Guest post by Jaimie Bougie
Making a major lifestyle change can be one of the most exciting and rewarding things in life – but it can also be one of the most scariest things you ever attempt. When people tell you that they’ve made a major lifestyle change, often you would ask why they did it or what was the turning point – that catalyst that caused the change. The ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’, if you will. For me, I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when that moment happened for me.
In my ‘past life’, as I call it, I was a software consultant for a Cisco-based company. I worked from home (which is awesome) but I had to travel extensively (which was not-so-awesome); sometimes I was home for 3 months straight while most times, I was gone week after week after week. The pay was excellent and I was great at my job, but as the years went on, I found less and less joy and satisfaction in my job. It just wasn’t my passion, even if I was considered “a natural” at it. It was the travel that really got me; it wasn’t like I was traveling to awesome cities and far off countries. I was going to Dallas. Or Columbus. Or Phoenix. Don’t get me wrong, those are great places and I’ve met some awesome people along the way. But I was tired of always being gone and going back to the same places week after week.
It was April of 2012 when I finally had my wake up moment. I was in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, getting ready to come home after a long, tiring week. I’m pretty sure I was flying home for just a day or two before having to head back out – that’s life in corporate america. At this point in the project, I was a walking zombie, exhausted by long work hours and too much travel. I remember walking around the airport concourse, fighting an internal battle of whether or not I was should get Jamba Juice or not. Even through all of my travels, I would try to CrossFit on a regular basis and be as paleo as possible. But when you are exhausted, your mind likes to tell you that sure, you’ve earned that sugar-filled drink. I was standing in Jamba Juice, looking at the menu, when I reached down to grab the handle of my roller bag carry on – and found that it wasn’t there. I panicked. I didn’t think that anyone took it – I just couldn’t remember where I had left it. I was that exhausted – not sleepy tired, just mentally tapped out. I started searching everywhere and ended up backtracking back to the security check in point, where I had inadvertently left the bag after going through security. Thankfully it was there and after showing my ID, they released the bag to me.
I remember how I felt in that moment. It was absolutely horrible. I texted my best friend (Taryn Romanowich) and told her how I couldn’t keep doing this. I was just done. She responded with ‘Then don’t. Decide what you want to do, what would make you happy and commit to it.’ (I don’t think those are the exact words but it was something along those lines). I spent the whole flight home thinking about what change I was going to make and how I was going to make it.
A few months prior to this event, I had started talking to the owner of CrossFit Invictus, CJ Martin, about taking over the Invictus twitter account. I was always on twitter anyways and no one was updating it, so I was going to volunteer my services. That conversation snowballed into another and just a few weeks before the DFW airport incident, I had talked to CJ on the phone about a possible full-time position at Invictus. At the time of the event at DFW, the position wasn’t 100% locked down. I was also applying for a position at Facebook, even though I had no desire to move to San Francisco.
Even though I had no positions locked down, Taryn convinced me that I needed a deadline. I needed to just set a date and say – This is the day that I fully commit to changing my life. That date for me was May 1st. Whether or not I had a job lined up – at Invictus or Facebook or anywhere, I was giving my current job my notice and moving on and quitting this lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dogging the lifestyle of the corporate world. It really works for some people and I’ve met many people who are truly happy with being submerged into the corporate world. It just wasn’t for me and that thought had been circulating through my mind for a while at that point.
So I gave that lifestyle a 6 week notice, not fully knowing what would happen when May 1st rolled around. Let me tell you – it was pretty damn scary. No one can say that they make major life changes that didn’t leave them with feelings of fear and doubt. But that’s how you know it’s worth it. When it makes you excited and fearful at the same time. And one of the things that really got me through making this change in my life – and I’m constantly repeating this to people who ask me how I did it – is some advice that I believe I read in the 4-Hour Work Week book by Tim Ferriss. People tend to be over-dramatic about the consequences of their actions in life. And what I mean about that is that many times, people expect the worse of any situation. This is also something I’ve learned during my studies as a psychology major.
So when fear started overwhelming me as I gave my notice, I stopped and asked myself – “Jaimie, what is the worst that can happen? If you take this leap of faith – what is the absolute worst thing that could happen?” So I quit my job. Am I immediately going to become homeless? Will I become homeless after 1 month….3 months….down the road? Not likely. I mean, I didn’t have much money in my savings, but I’m an intelligent person. I could find ways to get by until I realized my passion in life. Will I bring shame down upon myself or my family if I were to fail in this adventure? Highly unlikely. No one likes to fail, but when you do, it’s not the end of the world. You get up, and you try again. Will this risk cause physical harm to myself? Not in the least.
So I sat down and wrote all of this down in my journal; all of my fears, all of the projected outcomes, all of the pros and cons of staying in the lifestyle that was slowly killing me. I basically wrote down every little thing. And then once I saw the big picture, I was able to start checking things off that were just absurd. Was I going to be homeless? Nope – cross that off. Will I bring shame? Nope – another con/fear crossed off. Will I die? Ha – not at all. And once I looked at the final list in my journal, I realized that there really wasn’t anything to truly be scared of.
In the end, I was offered a position at Invictus and I started on May 1st. It has been 17 months since I made the decision to change the things in my life that were unhealthy and making me miserable in order to follow my dreams and become truly happy, and I honestly say that I am truly happy. The advice that Taryn gave me and the words of wisdom that I took away from Tim Ferriss still help me today in making any of my life decisions.
So the next time you find yourself at a crossroads and fear starts creeping up to block your way, take a second to stop, breathe and start crossing off all the reasons you have for NOT following through with your dreams. Start setting goals – both small and large – and set deadlines that progressively get you closer to the lifestyle that you deserve. I don’t expect everyone to make big dramatic life changes overnight, such as the one that I made, but setting even the smallest goals can add up in the long run. If you have a question about goal setting or have an awesome story about a life changing decision you’ve made recently, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to tweet me or connect with me on Facebook anytime.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” ~Nelson Mandela