Justin left a traditional career path to put everything on the line to pursue his calling to support the arts and artists. When all of the “real job” doors refused to open, Justin was left to question if his belief in his calling was true or if he had jumped headlong into change for nothing. While he now has his “dream job” of building a complex designed to support independent artists, there was a long gap in the story before opportunity came for him.
I'd spent hours telling artists that the drive to create--this need to bring new creations into our world--was so central to their identity and their purpose in this life that, if they would simply risk and take the leap into that pursuit, there would be no way that they could fail. I had watched artists take my advice jumping headlong into these amazing projects and career changes, and watched them build new businesses and take their craft to fantastic new levels. But, here I was, 5 years into that very phase, behind on bills, family on the edge of losing our house, questioning everything I believed and had taught others to believe. How was it that, after coaching others and seeing them succeed, I was now in the middle of falling on my face as a result of taking my own advice?
I struggled the most with how the decisions I had made were affecting my family. Risking a major career transition based on a dream put my family in a very vulnerable position. We were living in a one-bedroom house with 4 people, eating beans and rice more times than I want to remember, and I had to own that we were at that place because of decisions I had made. It hurt to know that. All I wanted to do was go back and change it all, but I knew that we had to work with what we had.
For people who are going through change, I would say that it is likely that you have more people around you who love and support you than you realize. These are the people that you need to be sharing your dreams with. If you are not being intentional about vocalizing your direction, nobody will know where you are going. Ask your friends to help you process your goals and to help you make the connections you need to realize your pursuit.
Second, don't condemn yourself for doing what you need to do to make things work while working towards your dream. I spent countless hours focusing on where I wasn't, wishing I was doing something else, and losing sight of the process. Take time to integrate the experiences you collect while on the way to your dream. Your time in customer service will actually make a difference when you are engaging a potential customer on the sale of your first $2000 piece. That assistant manager position at the smoothie shop will help you when you have to deal with a difficult employee on your first contract as an arts consultant. There is always space to learn if you will make it.
Third, never lose sight of your dream. There were plenty of times over the last few years where I questioned my decision to change paths. The consequences of that decision were long-lasting, and I don't think I was as aware of them as I should have been. Finding yourself in the middle of those consequences without keeping the dream in view can lead you down a path of self-doubt and self-sabotage. So, don't forget why you are doing what you are doing. Remember to set aside time to stop, contemplate and evaluate your progress and direction, and ultimately to remind yourself that you are not crazy. You are you.
Hopefully, living in a world of constant change will bring out a part of the human experience that causes us to be more engaged in our circumstances, rather than disengaged. If the change is too overwhelming, people will choose to check out of the game. But if we can stay in tune and engage in a dialogue with the change, we can learn how to adapt and even becomes agents of the change we want to see in the world.
© Cathy Hutchison 2012