Many of us have been taught to go to school, work hard and pick a career based on what society tells us we ‘should.’ We’ve been pressured to squeeze ourselves into predefined boxes. But, the world is changing, and so are career possibilities. Ideally, instead of forcing ourselves to fit a mold, we would live a life that feels authentic to who we are and get paid for just being ourselves and doing what we love. Today, this is a real option and reality for many.
Janne Robinson is a shining example of someone embracing who she is, crafting an authentic life and not only paying the bills, but financially thriving. So, if you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Who actually are these people that get to do what they love and get paid?” read on.
Robinson is a poet, author, literary consultant, life coach, director, motivational speaker and founder and CEO of This Is For The Women – a media and apparel brand on a mission to empower women to “walk tall like an old cypress tree with confident fire in their life and take up space.” Her “why” – to empower people to live their truth and to be authentic – underpins all areas of her work and was born from her own struggles with feeling trapped in living out of alignment with her true nature and desires. She’s walked the path from misalignment to discovering and following what she loves. When I spoke with her recently, she shared with me her story of how she transformed her life, what she’s learned and advice she has for those seeking to do the same.
1. The first step to being in alignment is realizing that we’re not in alignment; and having self-compassion for that.
I asked Robinson what she would say to someone who is currently in a job that they don’t like. “ Knowing what we don’t want to do is just as valuable as knowing what we do want , so the very first step to being in alignment is realizing that we’re not in alignment. Then, a lot of us beat ourselves up with that awareness so it’s important that you have grace, empathy, compassion, and gentleness with yourself and go, ‘Ok, so I stepped out of myself. I’m not in myself right now.’”
For Robinson, this realization occurred 6 years ago when she was selling condos while also bartending and serving to pay the bills–she felt lackluster and trapped. Having always loved travel she tried to sustain her spirit through frequent trips. “I would go away on these trips to tropical places and have these beautiful experiences where I would feel full and alive and then I’d get back and realize that it wasn’t sustainable because the trips were like these little bandaids. I needed to have a life that was an experience with more lasting contentment.”
2. To find your passion, explore and get honest with yourself. Then put the critics aside and go for it.
Robinson says, “I still remember sitting in the condo show suite, I remember what suit I was wearing and just being like ‘You know what? British Columbia is beautiful and I want to be by the ocean and so I’m going to go there. And I’m going to look into journalism and creative writing programs.’” Writing is something Robinson had always enjoyed and so she took a brave step toward herself in relocating and pursuing her passion.
For those who don’t yet know what their passion is she recommends exploring.
“It’s about trying new things. I believe all of us can be teachers and singers and writers and painters or whatever, we just have to apply ourselves and our energy to those things to see if we like them. I once met this man surfing who told me this beautiful thing, he said, “If you walk into a room of adults and ask who can sing, everyone’s going to be like, ‘No, I can’t.’ But if you go into a class of kids they’re going to be like ‘Yes! I can sing! I can sing!’” When we’re kids we’re excited about everything and we believe in ourselves and then we become adults and we’re so skeptical. We need to get back in the dirt and play to find what we’re passionate about.”
Robinson also says it requires “getting really honest with yourself about what your passions are and putting aside the critic that is inside of ourselves and the critic from our families or partners that might say you can’t make money or any of the other stories that we hear. You have to just go for it.”
To help you gather the courage, she adds, “It’s important to note that the economy has really shifted. Having a degree no longer means that you have a job. I think it’s actually safer to be an entrepreneur in this world than it is to have a degree and work for a business. I think it would be encouraging for people to understand that and be a little less afraid.”
But, Robinson is also a realist and very grounded in what it takes to build a successful business or start a new career. “You don’t need to be really drastic and quit everything and go cold turkey and be broke. It’s ok to build your business and wade in the waters of your passion and do that in a supported way. That’s fine,” she says.
3. Give yourself time to build. And a mentor can help you see what’s possible.
Slowing wading into the waters of a new career is exactly what Robinson herself did. While putting time into her business on the side, she took a few years working various odd jobs – bartending, serving, even for 9 months working at a butterfly garden and the reception at a small hotel in Costa Rica. “When I worked reception it was quiet so I could write,” she says.
Shortly after taking the leap to move to British Columbia, she also worked as an intern for a film-maker, Dianne Whelan, who would become an influential mentor – someone who was already living an authentic life and thriving at what she does. “I got to work under someone who was fully in alignment in her power,” Robinson says. “Her films have won at the Cannes and Banff film festivals so not only is she in alignment and courageous, but succeeding and that was super liberating to see,” she adds. From her, “ I learned that a lot of it was just having the courage to take up space. To just say I’m going to go contact these people and I’m going to try. Because there so many ways in which we sabotage going after what we love.”
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