If You Want a Different Life Start Living a Different Life

Sounds simple, right?

When I was working in entertainment marketing, I’d been in my position for six years when I realized I needed to make a change. I was burnt out and it was costing me my emotional health. Though I didn’t know exactly how to expand myself professionally, I understood the only way for me to reach my full potential was to leave a job that no longer fit me.

Baby Steps

At first, I thought I’d go for a marketing position in the same industry at a different company. Then I thought I’d inch out a little further and look for a marketing position in a different industry. As I looked at job postings, nothing seemed to be right. Finally, I found two positions in the Entertainment industry that I was excited about. I applied, was interviewed, and politely turned down. At first discouraged, I realized there was another option that had been tugging at me, but I’d never really thought I could do it – Create my own business and work from home.

But, well….YIKES! THAT was scary. I mean, how do you do that? How do you leave the comfort, stability and salary for a new job working for yourself? I had never considered myself an entrepreneur – one of those brave souls who had a vision, a passion and the hutzpah to launch her own thing.

I was however a newly identified creative spirit who enjoyed the collaborative connection of working with other creatives. It was my happy place and I wanted to pay attention to that. I also knew several people who had made the jump from corporate to fly solo and lived to tell about it.

Ask the Experts

I called one of those people. As we talked, she was compassionate about my state of mind (high anxiety). She shared how she adjusted to the transition and joked about eating soup for a while. Then she got serious. “You just have to do it…just start,” she said. I was dumbstruck. “But how, I thought?” as I hung up the phone.

The biggest block for me was financial. How do I give up so much for so little? So, I started doing the math and figured out what I needed to bring in monthly to maintain my living expenses. Then I approached good friends who had a successful pet sitting company and asked if I could work for them as I was launching this creative venture. They agreed and I’d taken the first step toward giving myself just enough security to break out and begin this new adventure.

Get Energized then Leverage That Energy

And the new adventure I was leaning in to led to what I credit as the most important factor to making this big transition. I got excited AND energized to take the next steps. It was like there was something I’d tapped into that propelled me to go for it and keep on going. I did some basic homework, contacting my CPA to find out what I needed to know. I checked with small business owners I knew about affordable health insurance, setting up accounts, etc. The boring but important elements to launching your own business.

Continue to Ask the Experts AND Trust Yourself

Then I reached out to others – writers, designers, consultants – who I knew and I interviewed them over coffee. All but one individual was helpful, highly encouraging and generous with their time and insight. The one exception was someone who bluntly told me that without agency experience, I couldn’t just hang a shingle out and call myself a copywriter. (Though I’d written internally for a major entertainment network for the previous five years). I was so surprised by this input. I thanked him for his time and left the meeting thinking how grateful I was to know better than to listen to him. That remark only made me more confident in my decision to do exactly that. That was in 2004.

It was a turning point in my career and in my life. For the first time I was completely independent and though my salary did take a hit that first year, it didn’t matter. Nothing could diminish my happiness. I was free to be on my own. It was exciting and energizing and I was fortunate to have incredible support from so many – including those who remained at my company. They were some of my first clients. Since then, I’ve worked with amazing creative people. I’ve learned so much and I continue to step beyond my introverted tendency to play it safe. The rewards for letting go of something that makes you feel secure, but drains your spirit are exponential.

As our world continues to shift and rattle and shake our sense of security, I know there are a lot of folks considering making a change or having to deal with a change that was made for them. There is uncertainty in the air and many people are sharing the same anxieties and worries that I’m familiar with.

Listen to the One Who Knows You Best

You may not know exactly where you’re headed next but check in with yourself first. Pay attention to the thing that always makes you happy. The thing you love about whatever work you do. For me it was collaborating in the creative process and writing. And if you’re currently in a position that you don’t care for, then consider something you used to love that you don’t get to do any more.

With the seeds of these ideas, reach out to others. So many of us are happy to help someone who is trying to find the right fit doing something they love and believe in. There is so much generosity and compassion in others, it’s important to ask that first question. “Do you have time to touch base about an idea I have?” or “Can I pick your brain about your current work?”

If you find yourself in a space of uncertainty, consider you’re not alone. And you may be surprised by what resources you can connect with when you begin to just…do it. One step at a time – whatever it is you’d like to start doing from this point forward.

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