I can’t tell you how many people have told me this past year how brave I am. I find it quite flattering but also a little odd. I haven’t gone to war, climbed a mountain, or slain a dragon. I simply decided to quit my job.
So what is it that we’re so afraid of, that leads people to call such a step brave? Is it a fear of the unknown? A fear of failure or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, a fear of being successful? Is it rather a fear of what we’re leaving behind, of giving up a feeling of job security along with a steady income?
Brave or not, 2013 was a year of change for me, and with that change came a great deal of reflection. I spent a lot of time reading books and blogs, discussing different options with friends and family, analysing pros and cons. In the process, my eyes were opened to other people’s (yep, I’m going to use the J-word) journeys. What do they prioritise and value in life? What are their goals? Are they happy in their jobs? What are the things they wish they could do but don’t? What’s stopping them?
As part of this continuing exploration, I’m kicking off a series of interviews with people who have made big changes in their lives. I’m calling the series Fearless Fridays (I do love a good bit of alliteration) and I’ll be publishing a new interview every month. Often it’s a question of someone moving from a corporate environment to pursue their true passion or to achieve a more balanced lifestyle, but that may not always be the case. Perhaps it will be about making time for their passions outside of working hours, or even changing still within the corporate world to a role or company that better fits their values and interests.
By definition, I’ll be focusing on people who have made a big change, but I’ll also be interested in talking to people who are very happy in their jobs and see no need for change.
My first interview is with Mike, whom I met during one of my Basel weekends. He absolutely radiated with positive energy and confidence and it was incredibly refreshing and inspiring to talk to someone who seemed so content with who he was and what he was doing. I was keen to understand how he had got to where he was now, and what words of encouragement he might have for others who haven’t yet found that level of certitude that they’re on the right path.
Leaving a corporate job behind to follow your passion: From marketing rock star to actual rock star
Mike Low is a musician and kinesiology therapist. He composes, sings and plays piano rock with his band The Mike Story. Go back two years and he was a Junior Brand Manager in a cosmetics company, working long hours with little or no time for music. Today, his songs are all about personal stories of finding inspiration, losing people you love, and getting back on your feet to follow your own way. You can get a free download of the single To Be Free on Mike’s website.
1) At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?
I had spent another long day at the office. The automatic shades of the building went down, once again telling me it was time to call it a night. I was tired, ill, and decided to leave my job to follow my dreams instead!
2) What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?
My biggest challenge was worrying about whether I could make enough money to put food in my mouth and pay my rent. And it seemed tricky to get a regular part-time job with a high-flyer CV like mine (top-performing business student, with international work experience in China, USA, Australia, Germany, Switzerland).
3) Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?
The emotional support came from my partner, all of my friends and my family. It was my 28th birthday and I organised a party with a live concert. Everyone said how much they enjoyed my music and encouraged me to take the next big step.
In terms of some financial security I got a job offer at Pure Aveda Salon and Spa. They welcomed me with a part-time job and seemed to be the first company not intimidated by my CV.
4) What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?
I get to do what I truly love. My big passion has always been music and alternative holistic medicine. Now, I get to do both and feel so blessed to make a difference in people’s lives. Also I have a much bigger impact on how I want to create the atmosphere of my working space and thereby attract patients and concerts that fit with me as a human being.
5) What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?
Know what you absolutely love doing, get a little security net if needed, close your eyes and jump! YOU CAN DO IT. I‘m more alive than I have ever been.
Mike is currently recording his album TO BE FREE, planning his CD release concert on 19th April 2014, while starting the final year of his Kinesiology education (complementary therapy). Watch a video of Mike’s story that he created as part of his CD Crowdfunding campaign.
Have you made big changes in your life and want to inspire others to do the same? Or maybe you’re 100% happy staying put where you are and want to make a case for being satisfied with what you have? Get in touch to share your story!