Leaving your corporate job and saying goodbye to the 9 to 5 for good means stepping out of your comfort zone. And, as we established last week, one of the best ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable is to take action. Getting moving will get you unstuck, create momentum, and build your confidence to continue on this new path. But what action should you take? What is that very first step you should take out of your comfort zone and towards a new definition of success?
In the past, I’ve always said that the very first step you need to take in order to move towards your definition of success is to get clarity on what that definition of success is. And while that’s 100% true, it’s not that simple. How do you define what success means to you? How do you get that clarity? What are the steps you need to take in order to define what success looks like for you?
The biggest mistake I see people making – at the opposite end of the spectrum from staying stuck in inaction – is to launch into manic action before really taking the time and reflection needed to work out what the right action is. So they might end up booking a big trip away, signing up to an expensive course, or getting a fancy website designed.
The problem is that unless you’ve done the groundwork of understanding what it is you really want to do and why, you may well be wasting your time and money on something that isn’t going to get you any closer to where you really want to be.
So while you do need to take action, and not get caught up in analysis paralysis of all the pros and cons of all your different options, it’s important that this action is taken thoughtfully.
Back to the question of what that first step should be, then, and it’s EXPLORATION.
You probably have a few ideas about what you’d like to do, or at least what you could do, instead of what you’re doing right now. But those ideas are a function of where you are right now – both physically, in your current job role, and mentally, within your limited comfort zone. They may not be a good fit for what you want from your life and career and, if you focus only on those options, then you’re missing a whole world of possibilities. You want to first expand your horizons and imagine all the possibilities! Dream big – and only then should you narrow down your options and get more practical.
Another mistake I see people making is to rule things out before they’ve even considered if it’s something they really want to do. They’ll get caught up in the ‘how’ before they’ve even decided on the ‘what’. There’s plenty of time to filter your ideas and work out what’s feasible, but don’t start limiting yourself before you’ve even begun.
So, for example, you might have always fantasised about publishing a book. Don’t dismiss the idea as unrealistic until you’ve (a) reflected on whether this really is a meaningful goal for you and not just a superficial fancy and (b) looked seriously at what it would take and how you could achieve it. I always wanted to “be a writer” but I never really did anything about it, always allowing that dream to collect dust on that top shelf in my mind. When I started exploring the process of planning, writing and publishing a book, it instantly became more feasible.
The same goes for launching a podcast. It might seem incredibly complex and, besides, who would want to listen to you? But don’t give up on the idea until you’ve done your research on the technology and equipment you’d need and thought about what you could do to make it relevant and interesting for your audience.
Starting a business
Dreaming of launching your own business and being in control of your own time and projects is the ultimate fantasy for many of you and yet it’s one more idea that remains just that, an idea. Or, at the other extreme, you might throw yourself into it and then give up soon after when you find it’s harder than you think.
As you consider leaving behind everything you know in that corporate comfort zone, the first step has to be EXPLORATION:
- Who are you and what kind of person do you want to be?
- How do you want to live your life?
- What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
These are huge questions and not answered just like that. More practically:
- Which are the aspects of your career to date do you want to keep and which are the aspects you want to discard?
- What are the skills, passions and interests you want to turn into a business and what should be kept instead as a hobby?
- Do you understand the day to day of what it takes to work for yourself and are you sure you would enjoy it?
These questions – from the philosophical down to the nitty-gritty detail – need to be explored before you turn your back on your current job and lifestyle and launch yourself into a new one.
Taking your first step(s)
Now that you know the first step needs to be exploring who you are and what’s truly important to you, I want you to give yourself a break. Quite literally, because the best way to get those creative juices flowing is taking the pressure off and creating the space you need to get that clarity.
As we said last week, it’s always helpful to get out of your usual environment – so plan a weekend away, go to an event that sounds intriguing, and say “yes” next time someone suggests doing something that you’d never usually agree to.
Be patient, follow your curiosity, and enjoy the process!
Join us over in the One Step Outside Facebook group to be part of a community of likeminded people as they explore what their definition of success looks like and work on achieving that vision in their day-to-day life.