Many people ask me (some version of): Why did you jump the corporate ship and strike out on your own?
The very simple answer is: Happiness.
It was time to follow my bliss and save my soul from becoming dark and empty.
A 5-day women’s writing rafting trip down the Colorado River in August 2005 gave me the kick start I needed. Day 4 was white water — 7 rapids to get through. Going through the 5th rapid, my boat caught a wave, slapped up against a canyon wall, bottom first, and stuck there. I tried to hang on, but gravity had other plans. I had to be rescued.
After that excitement, and surviving the 7th rapid, we floated along calm water. As I sat quietly, my mind got back on track and the reality of the danger I had been in rushed to the surface.
I told the 3 women on my boat that tears were coming on, so they shouldn’t freak out. Someone suggested that I look up – somehow looking up helps ease anxiety. Okay. Nothing to lose. I looked up to the tops of the canyon walls and took a few deep breaths. I noticed motion up to my left and I focused on that.
Had to be a bird. I watched. No, too small. It fluttered about and kept coming closer. It turned out to be a butterfly. It was pristine white with yellow striping on its wings. Stunning.
I figured it would fly and journey across the water. It didn’t. It flew toward me. I stretched my arm out and it landed on my index finger. I felt its feet (?) grab on. I shook my head in disbelief. I mean, seriously? This creature flew all this way and landed on MY finger at THIS moment? Really? I had to be hallucinating. It flew off after a few seconds, continuing across the river and disappearing in the reflection of the sunshine off the water.
The 3 women on my raft had been talking to each other this entire time. I said, “Did anyone just see that?” They all had. It hadn’t been my imagination.
The first night of the trip each person in the group drew an animal tarot card from a deck, just for fun, around the campfire. My ‘animal’ was the butterfly. It represented ‘rebirth’.
Here it was, mid-August in Utah, in the canyons, on a wide river. No butterflies to be seen until the day we hit the rapids. I saw 2 Monarchs, at different times, before we reached the white water.
I never imagined I’d see the 3rd butterfly after being sucked into the rapids, spit out far from my raft, and about to lose my cool after being rescued.
I flew home a couple days later, and as the plane touched down in Boston, the tears finally came. The message finally received. I knew I couldn’t live in a box (cubicle) any more and I couldn’t be in a job that didn’t satisfy my soul. It was time to create my new life.
I gave myself 6 months to come up with a plan. I gave my notice and was out on my own 7 1/2 months after the river trip. Not a single regret.
It’s incredible how life can change with any 1 decision that we make.
Next week I’ll share some of the (financial) decisions I needed to make in order to feel comfortable with my plan to become a full-time freelancer.
Lisa J. Jackson, MBA, became a small business owner specializing in writing solution briefs, case studies, white papers, e-books, and more after an amazing rafting trip down the Colorado River. She works with businesses of all sizes across many industries on topics ranging from marketing to small business management to manufacturing. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.