Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's journal entry is for you if you're longing to quit the traditional path you're on and pursue the calling of your heart. I want to give you my honest, personal opinion on the hardest thing you'll encounter, the biggest hurdle you'll need to clear, as you try to embark on this awesome, fulfilling journey.
First, let's start by defining what I mean by "traditional path." It varies to some degree for everyone, but I like to refer to the traditional path as the "life checklist" path. People on this path generally have accomplished the following or are somewhere in the middle of accomplishing the following: graduated high school and tried to get into the best college, then the best grad school, then the best workplace, and then they found someone to marry, got a dog, bought a house, had 2.5 kids, got promoted and - BOOM - finished the checklist only to find that happiness was not waiting for them there. I noticed this at my first job when I was 22. At the time, I was working in NYC at a law firm as a legal assistant (before I went to law school) and I noticed that all of the attorneys there went to like Harvard or Yale, got a lawyer job at one of the best law firms, got married, bought a beautiful home or condo in NYC, had a child or two, bought a Lexus, got promoted to "partner" level, went on extravagant vacations, yet they seemed miserable day-to-day. "What's that all about?" I wondered. These people - on the outside - had all the hallmarks of a "successful" life yet they often didn't have much happiness, peace, joy, or light in their eyes. Why is that? I think it's because people on this path put too much energy and effort into acquiring all of these things and accomplishments under the misguided perception that happiness, peace, and joy would be waiting for them at the end of the journey. And in the meantime, they've neglected their own growth, self-development and the real inner work that leads to maturity and authentic peace and happiness.
If you identify as a person on the traditional path, here's the biggest hurdle you're going to encounter when you try to quit or change careers and follow the calling of your heart: challenging the "life checklist" mentality and enduring the judgment of friends and family who are firmly rooted in this mentality. In my opinion, nothing is more difficult. The nuts and bolts of starting a business are relatively easy compared to constantly having to battle this idea that you're somehow wrong for wanting to follow your heart and create a good life for yourself that has meaning, depth, and joy. In addition, many times these judgments will come from friends, co-workers, and family members and if they don't believe in you, how are you supposed to believe in you? It can throw you for a loop.
I can still remember all the judgments I endured when I quit my lawyer job. I quit that profession not once but twice, so believe me when I tell you I remember the criticism, judgments, snide remarks, and insulting comments. The comments that still stand out are these:
- You really think you can make enough money selling jewelry?
- How are you going to pay for your living expenses?
- You're just going to waste your law degree like that?
- Have you ever thought about trying a different field of law instead? (Oh my gosh, this was my pet peeve. You really think I haven't thoroughly examined this idea!?)
- What business experience do you have to run your own business? (Said in a very derogatory tone)
- So, like, when are you going to go back to being a lawyer? (Again, said in a very derogatory tone)
Here's the deal. At the end of the day, these comments say more about the person making them than they do about you. They're coming from people who have bought the life checklist mentality hook, line, and sinker. These people get really uncomfortable when they see someone they know challenging that mentality. You know why? Because they have to face the possibility that maybe there is another way. That maybe they have chosen incorrectly. And, boy oh boy, these types of people don't like to be wrong about the way they've approached things. Trust me, I've met lots and lots of them in the legal profession.
The easiest way to deflect these negative comments and go on about your day is to remember this: the people throwing these negative comments your way are firmly rooted in a perspective that you don't agree with anymore. You are not the same. They think "small" and you do not. Meaning, they think everyone should be on the straight and narrow "life checklist" path and anyone who veers outside of that is crazy, naive, weird, strange, etc. Don't let them deter you. Don't let them steer you off your path. You'll be the one living the good life in a few years, while they stay trapped in a life checklist mentality. P.S. - it's great fun for me to talk to the people who previously judged me! Some of them can hardly believe that I never went back to law. Most of them are supportive, but I can tell it kills some of them to say nice things to me now. You know why? Because I'm hitting that little nerve inside of them that wonders whether their own life can be different. Some people are just not ready, and might never be ready, to really put in the mental work to pursue a life they love.
But you can! You can pursue a life you love. And you'll grow so much along the way. Whether your business ultimately takes off or closes down, you'll move through the rest of your life with a grace and an ability to endure any type of judgment or criticism.