How Did You Know?

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~ Anais Nin

I was recently honored to receive an email from an old colleague who had seen my profile on LinkedIn and reached out about my adventures in South America and my book. She asked a question that I’ve been asked before and one that I have been on the asking end of, so I thought I’d answer it here…

The question: “How did you know ‘enough was enough’ to follow this path?” I’m going to draw the conclusion here that “this path” is in reference to my decision to leave the corporate world and to go wander in South America…to make a big change and do something different.

I love hearing stories of people’s adventures. My favorite question might be “What’s your story?” and then to wait eagerly to see what they’ll say and what they’ll highlight. While it’s natural to focus on the outcomes and the “highs” of a journey, I am constantly fascinated by the spark that ignites the chain reaction in someone’s decisions, priorities and path in life…like asking someone how they met their true love. Did you know right away? What did it feel like? How did it happen? Tell me everything!!

When I trace back my own story, the starting point could be in any number of places really. My memory, which is often selective, tells me that the final trigger came most strongly after returning from the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. My close friend and I had gone there for a month to celebrate our 30th birthdays after planning for four years and it was like a sneak preview into what could be.

We came back from South Africa changed. It is not an exaggeration to say that everything felt possible after that. Having that dream for four years had kept us exploring and growing and learning through the challenges and barriers we had both encountered during that time. There was a goal and a dream, and it was undebatable.

There’s a quote from The Alchemist where Pablo Coelho writes, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” and we had directly experienced this. We had tasted what it felt like to be whoever we wanted to be, laughing, dancing, singing, exploring, embracing every present moment and we were rewarded tenfold.

With this came a big responsibility. How would we keep this alive?

When I went back to work in a tiny office that we were not so affectionately calling “The Cave”, I knew that I had to decide to live differently. I didn’t know what career I wanted to move to and so I decided I needed to go figure that out. I started with what I did know…I love to travel and I learn a lot from getting out of my comfort zone.

That is how I knew. And once I knew, I didn’t really have the option to turn back and ignore the feeling. In full disclosure, it took two more years of preparation before making the leap, but I always knew I would and I was working towards it that whole time.

Anyone else out there have stories of big life changes and how you knew when “enough was enough”?


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Goooooooooooooooooooooooooal

World Cup fever was high in Colombia, with a notable commitment to sporting the yellow jersey…nearly everyone, every day. They even had jerseys specifically made for pregnant women, which there seemed to be a lot of. <Related tangent, they also make mannequins with bigger butts to accommodate for the extra ‘sexy’ gene the women seem to have received in Colombia.>

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Everyone who knows me well knows I have a World Cup “thing”. Celebrating my 30th birthday at the World Cup in South Africa eventually led to the dream I am pursuing/living right now. The party was amazing yes, but the overall experience of planning something for so long and making it happen, the singing and dancing and celebration, the people we met who will forever be in our lives…well, it changed my world. It was after the larger-than-life displays of passion that I knew I needed to go find my passions and I knew I could. (the infamous picture of us on tv below (terrible!) I can’t help but include it. I still love hearing the stories of people seeing us! Shout out to my incredible, passionate partners-in-crime: Katie and Jonathan!!)

2010 - World Cup South Africa - Katie's 2 548  world cup tv pic

Here I was four years later, with the World Cup in none other than BRAZIL!!!, my next door neighbor, promising to be epic in all its fútbol madness glory…and I had tickets. Of course I had tickets. I swore I’d never miss a World Cup again. It was also a milestone marker for me, which I was reminded of when I received many a message asking me 1. if I was in Brazil and 2. did that mean I’d be coming home from South America afterwards. That had been the original plan.

Well, the original plan had changed and I guess I didn’t even realize it. How do you know when things are not working because what you’re pursuing is not right for you versus because you need to keep trying if you really want it? I could easily write a chapter if not a book on this, but I’ll try to keep my rationale short.

My wise friend Christen posed a question to me… “what if there were no wrong decisions?” Another wise friend Henrik tells me that “if you really really want to do something, you can almost always find a way to do it.” I agree completely and I did want to go to the World Cup in Brazil. The truth is that I could have gone and also that it wouldn’t have been a wrong decision. It was when I looked at the things that were making it difficult to go and what was making it feel like it might not be the best thing for me that I realized I had been making decisions towards a different, higher priority.

I had a goal to finish my book and create a life around my passions. I had a choice. Just as when I wrote a check for a loss when I sold my house, once again I was telling myself that the most important thing is this journey of self-discovery and transformation. If the World Cup was truly the most important goal, I would have made more decisions towards that than towards my life goal. Not to be dramatic, but how we spend our time, money and energy is an indication of our needs and our dreams. And in the spirit of that, “we are always doing exactly what we want to be doing, as part of a greater whole”…coming from another wise friend, Jose. At least we have choices to make, albeit not always easy ones.

The difficult outcome was that I would be watching the World Cup from afar, although I did get to take in the champions league final with some local Colombians as a fun consolation prize. The good news is that I know my current journey is the right one and so that is the journey that will work out if I put everything into it…thank you very much ‘law of attraction’. And really how fortunate am I that my choices are either going to Brazil for the World Cup or living in the Caribbean to write my book. “Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!”

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