“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” Epictetus
WORKING FOR THE WRONG PEOPLE, DOING THE WRONG THINGS, FOR THE WRONG REASONS:
In my former life, I worked for the wrong people, doing the wrong things, for all the wrong reasons.
For fifteen years I slaved in the insurance industry earning six figures pushing an intangible product.
Let me confess this right now: Never once during my childhood did I declare “One day I dream of sitting in a cubicle and selling paper called insurance.”
Selling insurance was meaningless to me. And the people at the company I worked for were not the kind that I would ever spend time with on the weekends. I didn’t fit in with them.
Why did I waste the best years of my life working in the wrong job?
Because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. The money was damn good. And at the time I didn’t know that it was possible to do what made you happy for a living. I really just didn’t know.
Fast forward to now. I am living my dream life doing what I love. I earn my living by sharing my husband’s art with people that enjoy it, I get to write about the things I’m passionate about and I travel anytime I want.
Here’s the ironic part: I’m not earning the six figures that I did when I sold insurance. But my life is so much richer.
(Update: A few years after writing this blog post in 2010, we surpassed six figures and way beyond.)
BREAKING THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE (OUT OF THE CORPORATE WORLD):
When I met Drew in 1996, he taught me that you can create the life you dream of. It took years for me to put that idea into action for myself, because it just seemed too good to be true.
Before our wedding day in June 2000, we wrote out what we wanted our lives to look like. It was simple:
Have a family business, surf when we want, travel the world visiting friends and family, and have a child that goes everywhere with us.
There was only one thing that held us back from that dream life: My corporate job.
Drew had been begging me for years to work with him full-time. “It will be great, Maria. All of our energy and work will be for our family.”
I kept telling him “Maybe next year.” I was afraid to leave the money, the health benefits and the paid four week vacation.
It was fear that held me to a job that I didn’t love.
Finally, a fight with a boss gave me the courage to quit. The Vice-President at the insurance firm was a misogynist and criticized my every move.
One day he tried to embarrass me in front of my colleagues. Until then I had taken abuse from him for many years. But on this day, I had enough. I held my ground and intelligently told him off in front of everyone. His eyes bugged out of his head, fists pounding on the table! How dare a woman stand up to him like this! He threw a temper tantrum and stormed out of the meeting.
The next day I resigned. Drew danced around the room when I told him that I finally quit the “job” and was now going to do work that I was meant to do.
(If I ever see that Vice President again, I’m going to shake his hand and thank him for pushing me into the wonderful life I now have!)
STARTING FROM NOTHING
Going from six figures to zero was hard for me. I need money and security to feel content. I don’t do well with uncertain cash flow!
However, I committed to making it work. I had no choice – it had to work.
My new job was to expand on the marketing and sales of Drew Brophy’s artwork. Drew had been a professional artist his entire life, so he was already earning enough to support himself. My task was to increase that income to supplement mine!
This is where the adventure began. I had no road-map, so I had to figure it out myself.
WHAT YOU FOCUS ON EXPANDS
We focused on expanding original art sales as well as the licensing of Drew’s artwork. I signed up for LIMA’s one-year Licensing Academy program and got educated on art licensing.
We exhibited at the License show, sent out quarterly postcard mailers, and I made weekly sales calls to our target companies.
Slowly, we added to our licensing deals and Drew’s original art sales increased.
With me handling all of the business, Drew was able to focus entirely on painting.
With better planning, and the two of us completely focused on our business, we made great strides.
OUR DREAM LIFE
The day I quit working in the wrong job was the day we started living our dream lifestyle.
It might seem crazy, but six months after I quit my job (and we were essentially broke), we took a month long vacation in Australia. Drew insisted that “This is the life we want to live. What are we waiting for?”
We took Dylan, who was just a toddler at the time, and explored the coastline of Australia. Drew found work painting surfboards in Byron Bay, and we met surfers who hooked us up with their vacation homes for free.
Since then, every year we take a month or two to explore parts of the world that we haven’t been.
I’ve learned not to worry about the money – it all works itself out. (As long as you’re smart about it…but that’s another post for another day…)
MAKE ROOM FOR WHAT YOU WANT
You cannot have what you want when you put energy into the things you don’t want.
Let’s say you dream of being married, but you’re with the wrong person. Every day that you spend with the wrong person, you’re cutting off your chances of meeting the right person.
The same logic goes with working in a job that you don’t love. Every day that you waste in that job, you are putting off doing what you do love. You are missing out on honing your skills and possibly even be killing a creative part of you that is meant to be.
HOW TO BREAK THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE
If you’re stuck doing the wrong job for the wrong people and you yearn for a happier, healthier lifestyle, plan your escape!
Life is too long to be living a lifestyle that you don’t want to live.
What you do, every day, is what makes you who you are. (I chose to be the traveling surfer girl rather than the insurance person!)
Here are some steps to help you:
- DECIDE what it is you want to be doing. If you aren’t sure, take notice of the things you love, things you’re good at, and what you’re drawn to.
- LEARN about how others are doing what you want to do. The internet is a cornucopia of information; find blogs and articles to help in your research.
- DROP THE FEAR and allow nothing to hold you back. Fear is the bane of all great things…
- PLAN your escape! Do it in steps, or do it NOW. Or pray to be laid off. Sometimes that’s a blessing in disguise.
- COMMIT yourself to your plan.
- ENJOY your life immensely.
Please let me know in the comments what problem you may have had with “breaking through”, or if you have successfully created a life you love, share how you did it!
This blog post is one part of six on this topic. Please visit the other five entries by these elite bloggers, who also “broke through to the other side”:
(To learn more about how to “break through” and live your dream life, stay tuned for my e-book titled LIVING THE DREAM – BREAK FREE FROM THE STATUS QUO AND CREATE YOUR DREAM LIFE. If you sign up for my Awesome Newsletter, you’ll get a copy of it for free!)