You’ve passed me on the street, you wouldn’t have looked twice. You’ll never see my name in Forbes’ Top 50, Top 30, Top-whatever list. You won’t see my face in any of those big magazines. When you look at me, ‘inspiration’ is one of the last things you might think of, because you probably didn’t think much of me at all. And that’s okay, we’ve all got a lot of important things going on.
My name is Karen, but my name doesn’t really matter. It’s my story that I want you to know. My story matters to you, because if a nobody like me can transform my life into a happy, successful and free lifestyle, then you can too.
I quit my full-time job just over a year ago to do my own thing. Mind you, I didn’t even have a game plan at that time. I was working in marketing at one of Australia’s top fashion organisations, where I was paid an excellent amount to do what I love with amazing people while looking pretty damn stylish too. I had the dream job, but one day I gave it all up. It was really hard to leave because my team became my family and it didn’t feel like I was leaving a job, it felt more like I was graduating all over again!
So why did I leave if I had a so-called dream job? Because people change and grow and as a result, the things they want change too. For a while, I thought that things would feel better if I got promoted or a pay rise. But I realised something, success and happiness means different things for different people, and neither a promotion nor pay rise was going to make me happier.
I didn’t know what exactly was going to make me happy, but I knew I had to do something about it if I wanted to find out.
The idea of ‘success’ for a lot of people usually has something to do with money, control, status and power. But by definition, success simply means achieving your goal or purpose. Realistically, we all need money. But most of us have deeper reasons for wanting/needing money just to pay the bills – be it to buy a car, to finally travel to your dream destination, to own those beautiful shoes, to live a specific lifestyle you’ve always wanted, to give their family a good life and so on. It took me a while to realise that if money weren’t an issue, the key thing that I wanted was freedom and by freedom, I mean:
- No time restrictions i.e. office hours, and
- No location restrictions
As long as I set my own time schedule and location, I was successful and most importantly, happy. Fortunately, my social media skills have allowed me to work for myself and explore this free lifestyle.
I swear that more has happened to me in these past 12 months than in my entire life so far! Here are some of my highlights and experiences.
- I left the Monday-Friday, 9-to-5 schedule and the second you leave this routine, you become an outsider observing the conventional rush that everyone else is caught up in. I realised how much I was conforming and not thinking for myself. There’s nothing wrong with this schedule but we naturally get caught up and become less self-aware. I began to think, see and do things differently and it felt refreshing and empowering.
- I travelled to Bali, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong on three separate trips and worked remotely the entire time. It’s not always easy working on the move, but I managed to make it easier each time. These weren’t fancy trips, but they weren’t backpackers’ level either. I was able to learn about new cultures, see new things, meet new people, all the while staying connected to my work.
- I’ve met people from all walks of life who I never would have given my time and attention towards if I had still been living my previous life. They say “your vibe attracts your tribe”, and each new person I met left me with some kind of inspiration, direction and insight into my professional and personal development.
- I gave my first public social media talk at a co-working space called Dojo in Bali and later on began sharing my knowledge as a teacher at General Assembly.
- I’ve helped numerous clients that are small businesses and start-ups find their feet on social media – and these guys usually don’t have a lot of resources compared to the big players so seeing results is always THAT much more satisfying and rewarding, because it just goes to show that hard work pays off.
- I used to make decisions out of fear and avoidance to stay in my comfort zone. Now, I face whatever it is in my path in a matter-of-fact way. I don’t have time to think of “what if?” situations, I just do what needs to be done. When it comes down to it, I don’t have a choice anymore – I have to face whatever is in front of me if I want to keep on going!
- I live a pretty simple daily life of yoga, working from a café, dressed in jeans and sneakers, and sometimes people do treat me with less respect compared to someone who may look a little more successful in a suit, but I’ve never felt happier and I like my appearance so much more now!
So why am I sharing all of this with you? I have two reasons.
We say “don’t judge a book by its cover” but I can tell you now, we all do it, consciously and subconsciously. People won’t say this out loud, but I’m faced with a few things – I’m a petite Asian woman who is 30 but looks 15 (call it a blessing and a curse). I’ve been called “inferior” because of my race. I've had a random person ask me if I go to a nearby English school. I’ve had corporate men talk down to me because God forbid a little girl like me could hurt their ego. I hear backhanded compliments all the time that start with “wow, I didn’t expect someone like you could do something like this.” Open your eyes to the inspiration around you – places that you never expected to be interesting, people you never thought would be your “kind” of people to chat with could be amazing, things that you never thought you’d ever do could ignite a hidden talent… To judge is to simply limit yourself from the one inspiration that could be the spark for you to turn your life around.
The second reason is to stop talking or complaining, and start doing. Actions speak louder than words. If you’re unhappy with your current personal or professional situation, do something about it. It’s not about what happens to you but how you handle it. You only have ONE LIFE, and it’s terribly sad that most people only wake up and do something when they’ve been faced with a life-threatening moment. Don’t let the fear of failure get in the way of what you want to do. I’ve had so many amazing friends (who inspire me!) tell me that they could never do what I do, because they say they’re not brave enough. Like I said, if a nobody like me can do it, then you can do it even better.
The best way to think about it is this – it’s not about whether you’ll succeed or fail. Look at everyone else who has done something to make themselves happy, now stop comparing and just tell yourself that you deserve the chance just as much to give it your best shot.
Don’t waste your time worrying about failure when you could be spending that time living and doing something that leads you to your success and happiness.
My name is Karen, I’m a nobody who is completely happy and doing what she loves with her life.
There are many of us “nobodies” in this world doing what we love. You just don't see it, but that's the beauty of it. Now it's your turn.
Whether it's transitioning into another profession, running your own business, living somewhere new, starting a hobby you've always wanted to try; find what success and happiness means to you and start doing something about it.