Welcome to Day Two of the Creative Freedom Challenge. You can catch Day One here.
One of the questions I hear a lot from my clients (and one I've asked myself in the past) is "When is it my turn?"
It's a question we often ask when we think we should be further along than we are. I remember when I was first building my online coaching business. There were several colleagues that I watched "zoom ahead of me" in terms of income, reach, and business growth. I looked at what they were doing (some of them were outright stealing from other people), and I got angry. I let my indignant flag fly.
"I'm better than them. How come THEY are seeing all this success and I'm not?"
What I couldn't begin to know was the behind-the-scenes gyrations that these people were going through that would, eventually, be their downfall. One took out a massive second mortgage to pay for events and "coaching" with self-appointed seven-figure gurus - just before the housing market crashed. Her marriage hit the skids and she had to go back to a day job just a few years later. Another rose quickly in the ranks of social media experts and became a sought-after speaker and trainer in her niche... and now she's back at a day job, too.
And I'm still here, doing what I love. I may not yet be as rich and famous as they got to be in their chosen fields, but I also didn't have to sell my soul to be where I am today.
More than likely, you won't be an overnight success. You'll work hard for years, and if you're lucky, it won't feel much like work. Oh, there'll be effort, and ups and downs, and late nights or early mornings sometimes, but you recognize you're building something that's meant to last.
But if you continue to put your hopes and dreams on the back burner, or ignore them altogether, you'll be hard-pressed to find the success you're looking for... simply because you haven't really made it a priority.
That was the error I made for nearly a decade. I was constantly re-prioritizing my career path to "fit in" with the expectations of those close to me. When I had my first five-figure month, I faced an enormous amount of guilt and shame... consequently it was a long time before I had another five figure month. When I had the opportunity to star in two shows back-to-back, I withdrew from the second production because my husband wanted me home with the kids. I didn't even think about hiring a sitter or getting help because I had put his happiness above my own.
I'm done paying that price.
You cut off the options and activities that no longer move you in the directions of your dreams. You walk away from the programs, commitments, projects, and people that are draining your energy and diverting you from the thing that matters most. You get ruthlessly honest with yourself about what really matters.
That's when you begin to feel the success that's been yours all along. Remember success is a destination, and you're already here!
This applies to creative entrepreneurs just as much as people in the corporate world. When a chief executive of a major corporation retires after only a few years, people take notice. Lots of assumptions are made about his health, his qualifications, and the politics of the position. It almost seems unthinkable that the real reason for quitting is because their heart just isn't in it anymore.
When that executive is the Chief Financial Officer at Google, even more people sit up and take notice.
Patrick Pichette is a family guy. He's been married to Tamar for about 25 years, and they have three grown kids - all of whom are on the success track. He's got a lot to be proud of, but Patrick's been a card-carrying member of what he calls the "Fraternity of Worldwide Insecure Over-achievers" and so busy at his day job that he couldn't see what was happening at home.
He was vacationing with his wife (here's a photo of them on Mount Kilimanjaro) when she suggested they extend the vacation and see a few more sites. In Patrick's own words:
"I remember telling Tamar a typical prudent CFO type response- I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It's not time yet, There is still so much to do... so many people counting on me/us."
Tamar refused to play along.
"When is it going to be time? Our time? My time?" she asked him.
Patrick was only 7 years into his tenure as CFO at Google when Tamar dropped this bomb. Tamar was tired of waiting. Tired of being the lower priority. With their children grown, it was the perfect time for them to spend time enjoying each other - before their health and well-being started the typical old-age decline.
"I could not find a good argument," Patrick said, "to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road - celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine mid life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted."
And with that, Patrick made his announcement to retire and begin the next chapter of his life and Great Work.
Which leads me to today's question:
There will always be this perception that someone is counting on you. That's the nature of being in human relationships. For many people, life becomes a series of negotiations - trading work and family time so that every obligation is met. And you can choose to work and live focused on meeting the obligations, or you can choose to listen to the voice that keeps asking "When is it MY time?"
When will you stop waiting on your dreams? When will they become a real priority for you? When will you stop compromising what's important to you and start showing up to your life and work with an authentic commitment to being YOU - fully and completely?
With Tamar's help, Patrick recognized that there had to be a better way to live and be in the world. He stopped compromising and started doing what worked for him - even if it flew in the face of what "conventional wisdom" said he should do.
In my last post, we talked about how owning your dreams and building your Noble Empire begins with getting clarity. Once you have clarity, you need to make a plan. Patrick didn't just leave Google high and dry. He worked with Google to create a transition plan. That way, the new CFO could get up to speed in a timely manner, and Patrick and Tamar could start plotting the course of their next adventure.
A transition plan gives you a map to help you see the steps you need to take in order to transition away from your day job and into the Great Work of your life. Most entrepreneurs skip this step, and just jump ship - which creates the frustration and anxiety that most new entrepreneurs feel around their creative endeavors. Remember Amy? Her transition took about 3 years, from inkling to finally quitting her day job. But most of that time she was stuck in the Artisan trap... which we'll talk about next time.
Today, begin building a list of things you need to handle to make a transition happen. Take those non-negotiables from yesterday into consideration. Maybe you need to figure out a way to build your Noble Empire without doing a lot of travel - or maybe, like Patrick, you want to travel a LOT. Maybe you need to figure out health, parent, or child care. Maybe you need to figure out your business model or where you'll do this Great Work. Maybe you just need to get some support and accountability to keep you on track. Don't think too hard. Just start building the list.
Creating the list is an exercise in gaining more clarity. And yes, you'll probably hit a wall with some things you don't even know you need to handle. Remember, you're not making the jump right now. I don't even want you to THINK about making a jump or leap of any kind. We're aiming for a smoother transition than that. We're just starting to line things up.
Take it one step at a time. You can do this. I believe in you!
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