This story is designed to inspire & give courage to anyone who is on the verge, and feeling called, to quit their job in order to pursue something more meaningful. This is part of the Taking the Leap resource, a database full of real-life stories from people who have successfully gone from job dissatisfaction to career emancipation.
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. And I didn’t exactly “leap”.
To me, it felt more like a violent shove that had me resisting what was happening most of the way down. I consider it more like waking up in my life to rediscover the core of who I was, and rebuild from there. I read this post recently by Alison Nappi on being pursued by consciousness and I felt such a connection to the process. She writes,
I wouldn’t recommend the pursuit of consciousness to anyone. I would not have chosen it for myself. I didn’t. It chose me. If it hasn’t called your number yet, don’t worry. It will, eventually.
In my case, this couldn’t be truer. It reminds me of another gem I heard a few years ago that said the most dangerous place for us to be is unconscious in our own life. This basically speaks to falling asleep at the wheel in your own life (which is what I did in many ways) because in this place, life appears to sideswipe us with unexpected and devastating events that call us forth to transform whether we like it or not.
Something Bigger at Play
Looking back, I laugh at how it all went down for me. I also cry remembering it too. It was the hardest learning of my life and the most necessary. Like the Universe knew the whole time what was coming and sent me hints and messages throughout my life for me to course-correct, but I didn’t.
Me becoming more ‘conscious’ started with a nagging sense of being in the wrong place professionally followed by me complaining about it, knowing from a deep place inside me that I was not exactly fulfilling my full potential. Throughout my life people made comments towards what my unique gifts were and I experienced pivotal moments that suggested how I was meant to shine my light but I would waive them off as compliments, coincidences or wonderful memories that were only there to sweeten this journey called Life.
They even showed up as annoyances. My husband, Scott would always respond to my growing complaints about corporate life with “Well, when you go out on your own….” and I’d defensively shriek back at him how I never wanted that for me. That hating ‘ the man’ was his thing. I liked having ‘the man’ for a boss as well as vacations, benefits and a regular pay cheque! No way in hell I wanted the hassle of running my own show. He seemed to know something that I didn’t apparently.
There were a few times I grabbed hold of a few hints and acted on them but would ultimately lose out to inner limiting dialogue that implied I couldn’t, for many reasons…
It was too late. I was too old. I don’t know what to do. But how? I was a Mom now. What would people say? I have no idea where to start. I was already so established. It’s too hard to start over. I can’t afford to change now. If I did changed course now, how could I reconcile all the years I apparently“wasted”?
Let’s just say, the storm of emotions brought up in this place was too much to deal with, so I avoided and convinced myself that it was better to just stay the course. I told myself life wasn’t so bad in comparison to how others had it. I had so much already. To ask for more in my life or experience, was just too greedy or selfish. I’d be fine if this were all there was.
Be grateful and move on.
I couldn’t see how much comparison and gratitude kept me paralyzed – never further ahead. Just more time had passed. I think the Universe just got tired of me not ‘getting it’. I don’t blame it. I would have blown up my life too if I had to watch me flounder around too.
When I say was was living an ‘unconscious’ life, it was because I was unwilling to consider that my life was trying to get my attention to follow it’s lead. In my disconnected and mind-driven perspective I enjoyed the ride most of the time. I was going through the motions and on the surface all looked very well. I like to say I was a ‘highly functioning’ unhappy person, if that makes sense. I had enough spiritual depth to see life as a series of interwoven lessons but never considered they were indicators for ME personally to change my life direction.
Life happened TO me in this place and I dealt with it as best I could. I managed.
Looking back I see the ‘hints’ that occurred as I went through the motions, that are far to coincidental to be ignored though. It’s really quite remarkable.
For example, after high school, I wanted to earn a degree so badly but never had the money. Neither did my family. This dogged me through my twenties until I moved in with a friend who was getting her business degree at night and working during the day. Well I could do that, I thought. So, I looked into it and got the courage to ask my employer to pay for half of it. My degree completed two years later. I didn’t care that the degree was in business or more specifically, Entrepreneurial Management (ahem.. hello irony). I would dismiss this part as an unimportant detail… until now.
The timing of this degree gave me the credibility to quit my job and take an internship in Georgetown to break out of office admin and cut my teeth in online marketing. It also allowed me to explore a long distance romance, with an intriguing Aussie at the same time. Both grew into long term gigs in the end.
As far as my work, I told myself stories around what I was “suppose to do” and chose to climb the corporate ladder, make more money, get better titles, an office overlooking the downtown core etc. The more I ticked off my list, the more dissatisfied and frustrated I became. Like I was scratching an illusive itch I could never quite reach or pacify.
But I kept going …because why stop? Until the Universe got my attention.
What Pushed Me Over The Edge
My experience in Taking the Leap was not a ‘one-time daring act’ but more of a series of uninvited experiences over several years that I call “The Great Stripping Down” where the rug was pulled out from under me to discover there was no ground underneath to support my ass.
The truth was, I was meant to fall. I can see this, now.
Oprah calls them defining moments that had me riding high one day and taken out at the knees the next. They sent me down the well, like Alice in Wonderland, swirling into darkness not knowing up from down, with layers of who I was and what I was suppose to do stripped away without warning. Essentially hitting every branch on the way down.
My life felt suspended by who am I? and what am I suppose to do? for years in this process of ‘unbecoming’.
My life essentially blew up, a few times, over five years and never really went back together in quite the same way.
For anyone wanting to know how this specifically played out in real-life, here is a condensed timeline with each moment deserving its own chapter, or novel but for brevities sake they are as follows:
Finally acting on my constant meltdowns to search for a new job. Inspiration and action. My first pregnancy. Motherhood hit me like a brick wall. Where I expected tears of joy and nurturing I felt fear and confusion. Job hunt put aside to figure THIS out. Reluctant surrender to motherhood, a new identity, the unknown. Feeling my heart open to receive, finally. We shared our news with JOY. Phew. The next morning… I miscarried. This loss levelled everything I knew about myself. I lost and found myself – daily – in the abyss of this not-talked-about grief. Weeks turned into months. Longest. Miscarraige. Ever. Surgery to hit my uterus’s reset button. A fresh start, new perspectives and a rocky-esque comeback to mental and physical health. A truly JOYFUL do-over with pregnancy #2. I AM a Mom. More joy. Fully embodied, kiss-the-ground gratitude. Untouchable happiness. Next day? Laid off. Company in receivership. No severance. No income. Economic downturn and nowhere to go. No money until baby comes. Waiting. Husband in school. Months to pass. Worry. Fear. Unwanted legal battles of being sued and suing. WTF? Excruciating Limbo. Who am I now? I am Terror, Anger and Deep Gratitude in one. Finally some letting go, meltdowns, acceptance, surrender and peace. Finding my new voice in transition and my feet amongst the fear. New faith in letting go and trusting all will work out. Legal Wins and Restored Integrity. Feeling powerful. Giving birth the hard (and drawn out) way. New beginnings, new life and navigating ‘tangible’ motherhood. Who am I now? Slowing down and experiencing the present moment. Wishing I didn’t have to work at all. Getting offered my dream position and back to work I went – excited and inspired. Regular income and sweet routine. Leaving baby and missing out. Straddling two worlds. Torn. History repeats itself in slow motion. Career highs followed by familiar frustrations, dangling carrots, market crashes and economic meltdown part II. Paranoia. Impending doom. And then Deja Vu. No job, no income and PREGNANT. Profound Joy meets Bewilderment – again. Husband starts his business. Slow, frugal days. No income until baby comes. Feeling punished with more time to pass. Why, again? The coincidence was almost laughable (if it hadn’t been so scary and almost hurtful). More acceptance, trust and letting go. And then a softening. I’m tired of trying to figure it all out. REAL surrender shows up and brings a new awareness and willingness to pay attention in a different way, this time around.
It was like, just when I had time to catch my breath or take in the view, the universe would rip off another layer and send me falling and spinning again. Confusion was a regular experience. Loss at every turn. Loss of identities, conditioning, borrowed beliefs and putting myself and my needs last over the years – these things were left shredded, laying at my feet. I was left feeling naked and exposed at the bottom of a deep well wondering what the hell just happened? And why? Where am I going? And who am I going to become from all of this?
The Calm After The Storm, Forever Changed.
Like being washed onto the shore having been through the storm of my life, as I rose, I was open and ready to see things and listen on a deeper level. But what was I looking or listening for?
The very same girlfriend who beautifully delivered me to my University Degree 15 years earlier, sat with my bewildered (but willing) ass on my couch and blurted an unexpected message that would change the course of my life (again).
“Remember how you loved coaching when we lived together? Why don’t you finally look into it?” she said.
(She recently told me how surprised SHE was when she spoke these words too.)
My initial response was to look at her as if she had sprouted three heads. Her words caught me off guard. I hadn’t spoken about coaching to anyone since then. I had followed and admired the work of great life coaches like Iyanla Vanzant, Rhonda Britten, Oprah,Tony Robbins and other insightful thought leaders on my own time but in my mind – and at this point – it was a hobby if anything. In fact, I had totally forgotten I ever wanted to do this at all. I hadn’t considered it as a profession and didn’t even really know what a life coach did or how they were trained.
When her words hit me, it was as if I had someone nudging me from the inside whispering “Pay attention Keri-Anne, we are trying to reach you. LISTEN!!”
Her words reminded me of what came naturally to me already which was helping people. She showed me something I was good at. And I knew she was right. So this time, I listened and knowing I could have chose modesty, dismiss it and do nothing (be polite) – I decided to take a deep breath and say,
“Okay. I will.”
Being Sucked Into The Flow of Life
An hour later I hestitantly mentioned her words to my husband Scott and from his response (and everything else that followed), I KNEW I was being guided. It was like I had opened the floodgates to receive the biggest care package the Universe was holding for me… until I was ready. I had no idea how much stuff it had been holding for me nor was I prepared for the speed at which it would come. It went like this…
Scott asked if he could introduce me to a coach he ‘just met’ the day before. Apparently she was amazing. He was right. She led me to my future coach to experience this mysterious profession. Working with him I reconnect to myself, sorted through the rubble that remained and began building my life from scratch. I was reborn. I wanted everything to change though – my health, my job, my outlook. It was nuts. A total whirlwind of a-ha moments and insights that blew my own mind. I was hooked on watching my true self emerge bigger and bigger with every week and couldn’t wait to meet more people like me. So my training began.
I had never been so inspired, driven and in it to WIN it because the stakes were high. I needed to figure this shit out, NOW.
I had two small kids and a year (of maternity leave) to give this a shot… or go back to my corporate life. It wasn’t going to be easy though. I had to ask for help from everyone in my life to make this happen. I was travelling to my coach training with a breast pump under one arm and healthy food packed on ice under the other. I was filled with a determination I had never felt before. (can you hear the Rocky Theme playing???? It was loud and my daily anthem.)
Six months later I completed my training, was 40 lbs lighter and had a fire inside me that lit my life up from the inside out. People could see it in and would ask what the hell I was doing. I was alive and electric. I decided to take it a step further and get certified but worried about the cost. Just when we thought we couldn’t financially swing the investment, money showed up out of the blue to carry us through.
At times the synchronicities that occurred felt like I was on a candid camera show. Looking for the cameras or saying “is this for real”? For a lack of better words to describe it…
Life became magical.
The more willing I became, the more my life opened up – new ideas, new opportunities falling into my lap, new connections and I was committed to making decisions in a new way – based on how they felt rather than if they made sense or not. My mind took a backseat and my heart led the charge. Before I knew it, I was daring myself to do anything that hooked my interests and enthusiasm (and not care if I failed at them). I let go of any attachment I had to winning or losing and gave more importance to acting on my intuition and heart. I gave myself the chance to really live and try new things. No mistakes. Just experiences to gather and learning.
And thus, my personal and professional mantra was born. Daring to Suck.
From here, my life really caught fire and so did my business even though I had no website or business cards. I got my first few clients effortlessly and this baffled me. There weren’t a lot of them but they came without me needing to do very much at all.
Could it really be this easy?
Apparently, in some ways it really is. If we let it.
The easy part only happened when I gave myself permission to live in a totally different way, more in my heart than my head. I made new agreements with myself. Like being as real and as true to myself as possible which meant telling on myself when I was in new territory or crapping myself when I was swinging out beyond what I knew to be possible – even to my clients. My mind said they would walk out of my life, think I was a joke or worse… but the opposite happened.
The more open I was, the more people wanted to hear and even work with me. I dared myself to be who I was at my core, underneath all the roles and “shoulds” I covered it up with over the years.
Those layers were long gone anyway (blown up in the fire) and I felt as close to me as I ever had. It was beyond empowering.
Behind The Curtain
It was and IS scary at times. I have no idea how things are going to turn out…still. But I now I know it’s suppose to be like this. Living isn’t about comfort or security, it’s about fully being in the experience of life, connected to our uniqueness and expressing it in whatever form. It just means getting more comfortable with messy and uncertainty.
Not an easy task, but worth it.
Two years after that epic conversation on my couch, I am finally living the life I was intended to live. I finally showed up.
I LOVE the work I do and I don’t like having my own business. I detest the paperwork, the external pressure and noise from others doing ‘this’ or ‘that’ (comparison vortex) or the structure that’s required to do this ‘properly’. Some days I buy into the noise, break down feeling tired and exposed wishing I didn’t have to promote my heart and souls work. Other days I’m a fountain overflowing with inspiration bursting and I can’t hold back what’s inside and it flows.
I’m here because I know I have no other option.
My life is my work in many ways. It challenges me to expand, be vulnerable and do the very work I challenge my clients to do, and share it as openly as possible – and it should be this way. I think it makes me better at what I do. It’s made me a more connected Mom, a more passionate and confident partner. It’s incredible.
My Life Today
Today, I build my business as a Certified Coach, Speaker and Author-in-Progress as best I can. MY way.
After just one year of becoming fully certified, I have more clients than I ever expected to have and receiving exciting (and hilarious) requests to speak to Buddhist Ministers, Realtors and Professional Moms about Daring to Suck. I’m here because I chose to follow my heart and not return to the perceived security and cozy routine of a path I invested over 12 years to. That was hard, but not as hard as it was to stay stuck and unhappy.
My two boys, age 2 and 5, are growing bigger (and louder) everyday and I’m on-my-knees grateful that I do work that allows me the flexibility to have a front row seat to witness these precious years. I’m a happier and more present mom which means slowing down to experience it ALL (highs and lows) which is far from glamorous or composed on a good day, but it’s fulfilling as hell.
Together, Scott and I designed a system to keeping our family afloat that we are pretty proud of. Both of us are Entrepreneurs now and instead of striving to work full time, we alternate our workdays and work three FULL days a week. While one of us parents – the other works. We basically cram as much as we can into our ‘work’ day when it’s our turn. Right up until Sunday, when we get together as a family and connect.
Sometimes leaving before the other’s awake and coming home after the other is asleep. Sometimes it feels like we haven’t connected for days. We do our best to stay connected through texts, phone calls during nap time, impromptu picnics or family lunch dates in between clients or sometimes cancelling our workday to enjoy the fading days of summer. Because we can. We don’t pay for childcare and design our days and weeks to be whatever we want or need them to be. It’s pretty cool. We feel blessed.
Life is far from routine or predictable and the money isn’t always steady (or what I was use to) so when I am tired or worn down, I fall prey to panicking about “how” we will manage in the future but then one of us remembers the truth – that we have everything we need right now. And that’s what’s important. When you’ve been stripped down bare a few times, you get to this place a lot quicker than if you haven’t. We know there are days ahead to make more money or spend more time getting more clients or building our businesses. Whereas, right now we are fully living in our life, experiencing our kids and feeling abundance in all forms. Not just financially. We are free to make the choices we need to create the life we want.
Bottom line. Although I got here kicking and screaming, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I am living my definition of Freedom, which is to fully express and BE myself in practically everything I do. Better yet, I get to help people in the process, learn and grow at the same time and earn a living doing it. I mean, really???!!
Most days, I feel like I live a charmed life and my mind never thought this was possible. Thank God for my heart and paying attention.
All of this may sound very woo-woo to some and I guess it is… but the more I live this life and do this work, the more woo-woo I become.
For Anyone Wanting To Take THE LEAP
First of all, you already know there is something not working in your life, so the way I see it – you have two choices:
1. Get honest with yourself, admit where you are, how you feel, dare to take conscious and vulnerable action and essentially blow up your own life. BOOM!
2. Wait for the Universe to blow it up for you.
Standing on the other side of a life officially “blown up” (knowing there are more necessary explosions to come), I am 100% convinced that these moments happen FOR us to realign our missteps and get us back ‘on track’ to where the inside matches the outside. In my experience, the only way THROUGH is in totally vulnerability – to be real, in all it’s forms and be loved for it, by our self first.
Whatever you choose to leap into (or away from), know you are NOT alone. You are courageous. Do your best to celebrate as you go… celebrate who you are becoming as well as who you’ve “un-become”.
Celebrate it all.
If you’re on the verge of taking the leap to quit your job, but aren’t quite sure you have what it takes, I invite you to check out more of these inspiring stories by going to the Taking the Leap resource, where you will have access to some other stories just like this one.