Sitting across from me at the Carrot, Alex shares a slideshow on his iPad. A year ago, he left a well-paying job to become a writer and photographer. It’s clear he’s still excited by his choice.
Okay, Alex didn’t exactly leave his job. His employers laid him off when the economy sunk. This cold shower awakening helped him hear his dreams shouting for attention.
Around the same time last year, my dreams were getting louder. I told my boss I wanted to leave my secure job for the great unknown. In response, he gave me a book called Quitter.
I was grateful. Jon Acuff’s Quitter is a book about moving with measured steps towards a dream. Quit your day job, Acuff encourages, just maybe not yet. I stayed another year.
I am now three months into life as a freelance writer and musician. What I lack in financial stability, I’ve made up for in opportunities. I’ve landed a gig as an arts columnist for CBC Radio Active. This delightful surprise came as a direct result of making myself available.
Change calls you through a doorway. You can squint inside, but you cannot see the whole room until you cross the threshold. Until you enter, you will never know what is hiding behind the door.
Plans can empower, but they can also paralyze. Some things can only be known by taking action. Sometimes we have to believe before we see. This takes faith.
Are you standing outside the doorway of some great change? Take a breath. Just before you step inside, consider the three big ‘Rs’ if you hope to find success: Relationships, Responsibilities and Resources.
Relationships matter more than qualifications or even past successes. You cannot pursue your passions in isolation. Cultivate strong relationships today so they will flourish when you need them. Don’t underestimate support from those who know you best. Develop a network who will fund your ‘life’s work.’ Writers need readers. Musicians need an audience. Painters need patrons.
Relationships bring responsibilities. I am responsible for my children and my marriage. I keep our house (mostly) clean while my wife works full time. We have a mortgage and car payments. At the very least, our Netflix subscription must be maintained.
Responsibilities require resources. So do dreams. Time is a resource we often lack, so we quit our day job. But you will need more than time. You’ll need talent, money to invest, and an income to keep up those responsibilities, or stress will strangle the life out of your creativity. Without my wife’s steady income, I couldn’t take risks and keep up my responsibilities. My relationships are too important to let those responsibilities slip.
Maybe, like Alex, circumstance has led you to a doorway. Peek through that door and smell the fresh thrill of possibility. Maybe, like me, you are waiting, hand on the doorknob, to take your brave little step.
Dave holds a Bachelor of Theology and is Artistic Director of the Bleeding Heart Art Space. He lives in the inner city with his wife, two children and dog.