Exactly one year ago I made one of the most courageous decisions of my life, I decided to leap from a cliff with no safety harness, no parachute and I wish I could say with not a care in the world but the opposite would be true. All I jumped with was a belief that my wings would be strong enough to carry me. Guess how it ended? Well it hasn’t yet, I’m still flying. Yeah I may have almost crashed into a few obstacles, injured my wings here and there, lost a few feathers… but I’m free. One year ago I quit my day job to become a jeweller.
Now I’m not telling you to go and quit your job tomorrow! It’s common for people to struggle with a heavy workload and work stress, I still do even though I am free from the shackles of working for a big company whose only care was profits. But the difference is that now the workload is mine, a workload I chose to have in front of me and a workload I absolutely love to do. If you’re reading this then you’re probably in the large majority of people who regularly feel the urge to escape their day job, right? When you’re having a staring competition with that dreaded pile of paperwork on your desk or it’s cyber version on your screen wishing you had the magical power of making it all vanish without a trace and you’re day dreaming of being anywhere else in the world, do you ever think about creating an alternative reality where you love what you do and you get excited about your job? Put that daydream time to good use and start planning your escape route from the job you hate! But first it’s a good idea to figure out what it is you’d prefer to do that will not just pay the bills, but will create a life that you enjoy and don’t need to escape from. These days I plan holidays that involve my work, my travels seek inspiration for fashion and design, I explore beautiful surroundings with wondrous sights and textures to incorporate into my work. Destinations that can be thousands of kilometres away or in the next suburb. I combine exploration with inspiration and rejuvenation so that my holidays are always rewarding for me, for my business, and I never feel the need to escape from my job.
So many people have a dream of what they’d love to be doing “if only I had enough money”, “if only I had more time.” People have a counterproductive habit of spending their time coming up with all sorts of reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t do what they want to do, convincing themselves to just squash their dreams because they’re impractical. But why would you let negativity win? Think about it, if you had children would you give them the advice that their dreams of happiness in life are outrageous, are too hard, take too much work to achieve? I hope not. I would hope that you tell your children to reach for the stars, work hard and take steps towards their goals. So why wouldn’t you give your inner child some love and encouragement? Tell that imaginative child inside you that amongst all the reasons why it won’t work there still remains one reason why it will, and that is worth pursuing. Since the day I started learning to make jewellery I’ve had people tell me “it’s going to be hard” “you’ll struggle to make any money” “manufacturing in this country is dying” an endless stream of negativity did nothing to phase me because I’m the kind of stubborn that charges ahead to prove everyone wrong. I decided that the one reason it WILL work, is because I’m doing it. Because I believe I can make it work. Because I want it to work. And of course because I’m too stubborn to quit.
Dream big, but don’t worry that your dream doesn’t come true in an instant, it takes lots of planning, hard work and persistence to reach your goal. But be proud whenever you take a step in the right direction. “Overnight success” takes years of hard work. Every small achievement you have should be celebrated. You decided to look into your options to change your life… Congratulations! Time to celebrate! You’ve taken your very first step toward reaching your goal. I celebrated with a friend when I made the decision to leave my job, I then celebrated with my old colleagues when I left, I celebrated when I walked into my workshop knowing that this was where I would be spending more of my time, I celebrated when I got lots of orders and I started stressing about whether I was up to the task of finishing them, and then I celebrated when I did finish them. These were not huge celebrations, these celebrations did not cost a lot of money. They were small things that simply recognised the achievement. A dinner out. A spiced rum or time out to watch a movie. Small achievable celebrations that recognise you’re moving in the right direction toward your dreams.
Whatever you choose to do with your life, whatever changes you make to better your life, whatever direction you choose to move in, you will come across obstacles. Don’t think of obstacles as walls that are blocking you, they are hurdles for you to leap, they are doors for you to unlock. Obstacles aren’t mountains that need to be moved, you need to find a way to move around them. You may not understand such obstacles at the time but once you’re past them you’ll look back and be grateful that you had to learn how to overcome them. My first major obstacle after I left my job was figuring out how to reach customers when I didn’t have a shop front and the marketplace keeps shifting towards online sales. Well the problem itself had the answer… I needed to learn how to showcase my brand online, so I enrolled in a “Social Media for Fashion” course and I’m using the skills I learnt to navigate my way around that mountain. I know there will be other mountains hiding behind this one, but I’ll figure out what I need to do when I get to them, no point worrying about a problem that hasn’t come into view yet.
I haven’t always been a positive person, able to easily find solutions and charge courageously into the unknown … My fearlessness comes from having fallen down a deep dark hole, a story in its own right to tell another day, but to summarize in a sentence: My severe depression led me to hit rock bottom. Once you hit rock bottom you’re faced with two choices. Death, or begin the long hard climb back up. I chose to climb, and it took everything I had to climb out of the dark hole I had dug for myself and back up into the world. Along this journey I recreated myself, time and time again until I found the right fit. Knowing I can fall into that deep dark hole scares me, but knowing I have what it takes to bring myself back from the brink of death leaves me with an immense power, vast courage, and a sort of dumb fearlessness that makes me leap from cliffs. When I climbed back out from that hole I strengthened myself, and when I rebuilt myself time and time again I was testing out who I was, who I wanted to be, and in that process I became more me than I have ever felt before. I may fall again, but I’m stronger now and the climb can’t possibly be as bad as it was last time. So don’t be fearful of failing, don’t worry about falling over on your journey towards your goals and dreams, it could be the best thing that ever happens to you, it just won’t feel like it at the time.
I feel really lucky to have learnt this when I was young. My parents returned to University when I was in high school. They both decided in their 40’s that it was time to make a change and take their life in a new direction and so that’s what they did. It took a bit of sacrifice from us all in terms of income and lifestyle, but the reward paid off and it’s a beautiful thing to see your parents truly enjoying and finding fulfilment and purpose in their new careers. Don’t ever feel that you’re too old, too stuck, too far into what you’re currently doing to just stop, take a look around you and change direction. Be the person you want to be, regardless of what you’ve been before.
Don’t think that my life is worry free, I’m not saying that taking that leap was easy and wonderful for ever after, but I trust that no matter what happens in the future, I’ll be ok. I have the power to problem solve, to jump hurdles, to unlock doors and to find the path that overcomes obstacles. I believe in my ability to succeed. I trust my own wings just as you should with yours.
I wanted to make a range of jewellery for those of you who are seeking change, wanting to create a life that you don’t need to escape from. I wanted to use the jewellery to symbolise my own feeling of freedom and happiness after having broken the shackles and jumped from that cliff to fly my own path. And so the “Take Flight” collection was born. I hope you can trust in your own wings if you make the decision to fly.