Michelle Ward is also known as The When I Grow Up Coach. She helps creative people devise the career they think they can’t have — or discover it to begin with. She works with creative types of all shapes and sizes: artists, crafters, writers, actors, comedians, photographers, dancers, and yes, even those whose creativity “just” extends to their ideas. Today she shares her secret with us.
It’s been 199 days since I released the chains, untied the rock from around my ankle, and flew the coop. That’s right — March 4, 2010 was the day that I quit my day job and became The When I Grow Up Coach full time.
Last month, I made more money as a coach than I did at my corporate job. I can’t start with any new clients until November. I was about to launch my first e-course. And, well, it was working. Once I crunched the numbers, I turned to my husband and exclaimed, “Can you believe I’m pulling this off?!” Luke smiled and responded: “Yes. Yes I can.” I smiled smally (yes, smally), secretively, warmly, quietly and said: “Me too.”
I wish I’d been told The Secret earlier, although I don’t think I would have accepted it or believed in it at the time. I absolutely would have rolled my eyes if I didn’t experience it firsthand for myself.
Be You. Whoever that is. Be you unapologetically, authentically, quirkily, sweetly, vulnerably. Be the you who wears blue nail polish to a business meeting. Be the you who says “amazeballs” so much you’re known for it. Be the you who creates an imaginary, silly, party-hat-wearing host for a “serious” product you’re launching, and then put him on a stick and record his voice-over in a French accent. Be the you who doesn’t go for perfection, but goes for authenticity and uniqueness.
Trust Your Compass. Don’t know where it’s located? Check your gut, your heart, your quiet voice, your “yes,” your feelings. Check in with your brain, but not for too long. When you have a decision to make or a path to travel, see where the excitement level is along with the fear level. Things that are exciting without the fear might be really fun, but there’s probably not much to gain. Fear without excitement is, as my parents call it, the Uh-Oh Feeling. When you have a decision to make or a road to travel, head to the place that holds an almost equal amount of fear and excitement. That’s your path. Head there without too much worry, knowing you have everything to gain.
Embrace the Optimist. I used to call myself an Optimistic Pessimist, or a Pessimistic Optimist (I was never sure which). While I would expect good things to happen, I was always looking over my shoulder for The Bad Thing to nip at its heels. One day not too long ago, I stopped believing in jinxes and bad luck. I stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop. Funny thing happened: I never found the other shoe, because I decided to never look for it. Not to say that the crapballs don’t hit the fan, but when it does, I know it’s happening for a reason, and I look for the lesson to take away from it. Yes, it still sucks, but I know that because of it there’s something to to learn, to build on, to grow.
Surround Yourself With Love. Surround yourself with the people who are good for your heart, your spirit, your attitude, your outlook, your optimism, your support, your confidence. Surround yourself with things that mean something to you, that bring back lovely memories, that represent happiness. Go to the places that give you inspiration, that hug you in a figurative way, that make you feel lit up and at peace. And if you’re forced to be elsewhere, plot how you’re going to leave. It may take a while, but it’s better than never living in that place, with those people, surrounded by those things, at all.
Know What You Need and Get It. Even if it takes time (and any place worth going probably will). Even if it’s scary. Even if it’s “impossible,” or “stupid,” or not something a “responsible” adult would do, or contains other words to put in quotes. Even if your parents, your partner, your friends just don’t get it. Even if it’s a bit embarrassing. Even if it’ll confuse people and make them question the person they think they know. Not to say this is a knock-down-drag-out battle or a whimsical declaration, but once you know what you need, it’s nearly impossible to look back and not go after it without big regrets.
Enjoy Where You Are. There’s time to go further. Your life is now. The present is your present, and the future will be there tomorrow. Stop and smell the roses, and all the cliches that go with it that you know to be true.
There they are. My Secrets, which make up The Secret — not only to my current success, but to, well, my lovely, sweet, kissy, warm, amazeballs life.
Find out exactly how Michelle quit her day job — and how you can too — in her post,
I Quit My Day Job! Are You Next?