My story is not unique. I'm one of many who learned the hard way that being "successful" doesn't equal being "fulfilled."
I did all of the things that I was taught makes us happy. I went to school, studied hard, got a degree, and began my broadcasting career at the bottom of the ladder, making $19,000 a year at a small radio station in Augusta, Maine. Through persistence and hard work, I kept advancing. By age 24, I was making six figures in a bigger city. I met celebrities like Taylor Swift, lived in beautiful homes, wore designer clothes, and never stressed about paying bills.
In 2014, I took a new job with the biggest job title that I had ever attained. Yep, I climbed to the top of the corporate ladder.
Then I realized it was leaning against the wrong wall.
My soul was crying out to do something more significant, but I felt trapped. After 18 years in radio, it felt too late to reinvent myself. I was afraid of what other people would think if I pressed the reset button.
But I had also written this purpose statement for my life:
"I was born to feel the authenticity that comes from my higher being and myself and to feel the connection that results from inspiring others to feel the same."
I knew playing Justin Bieber on the radio every hour didn't align with this mission, so I walked away from the only career I had ever known to launch my own coaching business. Within just weeks, I attracted paying clients, helping them connect to their own sense of purpose. My writing is featured around the world on websites such as this. Most importantly, I'm enjoying the freedom that comes from living life on my terms.
And along the way, I learned 5 life changing lessons:
1. If you can't find happiness in your current job, you won't be happy moving to a similar job in a new company.
To paraphrase Taylor Swift, you're "putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole." The new stimuli associated with a new job will produce a temporary high that quickly fades. After a few months, the dissatisfaction will rear its ugly head and you will find yourself saying things like:
"If I just made $15,000 more, life would be awesome."
"If I just had a boss that appreciates me, I'd be happy."
"If I just had a bigger title, I'd feel fulfilled."
Eventually, you achieve each new goal... only to realize it didn't fill the empty space. So you set a new goal and expect that one to be the answer.
Looking for external ways to find a sense of significance never ends well. Real significance comes from within, by using your unique gifts and talents to somehow contribute to the greater good. In realizing that the secret to life actually lies in giving rather than getting, you can create massive changes in your level of happiness quickly.
2. Leaping into the Unknown Is Scary but Necessary to Grow.
No matter how much I practiced on my pillow, I was still scared before my first kiss. I was afraid when my parents dropped me off at college, leaving me on my own for the first time. I was scared to move to new cities that I knew nothing about in the name of career advancement.
But every one of those experiences helped me to grow.
Somehow, over thousands of years of evolution, our brain still cannot distinguish between what is a life-or-death fear and what is simply the discomfort that comes from pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.
So next time you are afraid about anything in your life, simply ask yourself, "Will this change cause me to die?"
There is a 99.9 percent chance that the answer will be no. With that knowledge, run towards the fear instead of away from it. Stepping out of your comfort zone will help you grow. When you're growing, you're learning. The more that you learn, the more that you have to give to the world.
And life isn't about getting... it's about giving.
3. People won't always agree with your decision. That's a good thing.
The minute we step away from the expectations of our families, teachers, and friends, they will urge us to jump back into the safety of the kiddie pool.
When I made the decision to launch my own business, many of those closest to me urged me to stick it out in radio for a couple of more years and build my business "slowly." They didn't say these things because they want me to be unhappy. Their advice simply reflected their own reality, where many of them were also letting fear dictate their own decisions and prevent them from chasing their dreams.
If people don't approve of what you are doing, that's awesome! It means you are living your vision for your life instead of someone else's.
4. My job didn't define me.
I see this when working with new clients now. When you ask people to talk about themselves, their first instinct is to talk about their job. I did the same thing. My self-limiting label of "radio broadcaster" did not address the other unique talents that I had. I was also a content creator, speaker, communicator, empathizer, writer, listener, creative force, spiritual seeker, friend, connector, big picture thinker, and many other amazing qualities.
While I'm no longer a "broadcaster," those other multitudes still exist. In fact, it's given me space to magnify and maximize them in a way that feels right... that feels like me. This provides me infinitely more joy than getting my radio photo op with Taylor Swift.
5. I Don't Regret It
For the first three months, I kept waiting to wake up and say, "Oh my God, What Have I Done?" But even while experiencing the setbacks that happen to every new entrepreneur, I haven't missed my old life. I don't miss tedious meetings about scheduling the next meeting. I don't miss feeling like there is an anvil sitting on my chest in the morning when I think about the day ahead. I feel a sense of peace that my life is as it should be. I feel pride that I'm following my heart and forging my own path. I only wish I had pushed past fear and done this sooner.
So for those of you reading this who are on the diving board, staring at the pool, and wondering if it's time to jump, I'm here to say to you "Come on in... the water's fine!"
Are you ready to make a leap of faith and passionately pursue your purpose? Are you unsure where to begin? Are you still struggling to connect to what your purpose is? I'd be honored to help. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org