Over a year ago, I resigned my successful and lucrative role with a global Fortune 50 company to pursue my passion for writing full-time. Although I realize that dreaming about pursuing one's passions isn't unique, the willingness to put everything on the line to actually do it is — and with good reason. It's not a game out here in these entrepreneurial streets. If you're already out here or considering taking that leap, I offer up, in full transparency, the 17 phases of my transition from corporate professional to full-time creative: Photo: NaomiTeneAustin.com
1. VulnerabilityTo be perfectly clear, I'm not sharing this from a place of mastery or authority. I'm still very much in the building phase of my writing career, and although I know that the underdog narrative is usually told from the perspective of its triumphant ending, I don't yet know how this will end nor do I have the benefit of hindsight to color this experience with rose-colored tint. I'm not some wise sage or all-knowing guru with the answer on how to “do life” or realize one's dreams. What I am is a creative empath with a passion for words and humanity, and a talent for recognizing, articulating and stimulating greatness in others. This is my experience, in real time, as I find my way on this journey in pursuit of purpose. So even as my ego rails against the notion of exposing myself at this juncture, I recognize that this is precisely the reason that I must. Well, that and this overbearing internal exhibitionist of a hype woman. Photo: reactiongifs
Who hasn't fantasized about what they would do if given the opportunity, if they had the freedom, if they weren't afraid? This is the part where you decide if you're going to keep if-ing or if you're going to take that leap of faith. There is no wrong answer. It's about what works for you.
3. LoveThis process ain't for the faint of heart, so if you're going to do it, then you'd better be in love with it. Simply put, I love to write. Not sometimes write, not hobby write, but write-for-my-life write. When I pour my whole self into writing, wonderful and inexplicable things happen. Platforms present themselves, the content resonates with people and audiences shows up. Writing is what I was created to do. "So, why on earth would I ever want to stifle that?" asks my instinct. Photo: tumblr
4. Conflict"Because it's completely irrational," answers logic. Herein lies the conflict. I am not naive to the fact that forgoing that coveted rung on the corporate ladder in pursuit of something as precarious as writing sounds crazy. I have endured countless we're concerned looks from my tribe of well-meaning loved ones, and trust me when I tell you that no one is more concerned about my life than I am.
5. PerspectiveHaving worked in HR management for some very successful corporations, I have had a hand in shutting down major facilities and laying off hundreds of people. Folks who put in their time, checked all the boxes and did everything right. This experience taught me that the notion of job security is an illusion. Everything, save faith, is a gamble. I happen to believe that we are all endowed with purpose — a special gift that is uniquely ours — and it is our job to operate in that calling. I believe this so much hat I'm willing to bet my life on it. Photo: wifflegif.com
6. AltruismWhen you have that "wake up in the middle of the night, work at it at 4 a.m., dedicate every weekend to it" kind of passion, you know that the gift is bigger than you. You are a small part of a much larger picture. The whole team benefits when everyone plays their position.
7. HonestyBecause society assigns significance to certain roles, I spent a lot of time pursuing goals that weren't even my own. In my former career I strategically positioned myself for promotion every couple of years. My perception of career success hinged on incremental advancement in a corporate environment so I worked hard, got on my grind and bossed up whether I wanted it or not. I was on auto-pilot. I had to get truthful with myself about why I was doing what I was doing.
8. IndividualityThe best answer I could come up with was, "this is just what people do." I had to blow up my entire hierarchical concept of success and embrace the fact that I might not fit into that template. That mold might not work for me. Not wanting what other people want doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, it just means you're YOU. Relax...Individuality is okay. Photo: sourlemonz.com
9. AudacityThere's usually a social penalty for taking the road less traveled, but if you want to be successful, you can't worry about what anyone thinks. Put on your game face, gather your cocky fresh and prepare to go HARD! Photo: tumblr
10. GrindThe grind is real, my dude...I'm talking laser beam focus, AM to PM, no days off, get out there and hustle - REAL. A year, five months, several bylines, one blog launch and an LLC later and I'm still out here grinding like Kerm hyped up on triple-caff boosted tea. Photo: reddit
11. ProgressWithout itemizing the miraculous sequence of events, provisions and opportunities that have unfolded since leaving my job over a year ago, I'll just say that supernatural things happen when you fully engage in pursuit of purpose.
12. MomentumAs momentum builds, people and partnerships perfectly aligned with the vision will begin to appear at precisely the right moments. Opportunities and platforms start to pour in from nowhere. It is the most amazing and exciting feeling to witness the dream taking form. Photo: tumblr
13. InventoryAs you start to accumulate wins, be sure to pause and absorb these moments. Breath them in. Celebrate! You're going to need them to get you through the murkier periods. Taking periodic inventory of your progress will affirm that you made the right decision and strengthen your resolve to take your grind to the next level.
14. DoubtDon't get it twisted. It's not all glitter and fairy dust. It's a constant tug of war between ego and purpose, optimism and practicality, complete confidence and debilitating insecurity that can be utterly maddening. You might want to warn your loved ones to prepare for a tad bit of neediness. Get a solid support team in position. You're going to need them.
15. Identity crisisI was shocked at how much of my identity and esteem were based in my career. I had not accounted for the effect that not being on call, not having anyone depend on me for business results, not having to check up on my locations or not being a boss would have on me. I missed the importance of my position, but channeling that energy into my own goals helped me to move beyond it.
16. DetoursFlexibility is mandatory. No matter how well-mapped your plan is, there's no template for purpose. There will be dips, curves and collisions that you never saw coming. You're going to make mistakes, really awkward and embarrassing ones...and you'll accumulate some rejections along the way. Expect the unexpected. Your plan will evolve and evolve and evolve some more.