I was only in Canada for seven days. Just long enough to fall in love.
My trip began with three speaking engagements in British Columbia.
One of the many great things about being your own boss is you can take vacation whenever you want.
So after my last gig, a friend and I hopped a plane for a little R&R in the spectacular Canadian Rockies.
You know how certain settings just seem to feed your soul?
Maybe for you that place is the ocean… or the desert… or the prairie.
For me it’s the mountains. (Add a lake and I’m in heaven!)
Check out this view from the summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff…
And at the still frozen but still breathtaking Lake Louise…
And check out this view from the deck of our Airbnb rental in Canmore, Alberta!
As I sat there enjoying my morning coffee this one phrase kept running through my head…
I could live here.
Hey, with a view like this – who wouldn’t?!
Being in Canada re-affirmed for me just how important it is to live life on your own terms.
It also confirmed the approach that helped to transition me from my 90-mile-a-day commute to a cubicle to my comfy home office and the view of Mount Tom that I enjoy today.
I call it…
The Life First – Work Second Approach to Career Change
What exactly does it mean to consider your life before your career?
Well, remember how when you were a kid, adults were forever asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
But do you remember anyone ever asking, “What do you want your life to look like?”
If they had, no one in their right mind would have replied, “I’d love to wake up to an alarm clock, sit in commuter traffic, and spend five days a week working 8-to-late under florescent lights.”
Yet that describes the life of countless, millions of people.
Here’s a novel idea…
What if parents… guidance counselors… and college career advisers had focused less on what you wanted to be when you grew up and more on helping you figure out how you wanted to feel when you grew up?
I call it the Life First – Work Second© approach to career planning.
In fact, I begin every business idea generation session with the same simple question:
What do you want your L-I-F-E to look like?
The fact that you want to be your own boss tells me you have a strong desire for more control over your time.
From here though, everyone’s picture is unique.
Like the vast majority of my clients, you may want to have some sort of home-based business.
After all, being at home automatically gives you more work-life balance.
Other clients crave variety. Maybe you do too.
Maybe you want to do freelance writing or coaching or something that would allow for a portable lifestyle.
Or perhaps you want to have a seasonal business so you can work intensely for six months then take the rest of the year off.
Or maybe you just want to find a way to enjoy summers off to spend with your kids or grandchildren.
That’s why it’s so important to start on the life side of the work life equation.
If you know ahead of time that your idea of heaven on earth would be to not work in the summertime, then you’d know to look for ways to earn money that would allow for this kind of schedule.
That’s why it’s so important to continually evaluate work options through the lens of life.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “There is only one success: To be able to live your life in your own way.”
If you’re seeking a life and not just a living, start by getting crystal clear on what having a life means to you.
If you’re determined to follow your own road then you must take the time to really answer the question, “What do I want my life to look like?”
Then use your answers to evaluate any business ideas to determine if it passes the life test?
From there it’s all about taking action.
You Are Tougher Than You Know
While I was in Canada I had the honor of giving the opening keynote at the annual Spark conference WAY up north in Fort Saint John, BC.
You’ve got to be tough to live in an area with such extreme weather.
On top of that, it’s been a rough few years for the people in a region that relies heavily on the oil and gas industry.
The conference organizers could have canceled the event, waiting for a “better” time.
To their great credit, they chose instead to turn adversity into a positive by making the conference theme… “Inspired by Tough.”
Maybe you’ve had a rough go of it too.
Or, maybe you’ve just put off taking the leap because of all the things that could go wrong.
After two decades of self-employment, I can tell you with great certainty that things will go wrong.
You’re going to face rejection and setbacks. More than once.
You may even outright fail. I know because I’ve done it a few times.
It’s called life.
However, once you understand that all that worrying about what could go wrong only slows your chance to create the life you really want… it changes everything.
As Henry Ford said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin more intelligently.”
Like every successful person, Ford understood that failures and setbacks offer valuable lessons.
Adversity is also what makes us stronger… tougher.
If you’re waiting for that perfect time to jump — forget it.
Start now and remember — you are tougher than you know.
I’m not moving to Canada yet… but I could definitely spend my summers there.
When you work for yourself – anything is possible!