On income, impact & being called on my bullsh*t.
I quit my job on Friday out of the holy blue. After 18 months working online as a freelance copywriter and marketer, I decided late last Wednesday night that I’d had enough of hustling for other people. I’m sure my client was as shocked as I was when I announced on Thursday that I would be leaving the team after the week was over. And, despite having no real follow up plan—aside from the loose intention to put all my time and energy into writing and building up my coaching practice—I knew on a gut level that this was the right thing to do. I’d spent weeks writing in my Morning Pages about money; obsessively breaking down exactly how long I’d have to keep working for other people before I paid off my debt and could finally focus on having an impact doing meaningful work. Then, on that particular evening when chaos erupted—as it did every week—it hit me that I was choosing this situation. I didn’t have to keep limiting myself in this way.
So, with only a few thousand dollars in my bank account, very little income and just as much debt as the week before, I left the security of my “regular” job as a digital nomad so I could fully explore what I was capable of when I had the time and energy to focus on my own work. Additionally, I have been thinking about what I can offer to the local community that has welcomed me here in Nosara. While I love the freedom that working online allows for, I am also keen to feel grounded in my new home and think that contribution and collaboration are the perfect ways to do that. I’ve already started trading with a local conscious coworking space—Tribewire—and have plans to start running workshops in partnership with them in the New Year. I’ve met another writer from the UK and her and I will be running a week-long writing intensive here in March 2018. So, really, “quitting” feels more like committing to what’s fully possible for me in this space.
Here’s the thing that I’m learning about living in the jungle-ocean of Costa Rica: it will call you on your bullshit if you let it. This place will reflect back at you both your potential and your shortcomings. In the most gracious way possible—with the most glorious backdrop of palm trees and sunsets and surf—it will give you the insight and resources you need to face your bs head on. Despite the outward-facing pura vida lifestyle that this corner of the world is known for, not everyone can make it here. A few people told me this when I first arrived and now I understand why they said this. You think you’re moving to paradise and what you get is the opportunity to see, with breathtaking clarity, who you are and what you’re capable of. The jungle-ocean gets under your skin and demands that you feel into your mighty. Tenderly, unapologetically and honestly.
It doesn’t happen all at once and, if you stick around long enough, you won’t be able to avoid the deep shifts the jungle-ocean is asking you to make. It’s so much easier to duck in and out of a place like this than it is to be in the discomfort of having to let the world in. And not just any world, this world—wild and salty and so bold. This truth dawned on me slowly over the course of many mornings spent watching the sunrise from my surfboard out past the break. It felt like there was something rising inside me and, eventually, the only thing it could do was spill over and wash away what was no longer meant for me. Which left me with the only thing I ever needed to do the work I feel called to do: myself.
On that fateful night last week, I was asked to do some last minute edits on a slide deck for an upcoming webinar. I couldn’t make myself do it. All I could think about was how I am a skilled writer and coach who has so much potential to change lives and here I am being asked to correct basic spelling mistakes. Just as I was asked to do the previous week. It felt so wrong. This could not be the work I was meant to be doing. Not even trying to prevent these recurring mistakes was the work I was meant to be doing. Of course, this was not all my job entailed. And, I had stopped caring. My integrity no longer lays in the quality of work that I was able to do for other people or in my ability to deal the stress of disorganized deliverables. What mattered was that I was owning up to the scale of impact that I am able to have if I put my skills to use in the ways I know I am capable of doing.
This choice to be free is not perfectly timed. I don’t have my debt sorted and am still so aware of the weight of that albatross around my neck. There’s so much up in the air right now—and I’m not so foolish to believe that I know how this will all turn out. My decision to take this risk and put all my faith in myself and my abilities is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. If I fail, I only have myself to hold accountable. At the same time, I would never forgive myself for not taking this leap. If not now, when? In a world where so few humans know exactly how they want to have an impact on the world, I do. So it feels like nothing less than a crime to not pursue this path with reckless dedication and love. Because here’s the thing: the jungle-ocean may be calling me on my bullshit and I am practiced at staying in the process of uncomfortable change. I know that as long as I stay open to opportunities and I am generous in the way that I nourish what’s available to me, that I’ll be better off than when I was avoiding owning up to my full potential.
This, love, is the work. It’s deciding that today is the day that you choose you. Today is the day that you quit what is no longer serving you so you can commit to what you’re actually capable of. Which should feel like you need a bit more air in your lungs. It should feel like a question that you can’t quite name yet. It should feel like you’re stretching for something that’s just out of reach. And, if this seems impossible, please talk to me. Tell me what you’re longing for.
Let me show you how to do the work, love. How to choose impact over income and how to let the world call you on your bullshit. I promise that it will set you free.