It's 3am and I can't sleep. I toss and turn - a series of "what ifs" keep whirling through my head. What if I fail? What if I make a mistake? What if I end up alone? Then a little voice inside me says loud and clear: "It's my life." Simple, sweet, and I fall asleep.
Tomorrow I am quitting my job in corporate interiors to start my own design practice.
For anyone who is considering a life change, I salute you. Familiarity and routine are essential to feeling safe. When our comfort level is altered, our security instincts kick into high alert. Ask any parent how hard it is to get a child to give up their pacifier. For many adults, their job is that pacifier. It was for me.
I was comfortable in my work environment. My boss and coworkers were (and are) good friends to me. I learnt a great deal through working in corporate design. My decision to leave had nothing to do with unhappiness at the office. My decision to leave had to do with a personal vision: to work one-on-one with clients and help them craft a space that affirms their unique identity. I took ownership of that vision, set aside enough cash for a few months, and turned the following 3 facts into daily mantras.
fact #1: everyone fails
I always admired people who started their own business. My dad, for example. After a couple of decades working for a large organization, he set up a mineral analysis lab (literally in our backyard), and worked night and day to get his business off the ground. In time, he became quite successful through perseverance, hard work, and a huge amount of faith. My dad always told me I should branch out on my own. I thought he was nuts. Dad, I said, I have a paycheck, health insurance, a 401-K plan and people to talk to. Plus, what if I fail? He said, Everyone fails. Big deal. We just get up and keep going. How I love his matter-of-factness. Dreams take several attempts before they become a reality.
FACT #2: THERE ARE NO MISTAKES IN LIFE
When I look back, I can see I have done some awesome things. I also have made a few not-so-smart moves. These "blunders" have made me cry, laugh, and figure out how to do things differently. There are no mistakes in life. Take Christopher Columbus, for instance. He thought he was going to Asia and landed in the New World by accident. Each time I am uncertain about a decision, I tell myself: "I hope I mess up so I can discover a brand new world, just like my buddy Chris." Life is a cluster of messy, uncharted paths made by people who have no idea where they are going and end up somewhere they never imagined. Just think of the possibilities!
Fact #3: i am not alone
Somehow I believe I have to figure it all out on my own. As if my uncharted territory does not allow intersections with others. FYI that feeling (the tossing and turning at 3am holy smokes what am I doing feeling) is shared by every human going through change. The point is: We are not alone. If others have blazed a trail before us, perhaps they can shed some light on the process. So I started telling people (from all walks of life) about my plans, and I asked a lot of questions. And I was blown away by the amount of support, tips and helpful advice I received. I just had to reach out. I came to realize, the African proverb says: It takes a village...
What is your vision?
No matter how big or small, that vision is yours to celebrate and proclaim. Just know that falling is leaping, mistakes are achievements in progress, and others are there to help. And besides...we can be insomniac buddies! Post a comment below to tell me about your vision, I'd LOVE to hear it!