After my previous leap of faith had failed me miserably and I "failed" to find a career fit that didn't break my heart, I went through another identity crisis and spiritual depression. (Whenever reflecting and writing about my life, I am constantly baffled and asking myself, "How am I still alive?" I have been beaten down and pulverized so many times by life, the critics and my own belief that the critics were right, how am I still alive?)
In the aftermath shame fog, the only thing left that I could do was robotically scour the entirety of the world wide web, looking for something, anything. I stumbled upon an e-portal project with a health organization one day before the application deadline. One. Single. Day. I mean, what where the chances?!?
I'd been running on empty cylinders since I was 14, so making a career 180 from international development into wellness can't hurt. The health organization called me the very next day, on my birthday, to invite me to an interview. What where the chances?!?
Within two weeks, I got the contract, left Asia, moved back to Canada, and was offered 10% more than advertised. Wuuuuuuht?!? There was "more" after the end-of-the-line, which was a maddening fear of scarcity I had when leaving career no. 10.
I took a day off for my 30th birthday, tasted the sweet nectar of a random yoga class at 11am when the studio wasn't stinky yet and grocery shopping at 2pm when there were no queues. And I vowed to never again have a boss nor client who would dictate my hours or my freedom.
By the end of that first client contract, I owned a condo, had $20,000 in savings, another expected $9,000 in tax returns (I became a tax expert somewhere between all the career re-inventions), and stumbled on a marketing e-course that strengthened my resolve to truly establish myself as an entrepreneur.
I had licked my wounds and reclaimed enough of my personal power to hand select the five founding values of my business: talent, creativity, integrity / authenticity, empowerment and profit. And that's how my web design agency was born.
Two months after starting that first client contract, I bought a condo in Vancouver, right by the beach, which was my biggest goal before turning 30.
I loved being around heart-centered, purposeful colleagues again. I was making $5,000 - $7,000 for smaller projects that required 1-2 months of work and $40,000-$60,000 for larger projects that required 8-12 months of work.
I had a regular stream of incoming referrals because 1. who doesn't need a beautiful and functional website and 2. I saw through my clients' greatest needs and deepest desires, ones that they weren't even aware that they had.
With outstanding testimonials, at the peak of my business, I made $60,000 for a project that only required about 4 weeks of full-time work, which I spread out over several months so that the client could keep up with my pace. I remember wanting to decline a project so I quoted the client the highest amount I could think of. They said, "Sure," without even batting an eyelash. Dang it, should have charged even more lol!
I not only had the technological mastery, but also a clarity around a client's brand (or soul) essence, as well as an eye for design, and a playfulness to make the birthing of a website fun and simple. I adored how alive and empowered clients felt when I showed them what e-technology could really do for them.
Also, on a practical level, it was oh-so-lovely not to deal with precarious visas and "alien" residency issues anymore. My nervous system got to rest on birth country soil.
Letting Go / Walking Away
But I let it all go. 😭😭😭 This was by far THE most difficult career identity to let go of. The number of years it took to build this business, double that for the number of years it took for me to let it go. (I wasn't conscious of it at the time, but this career unleashed the gateway of my spiritual awakening. I was riddled with agonizing, "Why, god, whyyyyyy?!?" questions every single day of my life.)
I was masterful at my craft, like 500 shades of masterful. I was paid so well, delivering outstanding work. It had the elements of creativity, challenge and freedom that would fulfill me for decades to come. But, along side it, with all my clients being in the health, personal growth and leadership industries, coaching had nuzzled its way into my blood stream and stirred my red blood cells, in a way that made web design feel like pushing a square boulder uphill.
At the time, I couldn't pinpoint and articulate what I was feeling. Today I can: I resented the Universe for calling me onto a new path, when I didn't even ask for it!!! It made work I adored feel like such a drag. I didn't walk away. I was forced to walk away.
The Universe was unrelenting in its calling of me. For no rhyme or reason, my clients' website started malfunctioning. My remote team started changing career paths and left our partnership one after the other. Out of nowhere, I also developed a clairvoyance into client's self-worth and identity facture, and could predict with 100% accuracy whether a new website or website upgrade would increase their bottom line or not. What is happening?!? I didn't ask for any of this?!?
Fears / Emotional Rumble
Mild irritation at having to "start from scratch" to establish myself in the wellness industry
Grateful for the abundant pipeline of clients
Massive terror of the unknown, with violently shaking hands, unable to screw the lid onto my smoothie cup every morning
Ferocious doomsday anxiety at not being able to pay my mortgage (which never happened)
Fear of using up all my savings and having to admit to financial ruin
Shame from potentially having to apply for a loan (in Chinese culture, cash is king, banks are evil, and it is shameful to borrow)
Constant and agonizing worry at the thought of having to go back to a 9-to-5 job (with the ultimate nightmare of working under a white man)
Upheaval of changing the industry, the sector and the role type, all at once (will never do that again!!)
Fear of failure for the first time*
* This fear is peculiar because I've never failed at anything before. Why would I suddenly develop a fear of failure. Is it because of the upheaval above, or all the "failed" identities catching up with me?!? Don't know...
Fear of success: the more I succeeded the more machetes appeared to hack me down
Fear of not succeeding fast enough
Fear of burnout from succeeding too fast
Exhaustion from bearing the fear of others (they are afraid for me and therefore project their fears onto me, when I already have enough of my own)
Searing pain from recognizing that all my achievements were masks for having no self-worth (which was beaten out of me since very young)
Wind knocked out of me when I learned about how I repeatedly sabotage myself, triggering a full blown identity crisis (who am I then without those sabotage identities in my head?)
Shame at not being able to become the best "white boy / Sillicon Valley garage start-up / sell to Google for millions" I was expected to be
Shame at not being able to claw myself out of the trenches of shame
Resentment toward the Universe for "forcing" me to give up this lucrative and well established career
Serious spiritual crisis, wondering if I even have any free will when the Universe course corrects my path
What is this entrepreneurship nonsense? When will you get a real job?
Wellness, are you insane, you left tech for wellness? [they said that as if wellness itself was a disease!!]
I give up, you're a lost cause.
When are you getting married? What is wrong with you? [I'm sure they didn't have the awareness to realize that their last two criticisms always fell on deaf ears. Yet, they persisted. What a waste of humanity.]
Why haven't you pumped out 2.5 kids yet? What is wrong with you?
You have to let go of who you used to be to become who you truly are.
– Joseph Campbell
Unfolding Destiny / Lessons
Grit: 13/10 | Grace: 11/10
Joseph Campbell said, "You have to let go of who you used to be to become who you truly are." How right he was. Would have been super handy to know this ten career identities ago.
In the personal growth and leadership arena, it was also said that you have to say no to the good to say yes to the great. What nobody ever mentioned was how excruciating it would be to say no to the great, in order to say yes to the uncertain, which eveeeeeentuaaaaaally, with loooooots of time and spiritual maturation, reveals itself to be the divine. It's not like you say not to the great and tada the divine appears on your door step with same day delivery.
It'd take another 2 years until I could ground myself enough to understand and articulate what was happening: the Universe was course correcting me from working for my clients as their web and branding designer to work with them as their coach and spiritual guide. Oh, that's what was happening... Well, I for one had no clue at the time.
I even tried to retrace my steps to that first e-portal client project. For years, I've had a great habit of printing a PDF copy of original job or contract postings, so that there's a paper trail. But for the life of me, I couldn't find anything whatsoever in all my inboxes, folders and backups of backups. It's as if that contract truly fell from the sky to aid in my transition, then vanished without a trace.
It'd take another 5 years until I coined the term freedompreneurship and recognized that the first e-portal client was only one snowflake on the tip of the iceberg. It wasn't setting me up to thrive as an entrepreneur, but as a master freedompreneur.
Have you ever watched a flower bloom. Every petal seems to know exactly where it's supposed to go, without any interference from humans. If a human poked its finger in there hopping to make it bloom better or faster, it would totally ruin the flower.
My greatest lesson and takeaway is that every identity re-invention, now matter how painful it was for me "the human", unfolded like a petal of a flower. Every re-inventing landed me where I was supposed to be. I just didn’t know that's what was happening.
If I had known, would I have surrendered a little sooner or thrashed around a little less? We may never know...
Sacred Brand Archetypes
Effortlessly, I could transform floaty ideas into digital products, vague identities into succinct branding decks, and business aspirations into functional websites. More important, I could help a client see their greatness and glory, and map those onto the world wide web. I was doing this without even knowing I was doing it.
It'd be another 9 years before I fully comprehended the nature of our soul, which is to express itself organically, regardless of egoic control. Here, my soul expressed itself through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Alchemist (primary) and Innocence (secondary). By now, neither of these archetypes were new, but they were new to each other in this primary / secondary expression. Who knew?!?
In this series...
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Computer Teacher (Part 1/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Web Developer (Part 2/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Industrial Machinist (Part 3/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Banking Officer (Part 4/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerospace Engineer (Part 5/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Energy Researcher (Part 6/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Systems Designer (Part 7/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an International Aid Worker (Part 8/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Global E-Strategist (Part 9/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a United Nations Consultant (Part 10/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Web Design Agency (Part 11/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Success Coach (Part 12/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Wealth Mentor (Part 13/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as an Aerial Yoga Studio (Part 14/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Psychotherapist (Part 15/16)
My 16 Careers • Reinventing Identities as a Spiritual Guide (Part 16/16)