Ever since I quit my 9-5 job last fall to start my own company and write full-time, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of taking a leap of faith. Every time we share something we love with another person, we are taking that leap. In exchange for our vulnerability, we will receive something that moves us one step forward, instead of something that breaks us.
As I’ve thought more about this idea of taking a leap of faith, though, I’ve been struggling with what I think is the biggest misconception when someone is considering their own leap – and that is that you have to be completely ready before you do so.
When I left my stable and well-paying corporate job last fall, I wasn’t completely ready. In fact, I wasn’t ready at all. Or at least that’s what I thought.
As I’ve gone through my leap of faith, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be “ready” and how the way we define being ready is stopping many of us from going after our dreams.
Defining the Barriers
If you will, humor me for a minute, please.
If you could wake up tomorrow morning and do anything, what would it be? Write this down.
Now write down all the barriers preventing you from being able to do whatever it is that you wrote down. And then just sit with it.
The most common barriers I hear people talk about when they are considering a leap of faith are a (perceived) lack of skills, a concern over money and fear of failure. It’s been my experience, both through my own leap and through watching others’, that the extent of these barriers is usually over exaggerated.
I’m not going to lie and tell you that the money will just come, that you don’t need to worry about it, because it won’t. I’m not going to convince you that you have all the skills you need for your next chapter because I don’t know you and you probably don’t (but that’s okay). And I’m not going to guarantee that you won’t fail in your leap. But what I learned from taking my own leap of faith is that at some point, you go from seeing those barriers as absolutes to recognizing the squishiness of them and realizing your choice to take the leap or not is all about how much you want to do so and how uncomfortable you are willing to let yourself be to get there.
Facing the barriers head on
Of course, there are benefits to taking a paycheck while building your empire. There are benefits to enrolling in courses or going back to school, to build up your skillsets. But at some point, staying in the status quo will become detrimental to your future success. At some point, staying no longer feels like an option. If you get to the point where doing your day job is killing your soul, then it’s time to leave and you’ve got to find a way to figure that out.
That’s why I think it’s necessary to understand the (perceived) barriers standing in your way and face them head on.
I’m going to write a series of posts on this because I think this issue is crucially important, whether you’re facing a big leap like the one I took, or you are dipping your toe in and starting small. And while what I’m about to share with you applies to so many more people beyond just writers, I’ve got you writers especially in mind because the path to creating a sustainable writing career can be a long and lonely one (sorry, but it’s true).
Is It Really Your Dream?
In this first post, let’s focus on what your dream is, and the barriers you’ve defined. Go back to what you wrote down and read it again. How do you feel when you read that dream that you’ve written down? Now say it out loud – how does it make you feel? Does your heart warm? Do you feel a sense of calm? Panic? Does it not quite fit? In my experience, the first way to know if you are ready to take a leap or not is to find that one dream that warms your heart, gives you a sense of peace, and just fits. If you’re not getting that yet, don’t worry. There’s plenty of time – it just means you haven’t found it quite yet.
Overcoming the Barriers to Quit Your 9-5
If you’ve found the dream for you, great! Let’s move on. What are those barriers you wrote down? In future posts I will break down how I overcame the three most common barriers I mentioned above (skills, money, failure), but in this moment, I want you to just understand what your perceived barriers are.
Here’s the kicker – for right now, all I want you to do is think of ONE way that you can handle or improve one of those barriers. For example, if you are scared of running out of money, can you find one thing in your budget that you can cut once you take your leap? If you feel inexperienced or unqualified, can you take a class, read a book or treat a mentor in your desired field to coffee? Thinking about the small steps you can take to overcome these barriers gets you one step closer to realizing that they aren’t really barriers after all and maybe, just maybe, you are more ready than you think you are.