For four years, I’ve been doing talks for professional audiences about the lessons I’ve learned from mountaineering that I apply to my professional endeavors in order to be more effective and successful. I expounded on stories and themes to demonstrate that the risk I faced in the mountains reset my concept of risk in my career, making me much less afraid to go for that job, pitch to a new client, present tough investment results to an anxious Board.
And I have often felt like a poser.
I knew that I was not facing my own greatest fear – financial insecurity. Most don’t know that my mother died when I was young, I had an absent father, and I put myself through college mainly on credit cards until I could prove financial independence in my last year of college (I received a grant just weeks before I was planning quit college because I had no more room on my credit cards to charge tuition).
I have gone through life with a heightened awareness that I had no financial safety net. Throughout this last financial crisis, I have seen friends move back in with parents, rely on their working spouse who retained their job, receive a down payment for a house from family members when they got married, receive a one-time gift to extinguish their debt, get help with child rearing from their parents, etc etc.
I admit that I feel a bit of envy and sometimes wonder why I am not deserving of the support that I see others receive, but in reality, I know no different so I can only chart my own path based on my own experiences.
However, this awareness of no safety net has held me back for many years. I chose finance and investments as a career, not only because I was good with numbers and also good with clients, but because I knew I needed to pursue a lucrative career as there was no opportunity for familial support. I am on my own and am alone responsible for the results of my choices.
Three months ago, I left the corporate world and took over a small women’s adventure travel company called Call of the Wild Adventures, Inc. The transition did not go nearly as well as I had hoped, and the first few months have been challenging working on all the back office items (insurance, national park permits, website upgrades, setting up the accounting). I knew it would be tough, but I truly did not expect it to be as tough as it has been.
To compound the challenges with the business, I have been hit with a series of large, unexpected expenses for car repairs, house repairs, computer repairs, medical expenses, etc. It’s made me question whether the universe is on my side in the new venture – I view all of these events as unnecessary tests of my resilience!
Even with all the challenges and doubts, I wake up everyday without an alarm. I get up and make a healthy breakfast and get to work in my home office in my house that I love. There are amazing mountains on the horizon and high desert that beckons for exploration. I talk with clients half the day and I am energized by their enthusiasm and excitement for the trips they are planning!
I still believe and have faith that the universe is on my side. I must hold tight to that belief or I would not be able to continue forward. I didn’t make these major life changes to get rich. I am following this new path simply to align my passion and my vocation for the first time and to reap the satisfaction that I feel at the end of a trip when I see a group of women’s smiling faces after a great experience in the outdoors.
And I can now look into audiences’ eyes and speak the truth when I tell them that I have faced my greatest fear. I have followed my own advice to pursue my passion no matter what the financial risk.
So far it has been worth it!