We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
How excited are you to get out of bed every day and go to work?
On a scale from one to ten how would you rate it? About as excited as getting a root canal? Or are you one of the lucky ones who are so in love with their work they would do it for free?
I can honestly admit to having been both at different times in my life. I know well the Sunday night twisted-gut dread of wishing Monday morning would never come. I also frequently feel the surge of thrill and adventure that comes from living my dream and working with clients who make my heart sing.
I feel very blessed to have a career I love that much. I look forward to writing, creating, and sharing inspiration, clarity and vision with our clients. I love building our company, Blue Sun Studio with Deb, and coaching clients who are creating exciting passionate businesses of their own. Making a positive contribution in the lives of others is extremely rewarding to me and keeps me fired up day after day, thrilled with the life I have.
It hasn’t always been the case.
Throughout my twenties, I settled for a job that paid the bills but wasn’t congruent with my lifetime goals, my personal mission statement or values, my family needs or my life/business balance schedules. I found a way to squeeze in my mission statement, but it was rather like stuffing a square peg into a round hole. Many of my interersting edges had to be chopped off in order to fit in. So, instead, I ran around with a truckload of guilt, massive piles of To-Do lists and SHOULDS that I procrastinated on and never got around to.
I stayed in the job for several years unhappy and settling because I couldn’t see a way out to escape and do what I knew would make me happy.
My dreams felt like nothing more than a fuzzy fog that I never could get a clear vision on. Every day felt like a struggle and every night was an exercise in exhaustion and frustration. It was hard to imagine that life held anything else in store for me than the worn down circular path t I had been trudging on over and over again for years.
One day, after a decade of being in the same rut, a client that I was very close to came in to see me. I had a long time working-friend relationship with this client and was always inspired by his devotion to his family, his love for his career and his insistence on living his life by his terms, fully engaged and determined to be happy every single day. He was a bright spot in a job that had begun to suck the passion out of me.
It was a cold, stormy Chicagoland wintery day when he left our business.
The next day I received the horrible news that his car had slid on an icy hill and had not been able to stop in time for an oncoming train. He had been killed instantly, leaving behind a wife and two young children.
It’s been said that people never really make a change until the catalyst is so great or the pain is so unbearable that it overtakes the inertia of repeating the same history over and over. For over a decade, the pain of being miserable wasn’t enough to get me to make a change.
But when I looked at this man’s life…when I looked at his testament to living the life of his dreams, when I reflected on how happy he had been, and how much his family knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were the most important thing in the world to him, I decided in that moment that my days of settling were over. His life was a reminder that our time could be over in the blink of an eye, and while we are spending our time waiting around to get on with our lives, life could be getting over for us.
I was done waiting.
No matter what the cost, I had to start living a life that was consistent with my values, my mission statement and my family needs. I needed a life of balance.
I left a long, successful career and began again in an entirely new industry, learning new skills and building up a business based on my terms, with my vision and my dreams.
And it was HARD WORK. It was nail-biting. It was exhausting. There was so much new stuff to learn that I would fall into bed at night asleep before my head hit the pillow. But I would wake up the next morning and hit the ground running, happy and ready to go again. I was excited. I was passionate. I was helping people, I felt needed, I knew I was making a difference and I knew I was in control of my own destiny.
As much as it was the hardest thing I had ever done, it was the ride of my life. It was exhilarating. It was an adventure. And it felt…effortless.
How could something that hard, that scary, that much of a change feel effortless? I believe it was because I had become clear. I was no longer willing to settle. I KNEW what I needed to make me happy and I wasn’t going to risk one more moment on a job that made me cringe so much my teeth hurt.
Over the years, I have tweaked my choices again and again, each time building and shifting and getting closer and closer to the ideal working solutions for me and my family. I analyze what doesn’t fit in, I walk away from what doesn’t work and create better systems and solutions. I keep my eye firmly focused on the long-term goals and look for opportunities to streamline and build the current plan closer to the long-term goals.
The perfect life-business situation isn’t a destination. It’s a live, growing, shifting, changing process that we always have to stay closely in-tune with.
But it all has to begin with the intention to be true to who we are, what our values are and what would give our lives meaning and passion. I know that for me, I am on a mission to spread love, joy and acceptance of all to the entire world. Spreading love and inspiration makes my heart sing. Do you know what makes yours sing?
That’s the first step.
The second step is to have the courage to jump. Make the change, stop settling.
Take the chance. Life is too short.
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Wow, what a moving story. And isn’t it amazing how people who are living their purpose, their passion, their dreams are able to affect people so profoundly, without even trying. To change your world with a few words, a story, or providing a fantastic role modelling example ( reminding us of the immortal line in When Harry met Sally – “I’ll have what she’s having!”)
And so you went for it – and guess what – you feel as fulfilled and happy as your friend felt. And you go on to profoundly inspire and affect people, just by being you. Now that’s a form of quiet leadership that’s magnetic. And you’re right – life is way too short to tread water. Thanks for this post, it leaves me humbled. And just taking a minute to breathe, and focus, and reflect on where we can get to. The pause to gather strength before leaping forward. Wow, its a powerful place to be in. Thank you Wendi.
Making that jump can be reallly scary and it’s amazing how much resistance can pop up. But, when people like you tell their story, you know it’s possible and it can be done. Also, your story shows that we don’t always have a clear idea of where we are going to be but we keep tweaking and learning along the way. Thanks for sharing your story!
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Kimberly Eldredge says
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Wendi! I love that you share that the vision you had when you left your job has changed and evolved in time. That’s a powerful message.
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Isn’t it amazing how we know we need to make changes in our lives for years or even decades, and it takes a tragic event for us to realize we *must* start living our lives *our* way! We must start knowing thyself, being true to thyself, and living our own values and not everyone else’s values. Thank you, Wendi, for sharing from your heart. And kudos for having the courage to start your new life on your terms.
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Aly Pain says
A very powerful story Wendi, thank you for sharing. Sometimes the waiting and the jumping feel just as painful, but in very different ways. And once we jump, the daily looking in the mirror at the person who needs to change and grow and shift thinking and beliefs and perspectives is endless. Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. At the end of my life, I will be closer to the person I was created to be and have lived more experiences with more learning than I would If I had just stayed in the waiting.
Thanks for sharing!!
Jennifer Bourn says
Wendi – Thanks for sharing your journey! I agree with Aly that while VERY different, the waiting and the jumping can be equally as painful. If only everyone could be certain they’d look back from the future and say, “That was the best thing I could have ever done for myself!”
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