The good vs. the great

Sometimes you have to give up the good to get to the great.
— John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur On Fire

When faced with two choices, wouldn't you rather make the one that's more in alignment with your vision? Sometimes, though, making a choice to be true to yourself could mean having to be extraordinarily brave and giving up a great amount of comfort.

It is disconcerting to feel something is off in your life and being bothered enough by it that it doesn't let you go. You know you have to do something about it, but that thought alone scares you witless.

My job as a communications consultant at a university appeared on the outside to be a great one to have. In terms of income, I was doing quite well. It put me in a financially stable place, with the ability to save money for longer term goals.

The job offered other great benefits. But for years I was dissatisfied. I was commuting for many hours a day, and I was exhausted all the time. My life was essentially: wake up, work, come home, relax for a bit, sleep and then do it all over again. When I was at work, I wanted to be somewhere else entirely. But I stayed because as I said, the money was good. It covered my husband and me with health insurance, something that was critical especially for him, because he's a cancer survivor and has had a few relapses.

I was doing alright, but not great. We didn't own our own home. We couldn't go on vacation the way we wanted to. My husband and I both had to work to pay expenses and we were always catching up with bills and not getting out of the hole of debt we had.

I also wanted more than anything to live in alignment with what excited me: financial independence, free from the 9 to 5 lifestyle with more time to pursue interests that I was passionate about, such as personal development, and putting my talents to better use so I could be of service to more people in the world. For years, I had read about entrepreneurs and visionaries who had done exactly that, and I wanted that same opportunity for myself.

My dream is to be self-employed and to use the personal development journey I have been on to help others who want more from life, too, and who want to push the boundaries of success. In essence, I want to share what I learned about being a happier person with others, so they could be happier too.

This idea of sacrificing the good to get to the great has weighed heavily on my mind for years now, ever since 2007, when I first realized how unhappy I was with my life, and how this needed to change. My desire for the great has not gone away in the years since. But it's only now, almost 10 years later, that I have decided I need to be more brave than I ever have, and take the plunge. After losing that university job, I realized it was now or never.

Others might think I'm crazy or have lost my mind for making this leap to self-employment. They might expect me to fail or at least not get the results I'm looking for. They might think it's a huge risk to take.

They might be right. But this is my dream and I owe it to myself to do this. For over 30 years I have been working to support myself, have been a practical and dependable person. I have been the main bread winner in all my relationships. I was the one who could be relied on to bring in the dough.

I grappled with making this transition for a long time. At one point I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably when I thought of the possible outcome, the ruin I could bring upon myself and my family. I don't make this move lightly.

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.
— Henry David Thoreau

I owe doing this not just to myself, but to all those people who would otherwise not benefit from my experience, my talents, or my insights.

In all my years of working, I never experienced a spark of excitement for the jobs I had. Not in the way I do when I think about helping people to have better lives. I have yet to see how those jobs had the kind of impact on others that I experienced when I found coaching and learned of a way to make a living from personal development.

My coach has asked me on occasion: Could it be true that by not putting your talents to good use, you are depriving people from benefitting from what you have to offer? Could it be true that by staying comfortable, by not risking, by not living your dreams, you are ensuring that others will never really know you or be impacted by you in ways that could deeply change their lives?

The answer is a resounding "yes." Despite knowing that, it still takes courage and sacrifice.