It didn’t used to be like this. People didn’t just decide they don’t want to work anymore. They didn’t just resign, and definitely not in mass numbers.
People used to be hesitant to leave their jobs. They would suck it up, be miserable, and burn out in the meantime.
But every once in a while, there’d be a silver lining in doing just that. The dreaded pink slip would materialize and that’s when the panic would start to build.
Fast forward and you find yourself at your next job where hopefully things are better than at your last one or you end up starting your own business and call the shots.
That’s exactly what happened to Michelle Kulp. She was a single mom with three kids working a nine to five corporate job in a very high stress industry. She didn’t panic. She saw that it was lucky that she got fired. It was her ticket out of the legal field where she’d spent 17 years of her life.
The Life Changing Celebrity Encounter
Michelle was a huge fan of Billy Ray Cyrus, the country singer of the hit single, Achy Breaky Heart. And because she is an A-type, Michelle wasn’t just content going to see Billy sing at a concert. She had her heart set on talking to him. Then one day, she did.
Meeting Billy Ray was a momentous occasion for Michelle, not only because she was star struck, but because of what he said to her in that meeting. He talked to her about his love of music and said that “even if all the money and face and fortune went away” he would continue to pursue his passion. Then he asked her what her dreams were, but at that time Michelle didn’t have any.
You see, Michelle was in survival mode. She was a single mom of three kids. Her ex-husband wasn’t paying child support. She could barely pay the bills. Meanwhile, her older brother was diagnosed with AIDS and was dying. All Michelle knew then was stress.
Billy Ray made her make him a promise to go out and find her dream and never, ever give up on it. And so she did.
This promise changed her life. It took her a year to find her dream, but she took that promise seriously and pursued it.
Why We Play Small
Whether you are stuck in a dead-end job, are married to someone who’s unappreciative of you, or are friends with people who only take advantage of you, you are playing small. The question is why we do this.
Perhaps, like Michelle, you don’t have a role model like Billy Ray to question your decisions and push you to think bigger. You might not believe that it’s possible to live your dream life or that you deserve it. Or maybe, like Michelle, even when you are on a mission to play big, you feel a little lost.
As Michelle began her quest to find her dream, she was lost. Then one day, she came upon the book by Richard Bolles called, How to Find Your Mission in Life, the same author who wrote the famous career book, What Color is Your Parachute.
After reading it, Michelle wondered how to answer the question of “What do you love to do where you lose all sense of time?” The only thing she could think of was how she loved writing essays, book reports, poems, articles, and short stories for school when she was a kid. Writing, she reasoned, must be her dream because “five hours could go by and it seems like just five minutes.”
When the Traditional Path is Not a Match
Perhaps you’ve taken the traditional career path that your parents expected you to take or the one you saw all your friends take, but couldn’t find yourself in it. Not to despair. The good news is that there are alternative paths. They just require some creativity.
Michelle was someone who tried going down the traditional path with regards to writing. She wrote her first book and after submitting the manuscript to several big publishing houses in New York, she got nothing but rejections. Even the publishers who liked the book didn’t want to publish it because Michelle didn’t have the credentials they were looking for. She wasn’t a psychologist. She didn’t have a PhD. She had life experience.
This was Michelle’s first bump in the road, but she didn’t give up. Instead, she looked at the fact that these big publishers took interest in her book as affirmation that her writing was good. Because this was the 1990s, she put the project on hold and got a job as a freelance reporter to get writing experience.
Then in 2005, Amazon put up their self publishing platform, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This was Michelle’s opportunity to self-publish. She published the book the publishers all turned down years earlier and went on to publish several other books.
Then COVID hit and Michelle came across an article that talked about how having 26 self-published books can create $100k in passive income. In 2020, Michelle put herself on a mission and published a book a month. She also started helping other authors get self-published.
To date, Michelle has written and published over 22 books.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Whether you feel unfulfilled or just want to try your hand at something new, it’s a great feeling to have your work be something you’re passionate about. But just because you love your work doesn’t mean you can’t burn out doing it.
Yes, Michelle loved writing, but as she put herself to the challenge of self-publishing a book a month, she ended up getting burned out. “It was really insane. My brain was turning to mush, just going from topic to topic, book to book, launch to launch.”
As she considered what to do next, she pivoted. In 2021 she took the books she’d previously written and created box sets, Spanish editions, audiobooks. She continues to help her clients publish their own books and as a result of the 12 books she published in the previous year, she collects $3300 in passive income each month.
What You Need to Get Going
As you consider what your next career goal might be, there are three things to keep in mind:
- Whatever you decide on, keep asking yourself why you want to do this work. If you want to write a book, why do you want to write it? Is it for a sense of accomplishment, to sell something on the back end, to be able to say that you’re a published author, to start a movement, or to create passive income? Connect with your WHY.
- Create a deadline for your project. When Michelle set out to write a book, she gave herself 30 days to complete it. You may not have control over every aspect of your destiny, but having a deadline focuses you and gets you into action mode.
- Work with accountability. Having a system or a partner to keep you on track is crucial to your momentum, especially when you get stuck or rejected. You can find a friend who is also reinventing themselves or a career coach to keep you on track. You can stay accountable to your friends and family by publicly declaring your goals. You can even use a reward or punishment to motivate you. If you complete your goal by the deadline you might take that much needed vacation before starting the new job or if you don’t meet the deadline, you might commit to doing something you abhor like sending money to a cause you are vehemently opposed to or burning a $100 bill.
Life Just Happens
Remember how Michelle connected to her passion of writing, but then couldn’t get published? Sometimes, you follow your dreams, you create a deadline, you have accountability, and just when you expect things to move in the right direction, you find yourself at a standstill.
Here’s what Michelle said about this: “And there is just something that happens when we want to do big things and the obstacles show up. I used to think, ‘Are the obstacles here to teach us [something] or are they here to tell us we need to take a different path and we shouldn’t be doing this?’ But I think they’re there to see how bad you really want something.”
I love this notion of resistance. You’re being tested when the obstacles show up. So ask yourself, “How badly do I really want this?” If it’s your passion, you should be able to answer that question easily. But just in case you need some inspiration, consider the magic of 51.
According to Michelle, the move you move toward your dream, the more the universe moves in your directions. When you move 10%, the universe moves 10%. When you move 20% toward your dream, the universe moves 20%. “But something magical happens when you cross over the 50% [mark.] We call it the magic of 51.”
The Magic of 51
As you start working toward your goals to fulfill your dreams, your commitment will be tested. You may start at a 10% commitment, just dipping your toe in the water. The magic happens when you are at 51% or beyond. That’s when you’re all in. When obstacles show up, you don’t abandon your projects. Your commitment is solid.
Michelle started out in survival mode with a ton of stress, but she was determined to meet her idol. After seeing Billy Ray Cyrus perform, she followed him to his hotel room. She faced 20 obstacles that night, but she didn’t give up. She had a feeling that he had something important to share with her that would change her life. And it did.
How strong is your commitment to your dreams?
As we face the Great Resignation, you have an opportunity to pivot from your current job or career and find your dream. You don’t have to play small anymore. You don’t have to follow the traditional path. You no longer have to settle.
You can find fulfillment in your work. Just connect to your why, work with deadlines, and have a system to hold yourself accountable. When the going gets tough, face your obstacles and commit to being all in to see the magic happen.
Just remember: Even when you love what you do, you can still burn out, so don’t overdo it.
If you’re burning out, download the Burnout Checklist to see which stage you are in and what you need to focus on to recover. Go to: www.drsharongrossman.com/burnoutchecklist