Sometimes in order to move your life forward, you have to put yourself forward. You have to make decisions or choices that stretch you. It may be going for a new type of job, or promotion or creating a new business. Or it could be training in a new field, for which you have little experience in previously. It may even be moving to a new city to escape a place where you were stagnating. Or it could be writing that book or creating something to put out there for others to gain from.
It’s something, we have to go through
It is likely that in our lives, at some point, we would have had to done this already. For example, the young man or woman, embarking on a new career early on, would have required courage to do so. It may have been scary and challenging, with some difficulties early on. It also would have required meeting a whole load of new people from different backgrounds and getting on with them. However, if you passed through these challenges, you would develop confidence and sufficiency at this new work. As well as self-belief. It is at this point, you are actively learning and growing as a person. As we all need to do.
Once a person becomes comfortable after passing this stage, one of the pitfalls would be to stop growing and be content with where you are. In the past, some people would be able to stop and stick with this level of development for the rest of their lives. There is nothing wrong with that. But in this age, where jobs and work are less secure, it does not hurt to stay hungry.
Staying at the same place can also get boring. For example, my father has been a gardener for the last 40 years. A few years ago, he started to tell me how he was getting bored of his work and wanted to do something different. So he started to invent a new design of seeding tray. Perhaps, if he’d had the same thoughts 20 or even 10 years previously, he would have come up with a lot more different ideas and opened up a new type of life and work for himself. Still, better later than never.
The easiest option for everyone is to stick to what you know. But some people would like to do something different before they get too old to do anything new. And if you embark on something new, you may just find a re-emergence of those feelings of fear and anxiety. The same kind of feelings you may have had as a young person starting off in a new job. That is what it is like to be young again. Do you remember it? Youth is about exploration. Don’t get old too early. As I wrote here – youth is as much a mental state as a physical one.
A friend told me this:
My only advice to guarantee prosperity and contentment is to go where the risk lies. Unless you are extremely uncomfortable, nothing will change.
The path of courage
It is the path of courage. And it involves taking a leap of faith sometimes. To do something new, may require you to move away from the path you know well and to do something different. You may have done well for yourself the last 20 years. Perhaps in a job, where you know everything in-and-out. You know all your co-workers. They know you. Why would you want to start doing something new and scary again? The answer is – to grow of course. And maybe even to find something you are really good at.
Leap of faith
I think the best analogy comes from the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There is this scene where Jones enters an underground cavern. He comes to a ledge overlooking an abyss. He needs to get to the other side, but there is no way across. Not even his trusty whip could be used. As he looks down, all he sees is darkness and a likely drop to his death.
But this abyss is one of several tests to reach the holy grail. For this particular test, it is required that the challenger must take a ‘leap of faith’. There is no other way to cross. He must take one step into the abyss and into certain death.
Jones closes his eyes and takes the step. He expects to fall to his death, but something happens. His foot finds a step. It was there all the time, hidden in plain sight by the darkness and by optical illusion. It first required an act of faith on his part to find it.
Another scene that fits, comes from the classic movie – The Matrix. Neo must leap from the building and jump to the other side. This test is different. In order to make the leap, Neo must believe in his own abilities. There can be no doubt in him, otherwise he will fall, which he does the first time.
These are analogies from popular movies. But I think the same applies to real life. Obviously I’m not talking about leaping from buildings, but I am talking about getting started on something new – something, that you really want to do, but have never gotten round to, because life got in your way. Here’s a hint – life will always get in your way. The challenge is to make time in your day to work on something else.
And I think that once you get started, you may find that the path was already there – just waiting for you, but hidden. When the flow in your life starts moving, you may find new doors open up for you that you never imagined were there.
And whilst the sensible and most comfortable thing to do in life, is to continue on our everyday path, doing what we already know; If you are one of those types of people agitated by feelings of – ‘I really want to do this before I die’, then now is the time to get into it. Those feelings, are your heart communicating to you. The heart operates within the realm of possibilities. It does not operate from the same calculated and logical decision-making processes that the brain operates by. Instead, the heart, knows what is good for your soul. So listen to it when it whispers to you.
Sticking to dead-end lives
Many years ago, I was stuck trying to survive, doing minimal wage jobs in hospitality and hotels, just to pay the bills and rent. I was putting my acupuncture business on hold because I thought it was more important to pay just to live. I figured that paying bills was the priority in life and that I could build my business in my spare time. However, there was no spare time. There was never any spare time. Or energy. Or motivation. I wasn’t even at the level of the mouse in the mouse-wheel. It felt more like I was a rat in a sewer tunnel, running round and round in a circle, in muck.
Low income jobs are traps to suck your time and energy and keep you on the mouse-wheel. They never pay enough for you to do anything else, and you always get treated like a disposable object.
One night, I’d had an especially bad day at work, and something snapped in me. ‘That is enough!‘ I said to myself I will not do this kind of work anymore. Instead I will focus on my acupuncture business, even if it doesn’t work. Even if I go bust, I don’t care. As long as I do it.
And that is what I did. I quit those jobs and threw myself into my own business. I found a place to work from. I made flyers and handed them out in person. I made a website and listed it on several different online directories. I met and trained with fellow acupuncturists and other therapists. I volunteered for an acupuncture organisation. I threw myself out there.
And things got harder financially. Even, when I was working my low-income jobs, I had often struggled with bills. Now I’d stopped doing that, there was even less money. It put a strain on my relationship and we needed to take a break for a while. I had to leave my apartment and move into a shared house.
Looking back, do I regret it? No definitely not. It was hard at the time, but it eventually brought me to where I want to be in life.
This time of struggle provided an opportunity to redefine my objectives in life and what I really want. While I was no longer having all my time and energy sucked by a dead end job, I had the chance to consider my life purpose and self-exploration of other potential talents. This time gave me the mental and physical space to start writing. I have always been writing, but it really took off in this period, and has never reduced.
There are some things I wrote back then – such as my ‘How to Start a Complementary Therapy Business on a Budget‘ which is still being read today. Some people even buy it as a kindle book, even though it is available as a free PDF.
Sometimes such choices are necessary for growth.
Release the stagnant, invite fresh flow
By releasing this one thing that wasn’t working in my life, I invited fresh energy and a new experience into my life. Gradually, my practice started picking up. I was renting space at a local clinic on an adhoc basis and I was getting more and more inquiries. The business manager mentioned on a few occasions, how I was always calling them to book rooms several times a week. This was a good sign.
Also a new opportunity to work in a paid position as an acupuncturist in a hospice came up some time later. This came about, because I had more time to volunteer doing acupuncture for a healthcare charity. This was something I could never do, while I was spending all my time in a low income job.
After a while I was able to get a new place for myself – small but mine. As I became more satisfied with my acupuncture work and who I am, my relationship resumed and became much stronger than before. Now I have children. A break is not a bad thing in a relationship, particularly if things get a bit stagnant.
When I look back at this time, I am truly grateful to the universe for allowing me those opportunities and experiences, even though, sometimes, they were difficult things to go through. Yet, none of this would not have been possible, without a leap of faith on my part in the first place. By releasing things that are not working for you, it enables new energy and flow to come into your life. You must close one door to open another.
By the way, I do not advocate quitting your job to start a business! There are much easier and smoother ways to transition into something new. If you have obligations, bills, mortgage to pay, or dependents, then you have to be responsible, possibly even delaying your actions. The important thing though, is to get started, even in a very small way. For example, starting a new part-time course, or setting up something in your spare time. it may be applying for a new job, or aiming higher in your current work. I also strongly advise against taking on debt to finance it. However, if you don’t have anything to lose, then you can be more gung-ho about it.
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Featured Image taken from Shamo, Japanese manga.
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