If you think starting is hard, finishing is harder.

When I started my new business, I knew it would be hard. I was wrong. It has been relentless. So many times I have thought – why? Why did I give up my well paid, safe, secure career to leap into the unknown and pursue a purpose that I believed in?

Yet here I am. Nearly one year on from creating START NOW – a service to help people re-imagine their careers using design thinking – I’m still going. Why?

Because for me, going through the effort of creating something new – whilst a journey filled with uncertainty and at times a lot of fear – it’s worth it. It’s worth it because the effort brings learning, and frees me from the dread of growing old and wondering – what if? What if, I had just tried that? What if it had worked?

The reality is of course though, that starting things is much easier than finishing. I have already crossed through boundaries of belief about myself and my company that I didn’t even see coming – like invisible glass walls, you walk into new obstacles and find out things you didn’t know you could or couldn’t do, every day. Often you ask yourself is it worth it? Should I turn back? The war to win is not against starting, its against continuing relentlessly to believe you can make it and the outcome will be worth it.

As I approach my first year anniversary, I’m sure there is more glass walls to come. But I would rather crash through them and learn what is on the other side, than live a life not knowing if I could.

If you are unhappy in your career, you have to start by choosing effort. Choosing to invest in building a pathway to something new. Resisting the temptation to stay comfortable, to choose familiarity over possibility. You have to choose to change with courage and conviction – knowing, full well, that it won’t be a straight line. It won’t be a manicured, smooth walk. Go into it knowing that you will learn, you will fail at some things, and you will win at things you didn’t even know you could.

But make sure you start. Because ultimately, without effort, there is no satisfaction. Ghandi is famous for saying “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory”. I applaud all those who choose the unknown everyday over the smugness and safety of a career that doesn’t keep them warm.

If you are considering whether what you are doing today is what you should be doing in the future, start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Can you say that the work you do today, is truly your calling?
  2. At work, do you feel you are able to express your personal beliefs and values?
  3. Does your work bring you security and peace?
  4. Can you imagine yourself happy, if you do the same thing, for another 10 years?
  5. Do you know what you want to do next, and have a clear path for how to get there?

If you’re answer to any of these questions was No, maybe you should consider making a fresh start.

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