How Long Do You Plan to Wait?

September 18, 2012 | ChangingCourse.com

The great Olympian Carl Lewis said, “Life is about timing.” So is the decision to make a major work-life change.

Over the last week I’ve taken calls from dozen people all desperate to find a way to take control of their life and time by transitioning from having a boss to being their own boss.

Some have been Changing Course followers for a relatively short period of time — from literally a day to a year or two.

Others have been reading this newsletter for three… five… ten years. Two people have followed me since I began this newsletter some 17 years ago!

You’d think I’d be happy to have such loyal followers. I am flattered.

But am I happy? Not necessarily.

The whole reason I started this business was to give people the information, inspiration, and ideas to be able to change course. If I somehow inspired you to launch a small enterprise — great! And if staying connected to me helps you stay on track — all the better.

But what about the people who’ve been reading this newsletter for up to 17 years and have yet to take a step?

I’m not judging. But the connection between how long someone had been thinking about changing course and their willingness to act was both unmistakable and telling.

Some of the people who called did so because they wanted to know if I could help them come up with ways they could make money doing what they love. The vast majority of newer “fans” followed through and booked a laser session.

The “old timers” mostly took notes about how the process works. But they weren’t ready to commit.

Then there were calls I fielded about the upcoming business start-up program I’m leading on how to become a licensed Profiting from Your Passions® career coach. They began saying remarkably similar things…

“This feels like what I was born to do.”

“This is exactly what I want to do — thank you for making this class so affordable.”

“I’ve spent three decades doing work everyone told me I should do — but I hated every minute. I feel like I wasted my life. Now I want to help other people not make the same mistake I did.”

What I do is not for everyone. So I never expect everyone to work with me. However, I couldn’t help but notice how often people said something I’d heard thousands of times before. And I’m not talking about my course.

People with a wide range of dreams will be super excited about the prospect of going to culinary school or becoming a dog trainer. Then the opportunity presents itself and they say the same thing…

“I need to think about it.”

Sitting on the Fence of Life

In the meantime a lot of people sit on the fence watching other people open their retreat center or write their children’s book or become wine experts.

Or they go from guru to guru. They take in tons of advice — but never follow any of it.

Days turn into weeks, then months, then years, and soon entire decades have passed. And before they know it, the “thinkers” are wondering where the time — and their dreams — have gone.

For the record, I’m an advocate of thoughtful decision-making. Reflection keeps us from grasping at every shiny object that comes along. And there are plenty of legitimate reasons for not taking action.

At the same time, far too many people make decisions with their head while ignoring their heart. It’s what put a lot of us on the wrong career path to begin with.

The world is full of unhappy nurses and sales managers who now regret that they made the “logical” career choice. They know they’re on the wrong path. And they know there are steps they can take right this very minute that will put them on the right path.

But still they think and think and think but never act. And that’s a shame.

There Are No Coincidences

I’m not one to throw around words like “magical.” But time and again I’ve seen what happens when people step into their dreams. The smallest step can lead to pure magic.

Take registered nurse Alicia-Joy Pierre. With not one but three websites, including TransitionsinNursing.com and another business aimed at helping other nurses to think outside the job box, Alicia-Joy is clearly entrepreneurial.

At the same time I know that some people struggle working on their own but positively shine in a partnership.

So when another nurse registered for the live version of the Profiting from Your Passion® class in Connecticut I connected her with Alicia-Joy. Now they’re both enrolled in the coach training class and already talking about collaborating.

Finally there’s Stephanie. During a laser career session I learned that Stephanie’s life-long fascination with politics had been sparked by a high school boyfriend.

But rather than follow her dream of going into public policy she spent the last two decades in the mental health field. She also wanted to live by a lake. That never happened either.

Even if she could get into policy making — which at this point in her career Stephanie was pretty sure she couldn’t — the vast majority of policy jobs are in Washington DC. So living lakeside didn’t look too promising either.

Or so she thought.

Within weeks of taking action Stephanie not only was invited to chair a local advocacy group but much to her surprise a prestigious public policy center is located two hours away — on a lake.

And in a remarkable twist of fate, after not seeing her old high school boyfriend for decades Stephanie ran into him in a shopping center parking lot. There truly are no coincidences.

As George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Whether you’ve been a follower for seven minutes or seventeen years — it truly is never too late to stop thinking about your dream of changing course and start acting on it.

Life is too short for regrets. So get off the fence and take that first step.

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