Why turning down my dream project was the best decision ever
From corporate to entrepreneurship
Let’s rewind a few years.
It was early 2013. A few months earlier I left Procter & Gamble to start my own business, a coworking space. A consulting company that I used to hire at my old job approached me to see if I wanted to do some work for them. I was very familiar with the work, so it seemed like it would be easy money. I was flattered they sought me out and the idea of having a steady source of money again was exciting.
Almost a year and a half later (and lots of projects with this company) and I still hadn’t opened up my coworking space. In fact, I was nowhere close. Instead, I was knee-deep in very stressful consulting work and was finally realizing how it was affecting me.
Unforeseen consequences of contract work
I left my job to get out of the corporate world and here I was consulting with a bunch of Fortune 500’s. I hated that culture and the work didn’t feel meaningful or fulfilling. I had way less stress starting my own company than I did working on these projects. I was at their beck and call. There was major scope creep. And while I was making good money, it wasn’t enough to properly compensate me for all the time and stress.
This. Wasn’t. Working.
Making a declaration
If I was ever going to follow my dreams and open up my business, I was going to have to do things differently.
In trying to figure out what that looked like, I got a very clear prompting from God to take a break from the consulting work and focus solely on opening my business. Whenever I’ve followed a very clear prompting like this in the past it has always led me down an amazing path, so I had no reason to believe this time would be any different.
It was a really difficult thing for me to, but I declared that I would turn down all consulting work until my business was open.
Little did I know that doing this was only got more difficult.
Turning down my dream project
Those next few days were a true test for me. I received multiple project offers - one of which was essentially my dream project - going to Germany, doing only the stuff I liked (and none of the things I didn’t), with very good pay.
I was so tempted to take the project, but I knew I needed to be faithful and turn down these offers so I could focus on my own work.
Sure enough, progress happened quickly. Within only 2-3 months (after nearly 2 YEARS!) Platform 53 was finally open and we had a dozen people signed up in advance.
Three months after opening we were generating enough revenue to completely cover our expenses.
The best decision ever
Sure, I could have worked on a cool project for good money in Germany, but at what cost to my long-term goals?
When would the distraction end?
There would always be just one more project or just a little more money.
There will always be a reason to keep going the easy route.
It’s hard to commit to taking the less obvious path, but that’s always where the real payoff is.
For me, the less obvious path was turning down these side projects that seemed great, but were getting me no closer to where I wanted to go. In fact, they were just kept me running in circles. I was taking these projects on just for the money so I could start my own business, but doing so was very thing that prevented me from starting my own business.
Looking back, I probably should have stopped a lot earlier, and in hindsight, that work was far from my dream project (which has nothing to do with Corporate America).
Saying no to your safety net
Yes, doing work just for the money (that doesn’t fill you up) is sometimes necessary, but realize that there’s always a cost, and you need to evaluate when that cost is too great.
Is it distracting you from your dream work?
Is it sucking up all of your mental and emotional energy (even if the time commitment isn’t that great) so that there’s nothing left to invest in pursuing your ideal work?
When the cost is no longer worth the benefit, it’s time to take a leap of faith to pursue the work you were really meant to do - without a safety net.
Yes, it’s scary, but the world needs you to.
Have a game-plan
Do you have a game plan for how your not-so-ideal work is going to get you to doing your ideal work?
Does your not-so-ideal work support your long-term goals? Or does it only hinder you from reaching them?
If they hinder you, then there’s gotta be another way. After all, if your current way will PREVENT you from reaching your long-term goals, then at some point you’ll have to make a decision on what’s more important.
If your not-so-ideal work does in fact help you get to you long-term goals, make sure you really understand how it’s doing that and consider setting up some boundaries and success measures.
For example, if you need to save up a certain amount of money before you can put all your focus on your ideal work, then set that number and when you reach it, stop doing the other work.
If your not-ideal work is giving you necessary experience, write down how you can get the most out of the experience. Perhaps you could setup regular reflection time and strategize how you can apply your learnings to your future work.
If your business is a side hustle or you have a side hustle in addition to your biz, you are likely going to have to make a decision to quit the other thing at some point to reach your business goals.
If you’re like me, you may have to put a stake in the ground to stop taking on side projects just for the money. They were distracting me and draining my mental and emotional energy so that had I continued doing it, my business may have never opened.
This is not to say that you can’t ever have multiple endeavors, but it’s hard work to do more than one thing really well. Each one needs to be really solid and have excellent processes in place in order to delegate properly and put your focus on the new thing. Without this, both are going to fall short of their true potential, and so will you.
Can you relate?
If you feel trapped by your current situation like I did, I’d love to help. I have a process to help people like you figure stuff like this out and I can walk you through it in a 1.5-2 hr Clarity Session. I use it myself when I have tough decisions to make or feel like I’m in an impossible situation.
Why keep spinning your wheels and hating your gig-for-money work when maybe there’s a better way?
Still trying to figure out what your ideal work is?
I’ve developed a free workbook to help you figure out what your unique skills are and how to use them to positively impact things you care about. Download it below. Then go build your dream biz!
I’m Stacy, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you build a kick-ass business out of your skills & passions. Why? Because I think you should love your life and that’s kind of hard to do if you don’t love your work.
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