In a recent interview, I stumbled over a question.
What advice do you have for others who want to leave their office job?
I bumbled out some answer about leaving stacks of paper behind and getting outside. Later, I turned the question over in my head, going round and round on how I should have answered the question, which is maybe why I am a writer instead of a public speaker – I need to time to process my thoughts before they are fit for public consumption.
If I had it all over to do again, would have responded something like this:
When I quit my ho-hum office job, I had this jump-and-the-net-will-appear attitude, believing that the freaked out moment of flying through the air would be brief and soon followed by a soft landing.
In reality, leaving the 9-5 grind has been stressful. Instead of working during a confined block of time, I’m working around the clock. There is no paycheck. I’ve second-guessed my decision dozens of times. I’m plagued with self-doubt and constantly wonder – What if it doesn’t work out?
The thing is, taking a leap of faith is more like jumping off a dock than off a cliff. The water is refreshingly cold and a bit of a shock to the system, but you feel energized and swim with a determined stroke toward an island that sounds like paradise, only it’s too far away to actually see. You tell yourself how once you get there you’ll lead your dream life.
You continue to swim hard until you get winded. You tread water, turning around you realize that the land you left behind is out of sight. You turn forward, squinting into the horizon, but still can’t see the island. Not a soul around, you are alone in the middle of the sea. A panicky fear fills you and you take wild gulps of air before realizing your only option is to keep swimming. You put your head down and plod along, all the while your mind a battlefield of self-doubt, wondering if you’ll ever make it.
I’m still in the middle of the daunting swim, with no land in sight in either direction. I launched a Kickstarter campaign and have raised nearly two-thirds of the money necessary to launch a sailing journey for my four-year-old son where we’ll serve local communities as environmental stewards. I’ve dreamed about taking my child sailing before I even knew for sure I would one day have kids. The month of sailing will provide plenty of material for my writing career.
With only a little over a week to go, failure looms over me like an ever-present storm cloud. I have no set plan for how or where the money to fill the gap will come from and so I just keep doing the next thing and the next thing after that.
Along the way, I’ve learned something about trust, patience, and faith. The most unexpected hands have reached out to me. I’ve met people during the last few weeks who have guided me in new directions. There are days when I regret leaving behind my comfortable, familiar life. I just keep doing the next thing to move my Kickstarter forward even on those days, especially on those days.
I remind myself that I decided to chase a meaningful life over avoiding discomfort. It’s the reason I’m work hard on a project that I have no guarantees will succeed. It’s why I’m telling a story that leaves me feeling vulnerable and exposed. It’s why I moved my son and I from a two-bedroom bungalow into a glorified studio.
I disclose my own journey as a disclaimer about my qualifications to give advice at all, but I can share what I told myself several times a day before I mustered up the courage to leave my office job.
Life consists of moments. It’s up to us to make those moments matter. Figure out what creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to make it happen. Make the leap, warrior, for there will be new horizons you can only experience by moving forward.
With a little more than a week to go, we could use our help to make sure we leave the docks this January. Please check out our Kickstarter and consider backing us.