I get this question a lot. And really, it’s a culmination of things, which I’ll go into below. The greatest inspiration for following my own path, versus a prescribed career path, is my dad. As a self-employed CPA, he worked hard – extremely long hours during tax season – but, for approximately six months of the year, he didn’t work. As a result, our family had the freedom to travel. Read my full blog post sharing how I was raised for more details! He made his own rules, and lived exactly how he wanted to. He was his own boss.
Before I jump into my story, I’d love to ask a few questions. I feel like we kind of know each other. You’re here reading this blog, so we must have a few things in common. But here’s the thing – if you find yourself nodding and agreeing with these questions, then we’re definitely kindred spirits, and this particular post is for YOU!
Feel free to leave your answers in the comments (at the end of the post) so we can discuss!
Do you feel trapped in your job or career path?
Do you feel you had to choose a career before you really had the chance to get to know yourself?
Do you want to pursue your passions, but feel scared or unsure of how to shift and make them a reality?
Have you followed the crowd your whole life, because that was the safe thing to do?
Do you feel there is more waiting for you in life than you’ve accomplished so far?
Ooh! Oooh! Ooh! I’m over here raising my hand wildly. I felt the same way before embarking on my entrepreneurial journey in 2011. Asking and answering these questions over and over is what ultimately convinced me to put myself out there and do something I never thought I would do: become an entrepreneur.
I know it was time to take a chance on myself when I realized my happiness was more important than working 40 unenjoyable hours a week, living paycheck to paycheck, and counting down the days/hours to the weekend. I graduated college during the peak of the recession and quickly realized, the economy did not have my back. In the span of five years I was laid off multiple times. Each experience left me feeling more helpless, invaluable and disposable. Yet, I continued applying and interviewing for jobs out of fear. I didn’t necessarily want the jobs I was applying for, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was twenty-five, and I already felt like a fraud. I continually recreated myself to fit the “employee” mold, whether that was the real me or not.
Spoiler alert! It wasn’t working. I wasn’t succeeding playing this role.
I was over the day-to-day grind. I was over feeling disposable.
I was done building everyone else’s future, and not my own.
It was time for me to create my own definition of what “success” meant to me!
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, my upbringing was very unconventional. My parents had a unique vision for how they wanted their lives to look. The choices and sacrifices my parents made allowed us as a family the freedom to travel and create memories together. Even though I went the “traditional” college route, believing I needed to get a good education so I could get a “good job,” it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I fully acknowledged that was never going to happen. There would never be a job that was “good enough” for me and my aspirations. The freedom-based lifestyle my parents instilled in me, forever shaped the standards for how I want to live my life. So, I had to create a job for myself. And that, my friends, is the honest truth.
Like you, I know what it feels like to be pigeonholed into picking a career before you have truly had a chance to experience your life and learn about yourself. Society expects us to come out of college knowing exactly what we want to pursue, yet we are young, and mostly, inexperienced. We barely know ourselves. We’ve only just begun to understand the world at large. We don’t fully understand where our passions lie and what our purpose may be. It very well could’ve taken me 20+ years of experiencing frustrations, financial struggles, bankruptcy, self-doubt, horrible bosses, failing, failing again, and getting back up again and again, to learn all these lessons. Luckily, it didn’t. I kept my eye on the light at the end of the tunnel and continued pursuing my dreams, despite what everyone else said I “should” do. I understood, after that fifth lay-off, that my passion was being my own boss.
We graduate college with so much naive confidence. With diploma in hand, we make our first goal: get job, make money. For many of us, myself included, that goal is crushed again and again. So, we have to let go of the fear of failure, and confidently make a new goal. I was met with resistance and skepticism rather than support when I started my first business. I felt like I had zero credibility. I suffered from “imposter syndrome.” After all I’d been laid off multiple times, was racking up thousands of dollars in debt trying to grow and build my business. I was barely getting by on unemployment benefits and credit cards after my third time being laid off.
I was growing more and more disheartened and disenchanted, applying to job and after job, fully embracing the possibility I could be laid off at a moments notice. I was losing faith in the “American Dream.”
By age 27 I made a new goal: good bye 40/40/40 Plan – working 40 hours a week, for the next 40 years, only to retire on 40% of my income. Hello new goal based on enjoying life based on my own set of values. This was when I discovered what it meant to be a Lifestyle Designer – someone who creates a lifestyle and career that are in alignment with what is important to them.
This was a turning point, because not only was it the most liberating time of my life, but the most terrifying. For the first time I fully assumed responsibility for my decisions and the direction of my life. I allowed myself to identify, feel and embrace where my values and priorities lay. This was my chance to be the CEO of me. This powerful realization is what began attracting the right people, situations and resources into my life that would ultimately help me advance my business, create true financial freedom, and propel me into my new career as a Lifestyle Coach.
Once you make the big leap into being your own boss, you’re going to need a cheer squad. A crew to celebrate your victories, and urge you on when you get defeated. Much like the rest of this process, it’s DIY, and that starts with you. If you’re not rooting for you, then who is? Yes, your friends and family will be too, but the cheering section for you has to start with you. Over the span of five years, I became my own cheerleader, advocating for myself. I read countless personal development books, attended workshops and seminars, received my coaching certification through the John Maxwell Team, re-invested the money I had in myself so I could work with mentors and leaders in the life coaching industry. I hired a professional coach to work with me one-on-one. When I suffered set backs, I gave myself pep talks. After all, in my experiences, nothing worth having happens overnight.
My struggles became my greatest teachers. The breakthroughs continuously pushed me beyond my comfort zone. Because I chose myself over my circumstances, my mess eventually became my message. Today, I am living proof that your dreams truly are possible if you make the decision to step outside your comfort zone.
The purpose of these blogs I write and stories I tell is to inspire you. It’s my honor to share my experiences with you, for better or worse, to inspire you, guide you, and help free you from the life you don’t want. It’s my job to encourage you to take a chance on yourself. Maybe no one has ever believed in you, or told you all this was possible. Well, I will! I’m happy to tell you, if you dream it, you can do it. So, allow yourself to dream. It’s never too soon or too late. I’m here to help you create your message, shift your mentality, think outside of the 40/40/40 plan. I want you to experience what it feels like to play in your own life, and perhaps even break a few rules along the way. Let’s create your own definition of success.
Are you ready to change your life? Let’s create something epic together!
Be bold, break the mold.