Have you ever thought to yourself that you’ve invested too much to pull out of the life you’ve created, even though something is telling you it’s not your truest calling? Maybe you dare not ask, dare not consider changing direction at this point in the game. Most of us feel this way, especially because so many supporters become invested in our story and have a stake in the life we have lived up until now. I want you to know it is NEVER too late to change direction especially if it means following your highest calling. That is why I decided to share my story with you today.
I went to Boston University for acting. My parents struggled to pay costly tuition and grudgingly supported my college years getting a major in a subject they did not think worthy of such time, fees, and support. Everyone knew me as the actress since I was six years old. I went to a weekend theater school and did all the school plays straight through high school. I enjoyed being on stage but I had secret reservations I was somehow a sham. At 17 I had too much ego to look into those reservations. My focus was much more on proving naysayers wrong. So I went to University and pursued acting.
Two things happened along the way that would change my course forever. One was my deepening discovery of yoga and encounter with Ashtanga Yoga. The other was the asking of one of my teachers this simple question: Do you believe you can change the world through theater? To be clear, I do think the impact of performing arts is world-changing, but as I sat with that question, I couldn’t say that I thought I could change the world through acting. I did want to change the world for the better and I had found a practice that I had faith I could do it through. That practice was and remains yoga.
I didn’t just drop acting in one day. It took me a while to investigate the yoga thing and prepare myself to make the transition to yet another unconventional life path. I knew I’d be disappointing a lot of people, both by destroying their image of what they thought was me and by asking them to get behind another atypical career choice. I had to be certain before I could share and change the way others skepticism might rock me.
When I found I was certain and I started letting them know. In the transition time, I spoke less about acting, slipped in some doubts and shared bits about my new found love of yoga, preparing the way for both myself and my community for my eventual coming out as a full-time yoga teacher. I started changing my story.
I was in my late 20’s when this all went down, which some will say is plenty early in life to make a change, but I will argue ANY age is early enough to throw it all away: 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond, if the all is not your true calling. I was as known and wrapped up in the identity of “actress” as anyone in any long-time career and made the same steps anyone will have to, to remove myself from the web of that identity. And it could happen again.
Even now, my role as yoga teacher though still very much present is being tested by my work as a coach, writer, and company director. Which identity will win out is yet to be seen. Maybe I’ll be able to thrive with some blend of them all. Maybe not. What I do know for sure is that I won’t be afraid to walk away from a role which isn’t mine to fill anymore. I have the memory of my first experience leaving acting as a guide and I hope my sharing that memory helps you to identify when it’s time for you to change and gives you the courage to go for it.
Not sure if it’s time to throw it all away to step into the next and better? Below are some questions to ask yourself which will help you find your clarity.
- Are you in a field you’ve outgrown or never truly fit?
- Are you fulfilling someone else’s dream?
- Is there another path calling?
- Has there always been a whisper you’ve been too scared to follow?
- What you would do if you could do the thing which is truly you?
It is never too late to reinvent yourself and do so successfully. Do take the time to ask yourself this self-probing follow up questions as well.
- Am I thinking of throwing my current life away because of fear I can’t succeed?
- Do I often quit when things are tough and jump around from identity to identity?
- Is my reinvention something I’ve wanted consistently for a long time?
- What would success look like and what are the resources I have to get there?
Comment below if you’ve been through or are thinking of going through a major transformation and you use your story to help others. Then take a look at my recent Train Your Brain for Success talk at Women Who Wow where I share my story and offer some other tricks for stepping into a new and better you.