This post was originally written in August 2014
I thought I had finally made it through my "quarter life crisis."
I thought the crisis was my two year struggle to find my footing in the world after spending almost two decades in the comfortable security of the education system. It has taken me another year and a half to gain the perspective to realize that I was so wrong. That wasn't the crisis at all--that was simply the struggle to find my place in a crappy economy, to figure out what I was "supposed" to be doing, a struggle that I shared with thousands if not millions of other young adults my age. It was a reality check that in the real world, success isn't automatic like it was for me in school. In the real world, you don't earn your success by getting good grades and following the rules--you have to first DEFINE what "success" means to you, and then build it from scratch. I thought that I would feel successful if I had a full time job, a salary, and an easy-to-understand answer when new acquaintances asked me "so what do you do?" because I thought that was who I was supposed to be.
What I didn't know was that during those two years of uncertainty, unemployment, and temporary part time jobs, I was closer to living my true, authentic life than I ever realized. I was spending all my free time and babysitting money building a creative business through Etsy, blogging, cooking and trying new recipes, obsessively pursuing the things that made me feel complete and fulfilled, even if my feelings of failure and inadequacy overshadowed the truth of the life I was creating. Ultimately, my desire for financial security was what held me back, and when I finally landed a full time job (a rewarding job at a great institution no less), I was so relieved that I cried. I had made it into "the system" and everything was going to be ok! I'd work hard, do my best, establish a career in environmental non-profits, wait for new and exciting opportunities to appear, and play the stepping stone game until I reached some unknown pinnacle of rank that I could ride out until I retired.
What I now understand is that life is not a passive event in which you do your best and then WAIT for opportunities to happen. This past winter, I hit a very personal wall and realized that my full time job was not matching up with who "Anna" truly was, deep down, and it was making me into a stressed and bitter version of myself that I wasn't proud of. Yes, I loved my department and team and institution, but ultimately I wasn't happy. There were ups and downs and months of reflection and discussion in which I vented my internal conflict to my poor husband and closest co-worker (sorry guys!) and ultimately I came to this realization:
I deeply and desperately desire to play an active role in my future and my success. I want to design and create a life I love to live, a life that fulfills me completely and matches perfectly with my wholehearted self.
Does this sound like a delusional pipe dream? Somehow we are discouraged from "being stupid" and abandoning security to pursue what we really really want deep down. Have you ever allowed yourself to THINK about what you truly want out of life? Are you 100% happy and fulfilled to go to your job every day, or do you have a small, quiet, deeply buried voice telling you to do something more? What if you could own your own business that you designed, control your schedule, make your own rules, abandon the commute and the hoarding of vacation days, and know that you are meeting your full potential and sharing your most authentic self with the world? It sounds ideal, right? But we're held back by fear of failure, fear of financial insecurity, and so much doubt. Yes, it is extremely hard to create your own business and make enough money to survive comfortably, but it's possible if you want it badly enough.
My Etsy business alone was profitable from the start, but it would probably take me at least two years of hard work to build a full income from it, so I never even considered taking it "full time." I thought it would be a nice side income and hobby business, supporting my fabric and yarn buying habits. However, when I discovered Beachbody coaching this past February, something inside of me just clicked. The opportunity to be an independent Beachbody coach came seemingly out of left field, and no one was more surprised or confused that I was, especially since I have absolutely no prior experience in business, marketing, or communications, which are three huge things that coaching is centered around. However, I just knew that this was something potentially huge for my life. I've always loved helping people by sharing my personal experiences, and that's what Beachbody is all about. Plus it has a structure that allows you to grow your own business and become financially secure with potentially unlimited income if you are willing to plug in and do the work. I saw other coaches on my team quit their jobs, run organizations of hundreds (and thousands) of people, and make six figure incomes, and they were normal people just like me, so I knew that I could do it too if I believed in myself.
Over the summer, I have experienced so much joy and success with my coaching team that I KNEW remaining at my full time job was simply no longer an option if I wanted to be able to fully support my team, manage my business, and build my creative brand. (Oh, and spend time with my husband, hand out with friends, and call my mom and grandma. You know, just the essentials).
So in June, I literally forced myself to march into my director's office before I could lose my nerve, and in a shaking voice blurted out that I was thinking of transitioning out of my job and into running my own business. Literally the SCARIEST FIVE MINUTES of my life. Holy shit, am I actually QUITTING MY JOB????!!!! But once I made it real, everything has continued to fall into place and I am so certain that this is the path I'm being called to take.
My official "last day" at my full time job is August 29th, four weeks from today. I am so excited to take this leap and see what I can do as a small business owner/creative entrepreneur!
Now I understand that a "life crisis" isn't a struggle, and it's not necessarily a bad or negative thing at all. It is an extremely personal and unique realization or awakening that you desire something more out of life, and that you need to make some changes to meet your full potential. Share your story, listen to your heart, acknowledge what brings you joy, and believe in yourself hard enough to overcome the fear and doubt. Set goals, take action, and don't look back except to acknowledge how far you've come.
It's been two years since I quit my job to become a full time Beachbody coach, and WOW has it been an incredible ride. I've created a team of empowered and creative women called Inspire Joy, we're ranked in the top 0.001% of the company, I've been able to completely replace my old full-time salary, I've become a certified life coach, and I'm currently offering online health and fitness coaching as well as business mentorships for women who want to become Beachbody coaches too!
If you have any questions or want to chat more about your own story, don't hesitate to send me an email. I love to connect with doers and dreamers just like me :)