When we stay open to possibility (instead of letting fear guide our choices), we experience more joy, meaning and purpose than we ever imagined— both in life and business.
This is not a theory I’m sharing to make you feel good. I’ve personally lived the truth of it. In this blog I’ll share some of my own “adventures” and tips for how you can open new possibilities in your own life (and make a healthy living at the same time).
My favorite quote is from John Kenneth Galbraith:
The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.
I discovered this quote in 1998 when I had already:
- Given up my high-powered corporate career.
- Closed my 6-figure marketing communications business.
- Sold off most of my belongings.
- Left the big city for a self-funded one-year sabbatical with my toddler.
I was determined to live a more creative life, even though I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant or what my next career would be. The only way to find time for the “painful job of thinking,” was to step off the expensive hamster wheel I was running on and dramatically cut my cost of living.
Having only lived in major cities up until that point, moving to a tiny island on the opposite end of the country took me utterly out of my comfort zone. The only person I “knew” was the local real estate agent I’d discovered online 3 months before.
Taking a leap or coming undone by a cord of wood
About a week into our move I remembered how months earlier sitting in the relative comfort of my big city house, I had read the quote “Leap and the net shall appear.” After taking a pretty huge leap, there I was in my country kitchen having a minor panic attack realizing there was no flipping net!
What did I know about septic systems and wells? How come I didn’t recognize half the items in the hardware catalog even though this was my third property? Who knew that living in the country with no street lights and no neighbors to hear you scream would seem really scary in the middle of the night?
It was only my own resistance to change triggering all these random negative thoughts and fears.
The locals told me I’d need a cord of wood to keep me warm during the many power failures that would occur that winter. They’d shake their heads and tell me I was probably too late to get any dry wood for the season. Looking back I realize this was probably how they liked to scare the “city folk,” but at the time I just accepted their warnings as helpful advice.
I had never played the “helpless single mom” card and I wasn’t about to start. I was too embarrassed to tell them I had no idea what a cord of wood was!
I had no idea how many cords I’d need, how big a stack it would be, where one would get it, or how long it would take to pile it all up once dumped on my property.
Perhaps my Internet wasn’t installed, or Wikipedia didn’t yet exist, because it took me exactly 2 seconds just now to learn that a cord takes up 4 feet x 4 feet x 8 feet. I don’t know how I could have possibly stacked it on my own, unless I turned it into a week-long project. I was on my own with a 3-year old (who couldn’t be left to wander off into our “forest”) and I’m only 5’1″ tall!
These were only some of the many challenges of our first months “in the middle of nowhere”, but we muddled through.
Actually one of my favorite memories of that year was our first power failure.
I baked potatoes wrapped in foil in the fireplace, roasted hot dogs on sticks and after dinner we went outside to look at more stars than we had ever seen. What kid wouldn’t love that more than eating dinner with a nanny and having 20 minutes with an over-tired, distracted and cranky mom before bedtime?
Was giving up my previous life and moving to the opposite end of the country radical? It really depends on your point of view and how much you’ve “followed the rules” in your own life.
It was definitely radical for me then but I also kept thinking, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I don’t like it?” Or put another way, “Really what do I have to lose?”
While I anticipated staying on the island, we moved once I realized a year-round rural lifestyle isn’t for me. How wonderful to have learned this by the age of 40 instead of spending another 20 or 25 years fantasizing about living in the country when I retired.
Many of my fondest memories are from that year and I’ve never regretted the decision to move there or give up my marketing communications business, even though it didn’t turn out how I expected.
In fact, it set me on a path that’s taken me to where I am today— with more meaningful work, more free time and higher income even though I’m finally earning a living from my creativity.
Other than becoming a parent, most other choices are reversible.
If we take a job we don’t like, we can quit. If we marry the wrong person we can get a divorce. If we start a business and it fails, we’ll have learned something along the way that will help us in our next venture.
What “radical” next step are you thinking about for your own life? Please share your comments or questions so that together we can grow an inspiring and supportive community dedicated to more possibility for all of us!