed to land in a basket and earn a few points, not all queries – even the ones I think are sure things – turn into assignments.

In the midst of sending queries that I felt were almost sure things, I forgot to aim for the long shots, the ideas I felt passionate about but feared rejection; queries I wanted to send but pushed to the back burner in favor of more immediate ROI.

Guess what? I was hitting the target goal (in terms of monthly income) but not getting the ding-ding-ding thrill that comes from landing a 100-point shot or breaking into a magazine on my bucket list.

It’s the start of a new week and I’m aiming high, going for the 100-point shots. Who’s with me?