I've always been a seeker –– of experiences, adventure, knowledge, and personal growth. I read books like What Color is Your Parachute (how many of you remember that one?), did all of the personality assessments (from Myers Briggs to Strengths Finder and everything in between), signed up for all of the development opportunities provided by my employers, attended conferences, attained certifications, took classes - you get the idea. It came as no surprise that two of my strengths from Strengths Finder were "Learner - you love to learn" and "Input - You are inquisitive...yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting."
Much of my seeking 10-15 years ago was to find my life’s work. I wanted to follow my passion, find my purpose, and make a difference in the world. That's what we're supposed to do with our lives, right?
What I want to tell you about today are those things that I wish someone had told me would happen when I actually did it...when I left the well-worn path to take the road less traveled. When I walked away from a career in Human Resources (HR) that took 18 years to build to follow my heart and pursue my passion of helping others on the journey to happier, healthier lives.
Here are five things that I wish I had known.
That it would be hard and take a long time - I was an expert at my work in HR. There were some skills that transferred to my new line of work, but there were many more things that I needed to learn, develop, and struggle through. It might be rewarding to do what you love, but it's certainly not easy! Some things came naturally, like teaching, but others, like marketing and video editing (who knew I would need to do so much video production in my new pursuit - thanks COVID!) were entirely new to me. My new business wasn't an overnight success, and is growing slower than I hoped.
How often the dream would evolve - while I had many ideas of how I wanted to help people in my new endeavor, I wasn't sure which one would be the most effective, or desired by the people I wanted to serve. I started with health coaching, shifted to focus more on yoga, then decided to build a retreat center, and recently realized that holistic wellness was a better idea. I'm sure Firefly will continue to evolve. The one constant is change!
That I would miss aspects of my previous work - HR was stressful work, but there were plenty of good things about working on a team, and having a cohesive professional community, resources, and associations. I made most of my friends in Colorado through my work environment after moving here not knowing anyone. I had a manager who could provide me with support, and point me to the right place when I needed help solving a problem. I enjoyed the feeling of a specific task/project being completed. Those things don't happen much when you're a solopreneur.
That it would feel lonely at times - Being a business of one means that most of the time, I'm working alone. I get to interact with people when I teach yoga classes, and when I'm networking, but when working "in" the business day-to-day, I don't have anyone else to collaborate with, share ideas, or take a break to chit-chat about plans for the weekend. I sometimes miss the camaraderie of "we're all in this together" that you get when working on a team. Also, most of my friends work "regular" jobs, so when I'm free in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, my friends are not available to hang out.
How often I would second-guess myself - People tell me that I'm brave to have followed my dream, but somedays I feel like it was crazy to walk away from a career where I had so much success to start all over in something that is unpredictable and volatile. A large part of Firefly's business is retreats (travel), and we all know how that's doing right now. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that the spreadsheets that I pore over now are related to retreat profitability and not paying out bonuses to other people, but there are days that I wonder if I really have what it takes to grow a successful business. It helps to take time to celebrate the wins –– no matter how small.
My intention in sharing this with you isn't to discourage you from following your passion, but to provide a realistic view –– it's not all butterflies and unicorns. As with any endeavor that means something, pursuing your purpose is hard. But is it worth it? For me, the answer is YES.
If you feel something churning inside, just waiting to burst, find ways to let it bubble up and enter into your life. Explore what it feels like to do the work that is calling you. Ask yourself if it's something you'll still want to do when you're pouring your heart into it and not getting paid. And by all means, if the answer is "Hell, yeah," go for it! If not, find ways to inject more passion and purpose into the work that you're doing now.