For many people, surviving and thriving as an independent consultant means making changes. Sometimes, as part of those changes, you need to push your comfort zone. Doing so may mean giving up your regular job for life as a full-time consultant, addressing fear of the phone, speaking in public, making cold calls or asking for consulting fees that reflect your true worth.
In my newsletter, I’ve been talking about my recent successes with changing my own comfort zone. (Subscribe via form above, right.) But now I’d like to share the story of a young woman who has taken a true leap.
Laura-Jane Koers is a young woman who has given up her city job for life on a farm on the East Coast. She’s given up the security of everything from steady pay to a warm place to sleep. She and her partner (my cousin, Cam) are renovating an old farm house, growing their own food, chopping their own wood — and taking a stab at making money from home.
Here’s part one of Laura-Jane’s story:
Taking the Leap
by Laura-Jane Koers
I’m not much of a dreamer. I plod along, living my small life in this wide world. Nonetheless, last year I found myself hurtling head-first into the wind and giving up everything I’ve ever known to live my dream. The mischievous thing about dreams is that we can spend decades wishing that they would come to pass. But the best kept secret is that, once we honestly commit to making our dreams happen, they can’t help but come true, because we’ve set them in motion ourselves. The most difficult part of achieving a dream is deciding to make it come true; once this decision has been made, the rest is peanuts.
For years, my partner and I often fantasized about leaving the West Coast and heading 6,000 kilometres east to live on Prince Edward Island. As busy working professionals in metropolitan British Columbia, we spent the occasional weekend yearning to give up our tiny condo and Starbucks lifestyle in favour of rural farm-life. We wanted orchards, chickens, and acres of rolling splendor. But our farm-dream was just an idle topic that was a welcome distraction from the everyday–it wasn’t our focus.
One Friday evening, we were enjoying the last of the day’s sun in a triangle of green-space near our condo. Discussing the too-short weekend ahead of us and how it would invariably be followed by yet another long and draining work-week, we saw our faces darken. We would later come to refer to this evening as the Night That Changed Everything.
"I think I need to quit my job," my partner of ten years said.
(Almost) always supportive, I answered, "Are you being serious? Because if you are, I’m with you."
He was serious, and, by the end of our turn around the neighbourhood park, we had made a variety of life-changing decisions. He should quit, I should quit, we should sell everything we own, and we should move across the country to an island that we had never seen. It had taken years for us to muster the courage to make such a decision, but, that night, we agreed to make it happen. In fact, we even pinky-swore on it.
Once we’d finally committed to our oft-discussed dream, we started to plan. Planning was easy; because we were committed, we knew what had to be done. We compiled a dauntingly gargantuan to-do list and slowly chipped away at each item.
Eventually we found ourselves in a chic cafe with my beloved parents. Across from my untouched panini (havarti and garden vegetables — my favourite), my father searched my face with sad, loving eyes.
"You’re moving across the country?" he asked. "But what kind of job will you get? You’ll be thousands of kilometres away! And it’s the middle of winter, for Blimey’s sake!"
My throat was trying to close up, but I commanded my anatomy to stay strong or face the consequences. "I’ll miss you too, Dad," I heard myself saying, "But this is our dream, and we’re going to make it happen."
After the decision had been made, our life change took over a year to materialize. But we eventually found ourselves waving off our families and home town, as we honked goodbye and drove east on the Trans-Canada Highway. As our parents’ waving hands disappeared around a bend in the road, my partner and I looked at one another. "Is this really happening?" I asked.
Glancing back at the rickety U-Haul trailer that housed all of our worldly possessions, he answered, "It would appear so!"
And we both gave way to the greatest laughing episode I can remember.
It is easy to get discouraged and frightened about committing to a dream. What will my family and friends think? What if I realize that this dream isn’t right for me after all? What if I fail? I bypassed my fears by allowing myself freedom. I committed to making our dream happen, but I certainly didn’t commit to living this dream forever once we’d achieved it. (I have other dreams too, you know!)
How did we do it? We looked our dream head on and said, "We’re going to make you happen." Our dream was, well, just a dream–until we decided to make it a plan. For us, all it took was a shift in perspective; we had to make our dream become our reality ourselves. And we did.
So here we are, a couple of years later, living on a 60-acre farm on Prince Edward Island. No, it isn’t always roses. I’ve chased bats out of our farm-house bedroom. And, when the wind is howling and all we have is a wood-stove to keep the weather out, I’ll admit that I have sometimes taken to wondering why we wanted to move to a farm in the first place. However, when I think back to how we dared to follow that little voice that wouldn’t go away, I can’t help but grin through the hard work, wasp stings, and cold winter toes. It was our dream, after all.
Laura-Jane Koers is a writer currently living on Prince Edward Island, in Canada. Since writing this article, she has gone on to become co-founder of Brightflock Consulting.