I quit my job on July 18, 2012. I just walked away from everything I was supposed to do. But this was happening all the time. Wasn’t it? After all, I’ve read it in 4 Hour Work Week. I saw the books and the articles and the inspirational speeches on TedTalks.
These people left their mundane lives for the passion they always wanted. I could have it too, if I just stopped what I was doing and took the leap. So I did. I leaped. I leaped so hard without looking that I soon found myself floating on my own high of just the idea of doing something I actually cared about.
And then I looked around and I actually wasn’t floating. I wasn’t hard at work at ‘my passion’. I was sitting on my ass watching Lost. All 6 seasons in row. And when that was done I picked up another show. I rolled out of bed and simply vegetated on existing. I did this for about 6 months.
The idea of being my own boss and doing work that inspired me was enough to make me quit a job that was secure and dive head first into this thing called entrepreneurship. But then what? You can read all the inspirational stories, case studies and articles you want, but it doesn’t produce results.
Of course, I didn’t stay in the vegetative state forever, but it sure felt like it to the people around me, namely my partner Kevin. Looking back now, I’m sure there was a sort of pressure and resentment that took hold of him while I was trying to figure my life out.
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Here’s 5 things I wish I did to make that transition period of our lives easier for the both of us.
We all know about communication in a relationship. However, I rarely believe we ever communicate 100% perfectly what we’re feeling, fearing or sensing. It’s in our nature to save face, save the feelings of others we care about or not show weakness. In the case of transitioning from secure to maybe-not-so-secure anymore, the burden of taking care of each other is daunting.
The last thing you or your partner wants to feel is carrying most of the weight. It creates resentment even though you don’t mean to. Partners in a relationship must always feel that what they are doing is in THEIR WAY equal. This is not to say that things are split 50/50 but that it’s a team and the line of communication must make that apparent- again and again.
2. Support comes in many other forms than money
In the beginning, I didn’t know how to show or give my support to Kevin if it wasn’t money. I shot weddings and worked as much as I could on that front, but I had so much to offer that wasn’t being accounted for. Cooking and cleaning is a way of support that’s often overlooked.
Sometimes I feel like the act of prepping for a meal, cooking the meal and cleaning up after meal 2-3 times a day isn’t appreciated as much as it should be. Partners should know that those activities are great forms of support. Also I would look to my strengths and ability to be an extra set of eyes, ears and brains for our business and our lives. Relationships are a team, so never forget to look at it that way.
3. Ask for the time to figure it out
It was in February 2013 that I finally started to get activated, create content and learn about content marketing, social marketing, writing, blogging, podcasting, branding, etc. There was a period of about 6 months that I just needed to sit with. To be at peace with. Taking your mind through a 180 degree change is a process. In a video I made about this, I talk about going through a sort of mourning period. This old version of myself and how I thought about my goals, dreams, place in society, successful or not, needed to die.
Through entrepreneurship and creating content about my journey to my passion in life I was, in a way, born again. However, I want to underline that period of break-down was not the only one. In fact, I continually had moments of breaking down and adjusting and addressing this new way of life I had put myself into.
During that time, there was pressure from Kevin to pursue a more secure job so that I could continue to support us. For me, going back to corporate felt like quitting. It felt like, once again I’m being asked or pressured into sacrificing my own wants.
It took some time, but I learned how to ask my partner for the time to figure it out and give my all to a vision and dream that I had for me and for our relationship together.
4. Have the courage to be vocal about your dreams
Sometimes it’s too easy to keep quiet about your own dreams. Hell, if you haven’t clarified them for yourself, how can you expect to advocate them to your partner? Well, that’s why it was so hard for us. Your own individual dreams and vision for your own life is so important. Without your own brand and identity in a relationship, the bond is more like a dictatorship instead of a democracy. Sometimes, that dictatorship is welcome, but I hardly think that’s your case.
For me, it was difficult to come to terms with what I REALLY wanted to do and be vocal about it because I was afraid, “he” wouldn’t get it or understand. I too, was afraid of admitting I wanted to work from home and make content all day. I had no confidence in my ability to market and talk about branding until I just simply started to do it. I started to be more vocal.
I started to have more opinions. I started to read, write, and learn everyday about this cloudy vision I had for myself. All the while, I urged myself to have the courage to state what was happening to Kevin, trying to keep him in the loop. It’s too dangerous to keep all your dreams bottled away because you can’t voice them or FEEL you can’t voice them.
5. Not feel entitled to support or understanding
Feeling disconnected from each other during this transition period or feeling disconnected period is rarely a one way street. In a relationship it’s hardly ever the case that I didn’t enable my partner to not understand or sympathize with this phase I was going through. In the beginning, I felt lost, and Kevin felt that uneasiness about my status. It’s hardly ever comforting to each other when you don’t know where you’re going.
I didn’t understand that. Looking back, the most important thing is to realize what it must be like for the other person viewing your situation. Empathy really does go a long way. We both were lacking that greatly. Over time, we taught each other how to be more empathetic instead of assuming one thing or another. This is skill is never 100% done.
Even today and I suspect for the rest of our lives together, we will have to remind each other to be empathetic. There is no entitlement for someone who has not created a scenario to be entitled. Your ability to explain, argue (constructively) and discuss your side and your partner’s will be your most valuable tool to get out of any relationship fight/ drama.