Are you afraid to pursue your passion?

Posted November 10, 2014 in Career Management, Latest News & Insights

I spent the better part of my 30’s being afraid. Afraid to do what I really wanted to do with my life, which was to run my own business. It wasn’t that I wasn’t good at being an employee.  I think I was a pretty textbook high performer. I got promoted quickly, got tagged for succession roles and typically had a good relationship with my bosses.  Despite all this, I had a hard time with authority and was continuously concocting business ideas.  But, I was afraid.  Afraid to leave the security of a paycheque and afraid to take the leap. Thanks to my husband, after close to 7 years of thinking about it, I finally made the leap. Since doing that in January 2007, this is what I’ve learned about overcoming your fears and pursue your passions:

  • You can’t run away from your calling… if you are meant to be doing something, the universe is going to push you to do it. In my case, I ended up finding myself in an abusive employment relationship where the fear of losing my sanity trumped my fear of quitting my job. If you ignore the universe it just starts beating you with a bigger stick.
  • You always have a choice… they just may not be easy. Often when I talk to other people who are unhappy doing what they’re doing, they’ll blame their financial responsibilities…mortgages, private schools, car payments. Here’s the thing, when I quit my job I was the breadwinner and my husband was at home with our 3 year old daughter. We had no family support and a $300,000 mortgage. That first year was financial hell and was really hard on my marriage. I would never recommend it to anyone. My husband kept saying “we’re going to lose the house” and we did end up selling our home and moving to another house, in a less desirable neighbourhood.  And guess what? It was the best thing we ever did. We have fantastic neighbours.  The mortgage (and every other bill) could be taken care of by my husband’s income and this financial relief allowed me to fully focus on my business. After that first year of hell, it’s been a steady upward climb. Which leads me to my next point…
  • When you do what you really love, the money does take care of itself…I worry about money quite a bit. It’s probably because I ran away from home at 17 and have supported myself ever since then. I have a high need for security. I didn’t start my business as a way to make money – in fact, this is probably the worst field for anyone with major “get rich quick” desires. I just truly felt like I could contribute something that would help other ambitious leaders. There have been many times over the past 7 years that I have worried about money and every time something has come through when I’ve needed it. I can’t explain it, it just happens. But let’s be clear…
  • Following your passion is the hardest work you’ll ever do… when I’m having a bad day at work, my husband will say “you’re doing what you love. You’re supposed to be in a perpetual state of bliss.” It’s a good thing I love him and appreciate his sense of humour. Even when you’re on your life’s path, there are going to be days when it’s not easy and doing what you love doesn’t mean that you’re not going to need to work hard. Really hard. But it really is a different kind of hard work. Today, I have more responsibility than I ever had in my previous jobs (when other people’s paycheques are on your back, it is intense) but I’m far less stressed out today than I ever was being on someone else’s payroll.
  • Fear often presents itself as a “helper”…When you are about to embark on something big, something that scares you but that excites you at the same time, fear will begin to raise its ugly head but may be disguised as a helpful voice of caution or reason. Something or someone who is preventing you from potentially making a huge mistake. It may come through in the words of family and friends or it may be through other means. For me, it was those stupid online tests that tell you whether you should be an entrepreneur. (Apparently, because my parents weren’t entrepreneurs, I’m not really cut out to be one either.) When you are breathing down the neck of your life’s passion, it is easy to let fear derail your plans and provide you with a safety net to justify quitting. Don’t. What’s on the other side of fear is amazing.  But remember this…
  • Fear is a tenacious little bastard…as humans, we are continuously growing and evolving. Unfortunately, our fears can evolve with us along the way. What used to scare me in my early years as a business owner no longer scares me, but other fears are raising their head even as I type this. The thing that I have learned is that once you face down your fear the first time, it gets easier to face it down in subsequent times. Your track record of success will build the confidence you need to keep going and growing.

Whatever your calling is…to transition to a new job or industry, to take that promotion you don’t feel you’re ready for, to move to the hills and sell pottery… please don’t let fear strangle your dreams.  In my work I see too many people living their lives trapped in careers where they’re simply counting down the days to retirement. Believe me when I tell you that this world needs your talents. Don’t suffocate these talents with misplaced fears and self-limiting beliefs. The journey to find your purpose may not be an easy one, but I promise you…you can do it and it’s worth the effort.

Happy leading!

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