When I first began to ask myself the question:
“What should I do with my life?”
I wasn’t sure where to start….
I knew I wanted to work, be of service and also earn a great living so I could enjoy life too.
I had no clue what to work towards and how to make it happen. I was completely lost. Thus began my search for guides and teachers who could help me.
Back in 2012, I came across a guy called Ramit Sethi and I loved his practical non-sensical approach to careers, psychology and money. I invested in a few of his programs, all of which I learned a great deal from. But the best part? Meeting like minded people here in Hong Kong.
Ironically even though Ramit’s based in New York I found an incredible crew in my home town where we could geek out on topics like personal development, careers, promotions, starting a business, mindset, systems, productivity, fitness etc.
Here’s a pic of us having dinner last year….
One of the people at this table is Aero Wong (second from the right hand side). You may also recognise Belinda (very left) who started her own social enterprise and left her law career behind.
Aero is an incredible guy who’s managed to pivot his way into a success career into technology without any connections or previous background in this competitive field.
His drive, heart, can-do mindset and action that he takes, continues to blow me away to this day and I’m super happy to have him contribute to a 3 part “Women in Action” series.
Over the next 3 months Aero will be sharing one article a month to inspire you to take action towards your dream life and career.
You may be wondering why a guy is contributing to a site that is geared mainly towards women?
I believe Aero walks his talk. He’s changed careers successfully, he’s faced his fears and most importantly he continues to take massive action to change his habits and beliefs so that he can live out his own Neon Life (which is continuing to evolve! Check out his free gift to you at the end if you want to get into tech) I appreciate his perspective on pursuing a meaningful life and career you love and think you’ll love the great resources and references he has to share with you!
With that, let’s dive in!
When Seth Godin was writing The Dip, he promised his readers: I will teach you when to quit and when to stick with it.
My promise to The Neon Life Society readers is the same. But I will also share with you how to ignite your calling, despite your deepest fear.
Welcome to the first episode of the Women-in-Action series! In today’s episode, we’re going to cover:
- When to quit and when to stick with it
- How to ignite your calling, despite your deepest fear
When to quit and when to stick with it
When the Dip happens, you feel like you have hit rock bottom. But you know you’ll feel great much later, after much effort and learning.
The Dip is the long slog between starting to develop a new skill and mastery. It is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment. Been there, done that. You know how amazing it feels to climb to the top of a mountain, after all the bureaucracy and busy work you must deal with – in order to prove to yourself and everyone else that you are good enough to earn your place.
The Dip is where success happens: the moment you should invest the time and the energy and the effort to power through the struggles all the way to next level. In other words, it’s where you should stick with the program.
On the other hand, the Cul-de-Sac (French for dead end) is a situation where you work hard and nothing seems to change.
Many corporate employees are in a Cul-de-Sac. They make enough money to get by. They’re the majority in society because they’re ordinary.
They whine about the companies they’re working for, the government, or they say the economy is bad. They never step out of their comfort zone and do something different, even though they know their career is a dead-end.
The Cul-de-Sac is destination of failure. You need to quit as soon as possible and do something that makes you feel successful.
There’s another destination of failure you might find yourself at, but you might not even realise it: the Cliff.
Seth Godin uses smoking as an example to illustrate this nasty drop-off. Because cigarettes are designed to be almost impossible to quit smoking; the longer you do it, the stronger the compulsion to continue. The anxiety over the thought of quitting just gets greater over time. The classic example in the job market is the person selling financial products he doesn’t believe in – like I was! I lied to myself, telling myself that money could buy happiness. I spent a full year trying to understand this in 2008, and fell off the Cliff. This is another awful route you need to quit as soon as possible.
Where are you now? Are you in the Dip where you should stick with it? Or are you in the Cul-de-Sac or Cliff, where you should quit ASAP?
Many people are fascinated by extraordinary individuals who power through the struggles in the Dip. But I admire an extraordinary person who quit the Cul-de-Sac and Cliff. She sought to ignite her calling, despite her deepest fear.
“What am I working so hard for?” she dared to ask.
On the outside, it appeared she had everything she wanted: a respectable job with an American investment bank, a six-figure salary, a glamorous job title, credentials, and two beautiful kids (she has three now).
Deep down she had an inkling that she was meant for something else, though she didn’t know what it was. She felt like a fraud. Smiley face at work. Tears at home.
Siobhan Barnes turned her something else into The Neon Life Society. I wouldn’t have a chance to connect with you via words without this Neon Lifer. Her calling and obsession moved me to guest post for her readers – YOU.
If you’re reading my words now, then something inside you might be burning. The butterflies in your stomach mean you’re nervous. But yet you’re fearless with the audacity of hope.
It’s not an accident. The law of attraction is in action. Siobhan can help you get all the butterflies moving in the same direction. She quit the Cliff and became a Neon Lifer. She helps high-achieving women in corporate jobs find meaning in their lives and careers. She created this great quiz to help you figure out your career style so that you can ignite your calling.
How to ignite your calling, despite your deepest fear
To ignite your calling, you need to understand what’s holding you back – your fear. Understanding and overcoming your fear will become the driving force for your magnificent future.
I fear many things: Failure; Success; The Past; The Future; The Unknown; Embarrassment; and on and on. I even fear flying cockroaches! I could only kill them as a child because my sister would threaten me if I didn’t.
Ironically, my friends consider me fearless. I wish I were, but I’m not. My secret weapon to boldly work toward my calling, despite my fears, is that I acknowledge them. I acknowledge that the cockroach is not only ugly, but also can fly. Holding a can of insecticide, I dance with the cockroach until I shoot him to death.
I enter the beautiful state of Seth Godin’s wisdom: dance with the fear.
You’re on top of the fear; you thrive on it. Once you know where the cockroach is, it’s easy to defeat it. You can have all types of weapons to deal with it. Sometimes I use insecticide. Sometimes I use a mosquito swatter. Sometimes I use an airsoft gun! Sometimes I just open the window and let it fly away. After finding all of these different ways to dispatch the cucaracha, I’m not that afraid of this ugly creature anymore. I still won’t touch it with my hand, but I have no problem picking up the dead body with a pile of tissue. Unless… it scurries away. Invisible sources of fear are the most horrific! You know the ugly little creature is no ninja in the dark, trying to kill you. But you’re afraid it might crawl on your body while you sleep.
So, I’ve trained myself not to sleep until I uncover the fear and kill it.
What is your deepest fear? What is the skeleton in your closet? Is that a Blackberry?
Are you a worker bee in a grand hive? You keep your head down, wear the power suit and say yes to more work, even though you are already struggling to keep up?
Do you feel like there is no way out, and that the only option is to suck it up and grind it out? Do you feel miserable, isolated and guilty for not being more grateful for the amazing opportunities and people you have in your life?
Maybe there are hundreds of cockroaches in that closet. You repress your true self for so long, and dare not open your heart anymore. You’re afraid. As you grew up you lost sight of your passion and purpose, and tipped the balance into business and in your corporate job.
The moment the cockroaches left Siobhan’s heart, she felt clean, and she saw the 10 year-old girl inside her. That’s when she knew she wanted to be a leader of women, like her role model, Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop. The butterflies made her nervous, but she spotted their beauty. She got them all moving in same direction, and this pointed her to her calling.
Open your heart, once and for all. Let go of your deepest fear. Leave the beautiful butterflies in your stomach, not the ugly cockroaches in your heart. It’s okay not to know exactly what your calling is for now, but you need to let go of those ugly creatures. And let Siobhan help!
This was the first episode of my Women-In-Action series. In my next episode, we’ll learn from a number of Career Transition Stories: People Will Go Where They Can Grow. Techie Baby helps self-taught coders know when and how to land a dream job in technology. If you’re a high-achieving woman and also a techie-wannabe, check out The Ultimate Career Transition Guide for Getting Job-Ready in Tech as a Self-Taught Coder without Relevant Background or Prior Experience here.