There is a Confucius saying that gets thrown around a lot: "If you chose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life." This quote used to make me roll my eyes and cringe. Don't we live in a world of the corporate grind? The concrete rat race? Where our career journey is uphill both ways?
These were the parameters by which I used to live my life. I used to think that, relatively speaking, I had it pretty good. I worked in finance as an equity trader and had big apartment in the nicest area of town, a luxury car and a stacked closet. On the outside, I had all the material possessions society says we should be striving for. But on the inside I felt empty, and couldn't help but wonder what the point of it all was. I was interested in my job but not inspired by it. I made a good paycheck but was not passionate. I filled a position but not a purpose. But the golden handcuffs and cushy corporate life is hard to walk away from, especially when the other option is the unlit path of uncertainty. Personally, I didn't have the courage to cut the chord. Luckily for me however, the universe has a way of getting us to pay attention to its greater calling for us in life. At first we hear the soft voice in the back of our head gently trying to turn us in another direction. And then if we don't listen, a firmer hand will come down to deliver the message. For me, that was getting laid off, the best day of my life! I remember walking out onto the street after being informed that my position was no longer available and despite the fear, betrayal and shock of the event, I could palpably feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I breathed in the fresh air, tasting its freedom for the first time in years, felt the warmth of the sun on my face despite the cool bite of the winter air and knew that I was about to start out in a new direction.
The only problem with my newfound unexpected freedom was actually figuring out what to do next. With five years on a trading desk under my belt, I wasn't qualified for much else from a corporate perspective. Not to mention the claustrophobia the thought of cubicles created. So I decided to take some time to myself. I did some odd jobs in fashion and moved to London for a few months, where I took a fashion course and continued to wait for my "ah-ha" moment to be divinely downloaded. The only problem was that after a year of soul-searching and patiently waiting for my instructions from the universe on what to do next, it never came. Panic started to set in (not to mention pressure from my parents due to my apparent lack of direction), and I decided to move to New York, fall back on finance and start looking for another job in the markets. Reluctantly putting my corporate heels back on my feet, I hit the pavement and started networking. With every interview I went to, every office I walked through, I felt a growing pit in my stomach. This time, I listened.
For me, it wasn't an "ah-ha" moment that sparked a courageous leap into entrepreneurship. I had been thinking about an idea for a woman's undershirt line for years, basically since I started wearing the corporate uniform of cashmere cardigans, silk tops and wool dresses -- all dry clean only, which meant hefty dry cleaning bills on a regular basis -- but I had never taken any action towards making my idea a reality. I didn't take that first step toward following my passion and building the life I want to live until I finally started to listen to my intuition and trust that I had what it takes and would get the support from the universe that I needed to make it a reality. I believe all of us have ideas on ways we could make current products or services better or perform differently. The roadblock often forms when we entrap ourselves in the problem of what to actually do about it. It seems overwhelming and impossible. But really, all it takes to get started -- to get your dream off the ground -- is simply asking "what if..." and taking that first small step forward.
What is that small voice in the back of your head softly telling you to do? What is one small thing you can do today to start towards it? Everything from a simple Google search to attending a networking event or setting up an info meeting with someone who is already living a life that resonates with you will start moving you in the right direction. Share in the comments below! Once you put it out into the universe, its already started to happen...