I love that mantra. But turns out it’s easier said than done.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling like I’m at cross roads. After four and a half months of Vanlife, it was time to make a decision about what’s next. More specifically, I had to decide if I want to go back to working full-time or if I would walk away from that opportunity for good. And if so, what I would do instead.
Even though I’ve been working as a Marketing Contractor for a number of years now, I was working full-time for one business most of last year (plus a few others gigs on the side). When I decided live and travel in my van for a while, the business was super supportive and enabled me to work remotely for about 10-15 hours per week. I’m incredible grateful that they gave me this opportunity but also completely understand that it’s not a long term solution for them. For the role that I have, they need someone full-time in the office. I had to decide if I wanted to be that person.
It’s been on my mind for weeks and I swayed between yes and no on a daily basis. I just couldn’t figure out what would be the right thing to do.
Would walking away from the job be fearless or stupid?
Until a chance encounter gave me the clarity I needed. I don’t know if you believe in faith and destiny but I definitely think I was meant to meet this person!
A few weeks ago I connected with a woman via Facebook. We are both part of a Facebook group of surfer girls and a post she made really resonated with me so I got in touch. I’ve never before contacted a random person on Facebook just because what they were saying resonated with me and I can’t really tell you why I did this time – I guess it was just meant to be.
After a few messages back and forth we both went quiet but when I found myself in the area she lives in with some spare time on my hands I reached out. Again, something I usually wouldn’t do. I was on my way to Auckland and I knew the next few days would be busy so usually I would have preferred to get some quiet ‘me-time’. But that day something made me reach out. And I’m so glad I did.
I got to meet with an incredible inspiring women who is putting everything she has into helping other people. She has a passion and vision for helping others and is willing to take huge personal risks to make it happen – because she knows in her heart she is doing the right thing and that if she follows her heart everything else will fall into place.
Listening to her talk about how and why she made the jump away from the security of a ‘normal’ job towards following her passion gave me the inspiration and perspective I needed to make my own decision.
Most of the time over the last few weeks I was leaning towards going back to full-time work (or at least four days a week). I really like the business and I’ve already invested a lot into it. I’m excited about the opportunity the business has and I was worried that if I walk away now, I would regret it later if the business becomes really successful. But even though my head was saying yes, I always felt a hesitation. I couldn’t really put my finger on it but somehow deciding to go back didn’t really feel right.
I didn’t know if going back to a regular job would be the right thing or just the safe thing to do.
On top of that, I didn’t really know what else I wanted to do.
I remember a few months ago I said to a friend that I have this feeling that there is something else in the cards for me. Something else I’m supposed to be or do and that it would find me if I make the space and am open to it. But that was months ago and I was still no closer to figuring out what that something would be.
I love to write and I’ve been thinking a lot about how amazing it would be to make a living through writing. But whenever I would say out loud ‘I want to be a writer’ it didn’t give me that feeling of excitement, clarity and content that you get when you’re 100% on the right track. It was like I was almost there but something was still missing.
And so with all of that going on in my head, I found myself sipping my coffee across from this incredible person who is willing to risk it all for her values, believes and passion and I asked myself what’s holding me back from doing the same thing?
I really like my work but I also know it’s not my passion right now. It’s not what I really want to do.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the thing that was holding me back was fear! Turns out I wasn’t quite living my new ‘Be fearless’ mantra yet. I didn’t really want to go back to full-time work. I just thought I should! I was craving the financial security. The thought of having regular income makes me feel safe and feels like the responsible thing to do. In New Zealand right now, not a month goes by without some big story in the media about how we need to save more for retirement, how the majority of people are at risk of living in poverty when they are old because they haven’t saved enough, how government pensions will only get smaller over time…
But what is it all for?
What’s the point of financial security if you’re not happy, if you’re not following your heart?
I don’t want to live like that!
It might be the right path for some people, maybe even the majority. Maybe chasing money and promotions, big houses and lots of stuff is what makes the majority of people happy (I doubt it but it’s not for me to judge). But I know that’s not me. I know that time and freedom will always be more important to me than money.
I’m not naïve. There is a reason the second part of my mantra is ‘Don’t be stupid’. I know money makes the world go round. And I want to be part of that society. I want to contribute through tax I pay, investments I make and by spending money on things that matter to me. But I know I can do that without spending 40-50 hours a week in an office.
I realised I’m the one who is creating the fear that’s holding me back.
And there is no good reason to. I’m not rich but I’m also not gonna starve if I don’t have regular income for a while. Now is the time to take risks while there is still plenty of time to change again if I need to!
And I guess it was a two-for-one day because meeting this amazing woman also helped me realise what I really want to do, what I’m really passionate about.
She asked me what I would love to do and I said I want to be a writer (without really feeling like that’s the right answer). She asked if there would be a way for me to write more as part of my work. There totally is (I work in marketing after all) but it made me realise that is not the kind of writing I want to do. And without really thinking about it I just responded from the heart and said:
“what I really want to do is inspire people through my writing”.
The moment I said I knew that’s it! I immediately felt that sense of energy and inspiration and excitement that I’d been looking for. It was like the curtain had lifted and the answer was there. I don’t want to be just a writer. I want write about things that inspire people to see things differently, to be open to new ideas, to take risk, to follow their dreams. I want to inspire people to live life their way – whatever that means. Writing is the best way I know how to do that right now so I want to invest more time into that and do something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a teenager: Write a book. I’m not really ready to talk about the details, but it will be a book about Happiness :)
It’s still a bit scary. I still worry about the financial side of things at times. I worry about failing, about not being able to actually write the book or that I do and it sucks. I worry about being judged by others who don’t understand my choices and values. I worry about things not working out and having to go back into a lifestyle I don’t really want. I’m human, I worry.
But I’m doing it! I swallowed my fear and closed my eyes and jumped. I gave myself permission to follow my heart. I gave myself permission to take the risk, to use some of my savings to follow my passion, to invest time into writing my book without knowing what will come of it. I told my boss that I won’t be coming back. It was hard, mostly because I feel like I’m letting people down. But the second I said it, this weight fell of my shoulders and I knew I was doing the right thing.
I closed my eyes and jumped and it feels amazing.
Now I'm just hoping this is what being fearless feels like and not what being stupid feels like ;)