Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash.com

Written by Wendy Quan, Founder of The Calm Monkey
June 19, 2019

“I’ll never be an entrepreneur.”

This was something I said for most of my life.  

I had a corporate career of over 25 years that gave me a sense of security, a paycheck, and wonderful health benefits I was accustomed to. A few times I had dabbled in doing consulting work outside of my job. I quickly realized how much work it was, and how interactions with my consulting clients were very different–being the “service provider” rather than an employee. That’s when I proclaimed I would never start my own business.

“Never say never . . . ” a very wise statement!  

In 2011, I humbly began leading mindfulness meditation in my corporate workplace, not realizing how this would change my world. At that time, I had just undergone the life-changing experience of a cancer diagnosis, treatment, difficult decisions, and reintegrating back into my stressful job. As the organizational change manager at a large health insurer in British Columbia, I had an admirable career. But to be honest, I wasn’t happy. The constant stress of corporate life didn’t seem to fit me any longer.

The humble beginnings of running mindfulness meditation sessions at lunchtime for my co-workers snowballed into a series of events that led me to eventually quit my corporate career. I’m happy to share how I started lunchtime meditation classes and the wonderful impact it had on employee stress levels and change resiliency. Please see the peer-reviewed, award-winning white paper, “Meditation – a Powerful Change Management Tool.”

Mindfulness Brought Clarity

I’d learned how to become very aware of what brought me the most joy in my life through my personal mindfulness and meditation practice—helping others discover mindfulness and meditation. I learned to cultivate gratitude in my life and develop a clear vision of where I wanted my life to go, no matter how far-fetched it may seem.

The Courage and Patience

Admittedly, I spent four years working in both my corporate job and starting up my business on the side. My business was pioneering at that time! I seemed to be the only one offering meditation facilitator training and certification in a very practical way.

People didn’t need to invest the time or money into becoming a meditation teacher. My business coach informed me, “Wendy, you need to know that being the first to offer a service is the hardest type of business to start. It’s going to take determination and patience, and saying goodbye to your friends.”

I’m not a patient person, so it was rather painful to slowly build my experience and courage and to wait for market readiness. I trusted the process and believed that I’d know when the time was right to take the leap—quit my career and devote full-time to my business.

The Leap

The time felt right to take the leap when my passion become undeniably strong and I had good indicators of interest from the market. Being recognized for the white paper led to a ripple effect of teaching and speaking opportunities! I was invited to speak and teach at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. This produced even more opportunities.

Leaving my career meant leaving a lot behind. I wondered how much I’d miss the daily social interactions with so many great co-workers. It was time to seriously let go and look forward, not backward.

Some of my fears never materialized; my true friends are still my friends. Some of my fears did come true—the extreme fluctuation in income and the occasional loneliness of working at home.

As an entrepreneur just starting out, you need to learn everything with limited funds. But I always live by, “feel the fear and do it anyway.” You can’t grow and move forward without doing things that scare you. I see this as an adventure.

Since taking the leap and offering facilitator training, I also love to help people through difficult change using mindfulness. I ran a study where I combined my knowledge of change management with mindfulness meditation, and the results were remarkable. This grew into the Dealing with Change Toolkit which is now being used by individuals and companies.

Living with Purpose and Passion

One of the main joys of being an entrepreneur is the freedom to do what I want. I choose when I work, when I play, and when I meditate. However, I’m working many more hours than I ever did in my corporate job–the upside is that I’ve never felt more fulfilled, purposeful, creative, and happy in my life.

With 20/20 hindsight, I can now look back during that time of significant transition where I felt uncertainty, fear, and excitement. Today, I still feel all these things but in a different way . . . because these are all part of the human experience.

The key here is regarding life as an adventure. Wouldn’t life be rather boring if everything was easy, and we knew what the future held?

If you’re personally going through a transition or coaching others, perhaps this will help.

Pain and discontent in our lives are what motivate us to do something different. But often we get stuck in the fear of the unknown. Staying in this state of stuckness isn’t fun and can certainly get us down.

No life change comes with guarantees, that’s for sure. We’ll gain and we’ll lose, but if the motivation’s strong enough, taking the leap is what can offer us a different, more fulfilling life.

As the journey unfolds, what helps greatly is just trusting the process. Living through your transition with conscious awareness will let you fully experience the ups and downs, so life doesn’t pass you by. Whatever happens will happen, and you’ll be able to deal with it. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway is what makes life interesting and allows us to grow and learn.

Muster up some courage, plan enough to reduce some risk, then take the big leap! Only look forward, and not backward. Don’t expect perfection. Most of all, feel your future success and celebrate all the small wins that lead you to where you want to go.

Hear more of Wendy’s story and her mindfulness and meditation training in her recent One Idea Away Podcast episode!

Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash.com