My heart was pounding. It was time to make a decision. Left or right, now or never. I closed my eyes, took a big breath, and jumped.
I was walking away from a satisfying and lucrative career in the voice-over industry and taking a HUGE gamble on something that I could hardly even say out loud without squirming a bit— life coaching.
Was I crazy?!? Had I lost my mind?!?
(A little bit. What I did was nuts. I would NEVER advise someone to do what I did. And yet…)
Fast forward five years. I have to tell you, all the good things in my life right now can be traced directly to making that shift. My financial situation, the work I love, the amazing clients I get to work with, my peers and colleagues and community, even meeting the love of my life– they all grew out of that decision.
Even though I had many terrifying months of wondering how I was going to make it all work, worrying about money, and trying thing after thing that failed, I’ve never regretted striking out in that new direction toward my own heart and my life’s true work.
And yet I tell people on a regular basis that leaping isn’t always the right thing to do. I’m a big fan of baby steps, easing in, and trying things out.
So how do you know if, and when, it’s time to make a big change in your life?
Well if you’re me, you usually have to be backed into a corner. That was certainly the case when I had my own personal moment of truth five years ago and radically shifted my career trajectory.
Sometimes a big turbulent event (in my case, a massive earthquake) seems like a blessing in disguise, because it pushes you to the point of having no CHOICE about making a choice. But I promise, that’s waaay more fun to read about than to experience, and if I can give you one piece of advice, it’s this:
If you feel a change brewing in you, take proactive action on your own instead of waiting for the universe to force your hand.
But how did I know I was making the right decision? I didn’t. I was taking a calculated risk. But this part is important– it was a calculated risk. As crazy as it was, it wasn’t a total gamble. My decision was grounded in some deeply considered factors, both tangible and intangible.
First, the practical considerations:
- This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo. I’d made big and dramatic life shifts before, and I knew that sometimes immense risks paid off bigtime.
- I had worked for myself for over a decade. I knew how to HUSTLE and I knew how to be disciplined about getting work done even without a boss or external deadlines.
- I was willing to make sacrifices, including moving into a tiny one-bedroom apartment with my daughter.
- I wasn’t jumping into a fantasy; I’d been a coach for two years and had taught a few classes that had been well received and well attended. So I knew (based on evidence, not just my own belief) that I had information and skills that could help people.
- In spite of the dramatic moment of choice, I’d actually eased in gradually. My life coaching was a side hustle that I did on the side for nearly two years before I went full time.
- I lined up serious support and accountability for myself by hiring a big-time business coach.
Those are important!! I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start a coaching business from scratch and start making money at it. It was a process, it took a ton of work, and it took time and dedication. Because of this, I’m always very hesitant to advise people to quit their job to become a coach, EVEN THOUGH I SUCCESSFULLY DID IT, and even though I love it– because I know firsthand how challenging it can be to grow a thriving business, let alone one that sustain a family.
But there was another level to my decision-making. Something else entirely. There’s a deeper layer we don’t always talk about.
It was the feeling in my gut. The sturdiness in my legs. The little pip in my solar plexus that cried, “Onward!” It was the spiritual guardians who nodded and roared. It was the quiet pool of peaceful water in my soul.
In other words, it was a deep connection with my own inner guidance system that told me that this was the right move for me. It’s deeper than logic, more accurate than data. It’s never steered me wrong.
So how do you make a big decision, like should you switch careers?
You look at the facts. You absolutely do. You don’t just plug your nose and jump into a watering hole without checking to see that it’s more than ten feet deep.
But you also reach out with all your spider senses to investigate things. You feel around for something that feels off, or doesn’t quite line up. You dig deep to feel under the excitement and make sure it’s really a good fit for you. You listen in to that deepest, quietest part of you that nudges you with a sense of yearning or curiosity.
You try to find that intersection where the external realities and your own yearning line up and create a little opening. And then you step through it.
Because there is always a risk inherent in everything we do. Making a change involves risk. Staying still is a risk too.
This means accepting that you will be scared. That it will be uncomfortable. That you might fall flat on your face. And deciding that you can totally handle being scared, and uncomfortable, and falling on your face— because they’re all part of living a big and glorious life.
And living a big and glorious life is what it’s all about. So that’s when you take a big breath, and you jump right in.