We will see an NCAA football player get drafted to the NFL, and we always say that they are going pro. It's easy to make going pro sound like it's something reserved for a select few people. The truth is that everyone can go pro once you know the difference between the pro and the amateur.

Think about an amateur athlete in high school vs. one that is in a professional sports league. What is the difference besides age? The same goes for the amateur musician vs. the pro. In this day and age, you don't need to wait for others to choose you. Choose yourself and go pro.

The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps. - Steven Pressfield 

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Why You Need to Know The Difference Between the Amateur and The Pros?  

Most people would like to be compensated like a professional. The amateur does not play for keeps and usually makes very little to nothing. If they do decide to try and make money, though, they rarely will until they decide to go pro.

You need to know the difference because it's how you step your work up to the next level. Going pro is how you go from someone who enjoys writing to being considered to be a writer. It's how you go from someone who takes casual pictures to be a top-notch photographer.

Some too many people are amateurs, but they operate like professionals because they put it in their Instagram bio. Most people can tell whether someone is an amateur or a pro just by spending a bit of time with them.

It's time to get your life together and make the leap to being a pro. It's your turn to get drafted; the only difference is that you don't need to wait for a team to call your name. You can call your name and call your shots.

Going pro is how you go from someone who enjoys writing to being considered to be a writer. It's how you go from someone who takes casual pictures to be a top-notch photographer.

5 Things That Make The Difference Between The Amateur and The Pro

1. Show Up Everyday 

One of the first signs of a pro is that they show up for the work every day. It's an ingrained habit to put in the work. Basketball players don't go pro unless its clear they play basketball everyday. It's just something they have been doing for a long time.

The amateur shows up whenever they want to. It does not matter to them or anyone else whether they skip a day or not. They can miss an entire week, and it's not a big deal because it's not their most important work, and they barely have anything riding on it. 

2. Show Up No Matter What (Cut The Excuses) 

The professional is not continually making excuses about why they can't show up. It does not matter what the weather is, how sick they are, or whatever else is going on. The pro is always looking for a reason to show up, whereas the amateur is looking not to show up.

When you become a pro, your level of seriousness increases, and you no longer give yourself the option to not work on your craft. You demand excellence from yourself. Once your expectation of yourself reach a certain level, you begin to care about excuses much less. You see how much they don't help you to get better.

3. It's an All Day Grind 

When you go pro, you put in a lot of hours. It can be so much time that it sounds like a lot to the amateur. That's why when people found out that Kobe put up over 400 shots a day, it was so shocking. Most of us are amateur basketball players. The professionals already know that that's what it takes.

It's also easy to get in the needed reps and sets when working on it all day. If you ride for an hour and then go and do other work, your not a pro! The pro is at it to some capacity all day long. 

4. We Are Committed Over The Long Haul 

One of the easiest ways to spot someone faking as a pro is to see if they are still around in a year. We love working with companies and people who are tried and accurate because we know that they will always be around next year and the year after that. They have proven they are serious about their work by the amount of time they have committed to it.

Amateurs can act like they are serious about something for a short period. But the work begins to wear on them, or they start to get bored and want to do something else. Many amateurs will jump from thing to thing every year but never stick and become great at anything.

5. The Stakes Are In Your Face 

When you're a pro, your money is always on the line. The second you get drafted to the pro ranks, that becomes your source of income. It would be best if you did well to feed family, which makes it that much more real.

The amateur does not depend on money work. It's a small side hustle, but most of the time, it's not even about the money. It's more of a passion or a hobby.

5 More Things That Make The Difference Between The Amateur and The Pro 

6. Expect to Be Paid Well 

The pro has put in the time; they have shown up day in and out and faced a tonne of pressure. Due to being able to survive all of these things, they expect that they get paid well. The worst thing you can do to a pro is not pay them. The pro knows their exact worth in the marketplace, and they will collect on every penny due to them.

The amateur will take any money they can get their hands on. They know they are unproven and have not put in the work—their lack of showing up hinders their confidence. As a result, they don't expect to be paid well deep in their hearts. 

7. There is More to You Than Just Your Work 

The pro loves their work, and they clearly will put in the time work at it. But they don't allow their job description to define them. They know that there is more to life than what they do for a living. Having this separation will enable them to take risks, accept criticism, and move past failures. 

The amateur self identifies with their craft to a damaging degree. It's often all they want to be seen as. Because their work makes up so much of their identity, it makes feedback hurt more. They usually take the risks that they should get out of fear of failing and losing who they are.

8. Master Your Craft 

The professional works like a dog to keep improving their craft. The professional never settle on what they did yesterday. They don't even think about past results. They are too busy focusing on what they want to do and get done tomorrow to ever worry about what they did yesterday. 

The amateur often hits a plateau in their skill development. The reason this happens is that they stop learning. They see a little bit of success and think that they don't need to know anymore. They become stagnant and let go of the idea of mastery altogether.

9. Have a Sense of Humor 

The pro knows how to laugh at themselves and enjoy what they are doing. The amateur takes themselves way too seriously. You are being a professional means being loose and relaxed enough to do your job well. 

10. Praise and Blame Come Your Way 

The professional experts to be praised and blamed all at the same time. They never let the praise get to their heads. They see the distinction as expected when you work as hard as they do, but they don't let it develop an ego because they won't learn as much. When blame and criticism come around, they use it as an opportunity to learn. They also know that they can't make everyone happy. 

The amateur is broken down by too much praise or blame. When they get praised, they let it get to their head, and they begin to settle. When they are blamed, they are crushed, and they begin to lose all of their confidence and courage.

No One Ever Regrets Going Pro 

The sweet thing about going pro is that you will never look back and regret it. When you know, there are no regrets, its code for having nothing to lose. You only get upside when you go pro.

You get to laugh more and be lighter about your work because it does not define you. You learn more and, overall, have more discipline. All of these things will improve your life and help you to make more money in the marketplace. 

What people do regret is living their entire lives as amateurs. You never get to experience the fullness of your work. You don't even get a peek of your potential and all you could be in this life. You never get the opportunity to be taken seriously for the work you love.

Deciding to go pro and call your name at the draft is one of the best choices that you can ever make in your life. It's one that pays dividends until the day that you die.

The sweet thing about going pro is that you will never look back and regret it. When you know, there are no regrets, its code for having nothing to lose. You only get upside when you go pro.


The difference between the amateur and the pro is an important distinction. If you want to do your best work, you need to start by showing up for it every day. When you don't have anything to do, start learning, and mastering your craft, and you will find more to do.

The amateur and the pro have very different trajectories. The amateur is set to stay in the same place unless they make some changes. The pro, on the other hand, is always aimed higher. When you go pro, it means you keep your eye on the next level at all times.

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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