You know that "what if?" scenario that you've played out in your head before? "What if I had a million dollars, what would I do?" or the, "What if I just quit my job and did what I wanted?". Let's focus on the second of those two questions, because it's the one I can talk about from experience.
You see, I remember very clearly all of the days where I hit walls from my day job. Walls were firm, strong, and had their hold on me.
One day those walls were reduced to rubble.
It didn't happen overnight either. It took time to realize that I was unhappy and something had to change. If my job wasn't contributing to my happiness, it was time to move on. The subject of moving on is not so simple either, and I want to emphasize that point.
In the past few months I've exchanged messages with friends, phone calls, zooms, and met in person for coffee with a few. These friends are all in that place where moving on is difficult for them to overcome in their current state of work. The topic of transitioning into another career has come up more often than not.
From those conversations I've learned a few things from those individuals about their dreams and nightmares:
How would I replace the monthly income I make now?
What about benefits or retirement?
How could I possibly learn a different skill set?
If I just grind it out in my current job, I think things will get better.
I love what I do but it's getting so much harder to keep doing it.
I feel burned out and I don't know what to do.
I don't have the financial support to leave my job.
I've trained my whole life for what I do, it's hard to abandon that.
So, how do you move on if these thoughts are the roadblocks?
Whenever I've met with friends sharing these sentiments, I've told them my story of how I learned to do something on the side while I was teaching. Remember, it's easy to see highlight reels of others through social media posts but the truth is, when I learned my skill sets on the side, people shrugged their shoulders when I told them what I was doing, no one paid attention, and there were some late nights. No one necessarily laughed at me, or at least not in front of me. Some people even thought it was a scam or no way to really make a living...isn't that how it always goes though?
Often times we see what others are doing, quietly, patiently, and then BOOM! Out of no where, it seems like they made a change, they're doing something different, and the life they always wanted to live starts happening for them.
I tell my friends that it took me a couple of years to build up what I do now for a living and there is no easy way and I'm almost always met with some variation of, "but I want the path of least resistance".
What I mean is that, people want to see how easy something is. We trick ourselves into believing that we can do anything but when the rubber meets the road, we doubt ourselves, we give up, we make excuses, we get comfortable with what we have or we settle for what we have. That's when the vicious cycle starts over again, and we're stuck.
Now, there are people who genuinely love their job and they're willing to put up with some of the most difficult parts of it. I'm not speaking to you. I'm talking to anyone that feels like they're in true pain, feeling anxiety, depression, and feel stuck in their job, because I WAS that person.
I'm here to tell you that I made the transition from my teaching career into digital marketing and SEO in a manner that took time. It was a simple concept, a simple skill, that took time to grow and it paid off...
One of my favorite lessons about building skill sets came to me when I was only 19. Between my first and second year of college I hired a personal fitness trainer and I was so intimidated walking into a gym for the first time. I was meeting with this amazingly fit and sculpted trainer and I told him upfront how intimidated I was. Then, he put my mind at ease when he told me:
"Remember, everyone in this gym stood exactly where you're standing now. We all have different paths to our goals and everyone has a different story. The ones you see around you now just started their journey at a different time than you, that's all."
I think about that often whenever I feel caught up in what others are doing around me. I have to remember their stories and how they made it. It also helps to have a support system around you and I'm not talking about financially but a familial support system.
When I left teaching, I didn't have a ton of money. [shocker, I'm still building my wealth]
There, I said it. For the doubters or haters that are thinking, "yeah, it's easy to switch careers when you have a financial support system or money you can use from family".
I have something better than money, I have acquired knowledge and I have a family that supports my dreams (which is different from family financial support). One of my favorite things about family support comes from my wife. She constantly tells me, "focus on yourself and the money will follow".
Ugh, it's like eating vegetables when you're a kid. The words are invaluable and the lesson holds up every time.
Any time I've found myself worried about money, some opportunity comes to me. It's CRAZY!
That just goes to show you that I have an amazing support system and my family supports me in my endeavors.
Alright, so are you ready to talk about the nightmares?
No one ever is.
The nightmare is in fact, the dream. 🤯
I was listening to a podcast episode of Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend when he and his guest were talking about dreams and nightmares [which I totally ripped off for the title of this blog post]. Without giving too much away, the episode is with an up and coming Asian American comedian, Bowen Yang. He's been central to the cast of Saturday Night Live and parallels much of Conan's life as a young college student and similarities of being a first generation of immigrants migrating to the United States.
Bowen was born into a family of scholars and academics and felt the pressures of needing to go to a prestigious university to fulfill the assumed roles of doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc...However, in the interview, Bowen talks about his first experiences in New York City and visiting the NBC studios where he would later audition for the cast of SNL.
Conan at one point helps him identify that once Bowen decided what was right for him and not what was expected of him, that he was now living both, "the dream and the nightmare". Re-read that sentence.
You see, once you take that leap of faith, you realize how much you really are in control of your situation. I took a risk, made the jump, and now I'm living the life I've always wanted, on my own terms. I'm living both the dream and the nightmare.