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  • Joanna Thomas

Leap of Fear, Leap of Faith

In the middle of last year I went part-time in order to dedicate a couple of days a week to my coaching. On the first or second day a really strong feeling dawned on me; it was like I’d been shown a mystical secret, a hidden truth, and I wanted to share it with everyone. “Did you know”, I whispered to my friends in reverent tones, “did you know that you don’t have to work a full-time job?” Lots of people called me brave, but honestly, I didn’t feel brave at all. I felt joyful, liberated, and energised. Yes, I had less money coming in, but I had something far more precious: time and space for creativity, and work that fuelled me, excited me, and made me feel proud of who I was choosing to become. And not only did I have scope to pursue my coaching and writing, but I also found time to take the car to the garage and clean the house without feeling stressed and pressured. If it turned out that these were the only things I’d bought for myself, well, it was a bloody good deal.

At that point, I think the idea of going fully freelance looked a long, long way in the future. Surely this was a big enough step for now? I enjoyed my clients, my bits of writing, my sense of achievement. But I also enjoyed the security of the part-time pay cheque that still came in every month. I’ve lived alone for a long time, and being an independent woman who pays her own way and doesn’t have to worry about money has been a defining feature of my identity since I first started working. I’ve never made what you might call embarrassing amounts of cash, but I’ve been decidedly comfortably off for years. Why would I want to let that go, and face the uncertainty of a pay-cheque free existence?

The thing about coaching, though, is that it’s not a big fan of playing small. When you start working with a life coach, you’re making a commitment to yourself; you’re promising to explore the big, scary, exciting places that your heart yearns to investigate but that you head has festooned with ‘no entry’ signs. So for all I told myself that two days of coaching a week was enough, I couldn’t ignore the voice that whispered to me, day after day “but there’s more! More joy, more creativity, more people to meet, more fun, more freedom, more more more!” And once I started listening to that voice, my arguments against going fully freelance started to deflate like old balloons. The voice didn’t mind that I was scared, or that I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to make enough money. It didn’t give a stuff about the mortgage, gas bill, or broadband. The voice certainly wasn’t interested in whether or not I would be able to afford my usual range of expensive hair-care products. The voice sang straight to my heart “Who do you want to be? What do you really care about? What if the fulfilled life you’re denying yourself is actually possible? What if you just found out? Honestly, what’s the worst that could happen?”

So, you know, I quit my job.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge at this juncture that the worst that can happen is really not that bad. I have no dependents, a small cushion of savings, and am educated, experienced, and connected enough to find another day job if I really need to. Yes, this is a big risk, but it’s also calculated. I’ll probably be changing where I’m shopping and what I’m buying, but I’m not going to go hungry. But knowing these things doesn’t make the decision any less startling. I’ve actually done what? Two days ago, I walked away from the job that pays my mortgage. Am I completely insane? But here’s the answer:

If, a year ago, you’d enquired after my biggest fear, I would have said “waking up one day and realising I’ve wasted my potential”. Today, my biggest fear is whether, in six month’s time, I’ll be able to afford Frizz Ease. There’s simply no question which fear I’d rather live with. I know with all my heart, and most of my head, that I am doing the right thing. I am pursuing the life that feels biggest, boldest, and most beautiful to me. My choice is to abandon security in favour of standing side-by-side with people as they look into those big scary places and say YES to living in harmony with their dreams and values. That makes it one of the sanest decisions I’ve ever made. Sure, this is a leap of fear (trust me, I’m bricking it right now), but it’s also a profound leap of faith. So, please, listen out for that voice that asks you for more, that refuses to let you play small. And if you’re scared, well, good. That probably means you’re on the right lines. Fear, my friends, is an invitation to fly.

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