I was talking to a friend the other day. Her voice was filled with a mixture of emotions I couldn’t quite name. I’m usually pretty good at sussing out subtleties – Alan will often hand me a freshly opened beer for the inaugural sip. I don’t drink it, I just describe it: pine with notes of lemon rind and just a hint of clove. I’ll pass it back and he’ll nod knowingly and take a sip.
But this was a different blend. A mixture of nervousness and excitement, with notes of overwhelm and just a hint of self doubt. She’s in the midst of making the leap, as they say. She has all the right everything to make it work; I have no doubt she’ll succeed. But that teetering on the brink, it’s hard.
It’s also necessary.
You have to feel the full weight of your choices. Know that what you’re about to do is meaningful and profound and real. And, feel the liminality of it all. The period of in between. All rites of passage have one. It’s where the old is undone and the new is born.
We chat for a while, and I offer reassurance that she doesn’t need. It’s in the Master Plan, she says of an idea, having thoroughly churned and folded and pounded it like a rising dough. She’s ready. She doesn’t need me for anything other than to bear witness, and maybe a bit of technical support. I put my hands in my pockets and just listen.
I find it all fascinating. I’ve never been where she is, not really. My transition from working for someone else to working for myself was abrupt, knocked out of orbit by an economic recession. I never felt the internal machinations. I mean I did, but I didn’t act on them until I was forced to. It made the choice that much easier. The road ahead of me was clear – after all, there was only one road.
A Master Plan…
I swirl the phrase around in my mind, wondering if I’ve ever had one. I think I haven’t. I have my visions and I’ve made dozens of plans, but mostly I’ve had alternating periods of expansion and contraction, exploring new things and then narrowing down to the ones that click. I like this way of working. It feels cyclical, natural. It soothes me when I get itchy to do something new, but not that new. It keeps me open to opportunities I wouldn’t have anticipated.
But her mind is different. She’s laser focused on what she wants and how she intends to get there. She knows what she needs in concrete numbers. It’s only the leap that’s hard.
Except, it isn’t really a leap.
It’s a barge slowly turning in a new direction. A new piece of equipment here, a new venue there. The puzzle pieces starting to click into place. Eventually there’ll be no time for that pesky day job; she’s got work to do. Only so many hours in a day. She’ll know it when she gets there. She’ll get irritated that this pointless obligation is draining her most precious resource – time.
It’s the only one you don’t get back. Income can be replaced, resources can be acquired. But time spent is gone forever.
I want to tell her a hundred things. Don’t fret about the money – it will all work out. Be your amazing self – people are drawn to that energy. Know that the net that will catch you is not made of rope or dollars, but the love and support of your community – and that community is far bigger than you could ever imagine.
When I was first launched my business some 15 years ago, a friend passed on a piece of advice that he had received when he started his:
The highs will be high; the lows will be crushing. But you’ll never regret it a day in your life.
This post is part 1 of a 3-part series. Continue reading Coulds, Shoulds, and Master Plans here.