For the last eight years, I’ve worked as a communications professional. For various companies, I’ve written stories, edited magazines, drafted speeches, and coached people in communication. For someone who never wanted to work in an office, it has actually been a lot of fun with plenty of cool stuff along the way.
But a few weeks ago, I handed in my resignation. You see, a few years ago, Angie and I started dreaming about a different kind of life. On our honeymoon, I read both The 4-Hour Work Week and The $100 Startup, and started to develop a plan of how we could earn money differently from continuing on our corporate path. How we could live a life which we were passionate about, and which made us feel like we were making a difference.
Follow your passion
In every corporation, the word ‘passion’ gets bandied around a lot. We want people to have passion! We want people to have some passion for our organisation!
Newsflash. About 10 people in 70,000 will be passionate about working for a big corporate organisation. Their real passions, the stuff that lights their fire, happens outside of work – they paint, they write, they climb, they run, they hike, they create, they love, they travel, they dance, they play. Those are the things they get passionate about. Personally, I get passionate about fitness, training, playing the piano, singing, hanging out with friends, camping, playing games and hiking. So I wanted to aim for an existence where I could make money while doing at least some of those things.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. As I’ve been telling my pals and colleagues about my plans for Live Simple, Personal Training, and living with less, the reactions have been extremely interesting. Three common themes have emerged, and they are a good insight into what stops people living their dreams. Let’s take a look:
I’m jealous. I could never do that…
Yes, you could. I could stop the answer there, really, because it’s the truth. But I suppose it raises more questions. Why do people feel like they couldn’t do anything else? Why do people think the corporate way is the only way? Our transition to fitness professionals didn’t happen overnight. Training, and helping others train better, makes me grin from ear to ear. Pilates was the fitness method that Angie had been searching for – she instantly connected with the philosophy and approach. But we didn’t just drop everything when we’d realised that. We set out a vision (seriously, we did), we planned, we cut back our expenditure, we trained, we qualified, we saved, and most importantly, we started. The transition didn’t just happen overnight, but if you aren’t happy with what you’re doing or where you’re heading, you can change your path.
Tip Number 1: Imagine your perfect day or perfect week. For us, it was working for ourselves, having plenty of free time to enjoy a simple, fulfilling life and to be a family, all while making a real difference in people’s lives. Once you’ve done that, work out how you can make it happen by breaking it down into tiny steps. What could you do today to get going? Do it. Make a start and adjust the sails as you go along.
Wow! You’re brave. Are you sure that’s the right thing to do?
We’re not that brave – we’ve been planning this for over two years. We’ve weighed up the downsides, we’ve saved, we’ve planned and we have a ‘worst-case’ scenario that isn’t actually that ‘worst-case’. Bravery doesn’t come into it, really. Having a vision and working towards it is what it’s all about. Is it the right thing to do? Yes. Absolutely. Without a shadow of a doubt. Being a Personal Trainer, and writing on this blog, allow me to have a positive impact on people’s lives every single day.
Tip Number 2: Plan. Use emotion and vision to work out where you want to get to, but then use logic to work out the right road. If you want to start your own business, speak to people who have done the same, research the field you want to move into, and start to write down your ideas. At the same time, consider the ‘worst-case’ scenario. You’ll realise it’s not so bad.
Can you afford to?
Can I afford not to? I can always make more money, but I can never make more time. People seem to assume that a corporate job is the only way to make big bucks. It isn’t, of course, but I’ve also come to realise that money in itself is not a motivator for me. Part of our process in planning for this shift has been to be ruthless with the big expenses (negotiating the mortgage, car insurance etc), cut back on the non-essentials (supplements, expensive coffee) and work out exactly how many clients we need/hours we have to work to meet our bills. Once we did that, it wasn’t scary in the slightest. Our lifestyle has never been based on my income. Mr Money Moustache explains this better than me.
Tip Number 3: Analyse what you spend your money on and realise how much you could save by cutting back on frivolous things. If you’re further along the path to starting your own business, work out exactly how many sales you need to break even every month. That’s the target!
The lessons learned
One of the biggest fears in taking the leap to something else is fear itself. What if I fail? What if we have no money? What would we do? Once me and Angie discussed these fears, we realised they weren’t really fears at all, just resistance. If no-one wants me to be their Personal Trainer, and if no-one wants Angie to be their Pilates teacher, and if no-one reads our blog, then what can we do? Well, I am a qualified teacher, so I can teach. I can take on a comms contract on a short term basis in the City, just to cover us while we get going. I can start working at a gym to meet more potential clients. There are always options.
I don’t have all the answers about running a business. The truth is, I haven’t even started. But I do know something that people often forget. Life is short. It could all be over in an instant. So do I want to spend my days looking out of an office window at the sunshine, or do I want to be working from home, or the park, helping people all over the world get fitter, healthier, and to live more simply?
That is one question I do have the answer to.