In the last 9 months, I’ve probably been asked over 100 times about how I worked up the courage to leave my 6-figure income job to chase a dream that does not pay and move across country.
Although I’ve told the story 100 times over, I tell it with the same level of conviction than the last, if not more. As I continue on this once hazy journey, the fog begins to clear. The simple truth is that if it were clear from the beginning, the purpose would have been defeated.
If I learned one thing over my years of bending over backwards for every single company I’ve been with is that nothing is a guarantee. Working 120 hours a week does not guarantee money and making VP at the age of 26 does not guarantee fulfillment. The only sure thing is that each path we go down is meant for us to discover a new one.
My Journey as VP
At the age of 26, I made VP having only been with the company for 2 years. I was great at my job, and was often recruited within my industry. The next step would be to take on the role of a partner, which meant being married to the company for years to come. It looked so right on paper and across my Facebook feed. More prestige, more vacations, more moola, but something just didn’t sit right with me.
I started doing a little soul searching during this period that many would consider a quarter life crisis. What was the point of being the best at what I did if I did not feel 110% passionate about the industry? This was not what I always imagined myself to be in my wildest dreams, and life is too short to not be attempting at making my craziest dreams come true!
I knew there had to be more for me in my career. People get too comfortable with the good, that they forget to chase the great.
People often came to me to tell me that I am a go-getter, an inspiration, a dreamer, and a light to this world. Those were all the things I wanted to be so badly. But inside my heart, I felt that I wasn’t living my life’s true purpose.
Shortly after 27 hit, I asked myself the tough questions. Would I be happy if I died 2 years down the road continuing to build someone else’s dream, while slowly trying to make my dreams come true? Am I making the impact in this world the way that I want to? Am I working my dream job and living my dream life, or has it been so nice on paper that my mind began to think so?
The answers came clear to me and they came quick. I made a list of all the things I loved, and all the things I valued. The list included travel, connecting people, charity, experiences, new relationships, boldness, adventure, love, compassion, music, personal development, and touching people’s lives.
During the time I was fiddling with these deep questions, my attention, heart and soul was gravitating towards something else that caused me to lose even more focus on my work. I had completely fell in love with dance culture over the last few years. My love grew each day as I traveled the country for festivals, breathed, slept, and ate EDM. My enthusiasm combined with my bossy personality naturally made me the leader of my crew at these events.
How I found courage to make the leap.
About a year earlier, my brother and I had even started designing shirts for our friends to wear at these events, which quickly gained the attention of many. People were asking to buy them, but we gave them away for free as no big deal. That created a following, and harvested many friendships beyond the festival.
At first, I thought I wanted to start a music apparel company with a focus on giving back to charity. The simple project began to transform into so much more. I was onto something that fueled me with more passion than I had ever experienced in my life and in my gut. I put in my notice 2 weeks later.
Within those 2 short weeks, I had consulted with my brother and a bunch of friends. Every single person, with the exception of my brother, advised me against this madness. Many said they would kill to be in my position, with my job. They also came from a place of concern, since making 6 figures did not mean I had healthy spending habits.
How long was the $2,000 going to last me if I managed to save none of the $500,000 I had made over my lifetime? How was the mortgage going to get paid? How was I going to continue supporting my parents? How was I going to fund my festivals?
I wasn’t sure, but I somehow had a feeling in my gut that if I hadn’t saved any of my $500,000 I made up to date, I wasn’t going to be that much better off a year later.
I felt deserving of this ultimatum due to the financial mistakes I’ve made my entire life, and it was time for a wake up call with no safety net.
I had been so comfortable that the only way for me to learn, grow, and challenge myself was to get uncomfortable. “One day” was going to come today.
If I knew how to do something, it was to make money. Worst comes to worst, I can get my job back, although I had zero intention of doing so. I could get another job, or worst comes to worst, I can go wait tables in New York City. Yes, I decided to throw one more curve-ball and move from California to New York given the odds and bank account against me.
Fast forward 9 months into my decision…
Many people continue to ask “how it’s going” as a two-part question of Neon Owl and financials. Neon Owl has truly kicked down many doors since we began back in March. From a vague idea of a t-shirt company to an actual music media company generating positive inspirational content, with a focus of giving back to charities around the world!
We hosted our first charity show in San Francisco to help save music programs across the U.S. and currently in the process of planning a huge 2016 event to help build wells in third world countries through generosity.org. People are starting to wear our merch, spread our message and recognize our brand.
I’m not making 6 figures or even close. In fact, I’ve invested whatever money I had coming in from my last job into this passion project of mine, and have not seen a single penny of it back. That’s alright though because I now am living all the things I put on my list of values I made 9 months ago. I’m connecting people through the love of music, creating inspirational content, and telling the stories that are not often told.
The most rewarding piece is when people reach out to tell me that I inspire them.
When someone tells me that if I made all these life-altering decisions at once, they are willing to move out of the city they grew up in their entire lives, or take baby steps in pursuing their dream business on the side. My bank account surprisingly is not any lower than before I left, because I forced myself to be uncomfortable, and learned to live more with less.
I may make nothing compared to what I used to, but I believe that the money will eventually come if I stay true to my passion, and continue to build on something great while giving back. Whatever it is we want in life, we need to give more of it, and it will come back in ways we never imagined possible.
A year ago I had no idea that I was going to go down this path, nor did I know that all the amazing things that have happened would happen so soon. I just felt deep within my heart that this was what I was meant to do, and acted on it. Only when you break down one wall will you discover space you never saw before. 2015 has been the year of breaking down walls, discovering new possibilities, and creating new opportunities. 2016 will be no different, except now I am dreaming bigger, and reaching further!
I found the courage to leave my 6-figure income job to pursue the unknown because the calling of purpose met the stagnant vibe of the good life. I believed that I was meant for something greater, worked up the courage to make the leap, and trusted the process.
I always thought that my greatest fear was the fear of failure. Recently, I realized that it is not. My greatest fear is regret. If I fail, I can get back up and try it again, but regret is something that lingers on for life. Nothing extraordinary comes from ordinary actions, and that is what I remind myself with every time I am faced with a challenge or try to talk myself out of doing something.