Be Bold

By Jane Mountain | September 23, 2014

The other day, I was agonizing over a huge decision. It came out of the blue – I didn’t expect to have to think about this issue at all right now – but here it is, on my doorstep, waiting to be decided.

I had had a meeting with a recruiter, who had contacted me on LinkedIn. He has a job opening in Victoria and quite frankly the job sounds tailor-made for me. It’s part writing, part design. This combination of skills is pretty rare in the digital world, and I’ve never had an employer who wanted to make use of both the word and the visual sides of my brain at one time.

Part of me is jazzed about the opportunity. A secure job with a nice salary, doing what I already know how to do. I wouldn’t have to worry about paying the bills or punting for work or where my next job was coming from… yup, it sounds pretty attractive.

There’s only one small problem.

I have other dreams.

Oh What A Perfect Day

The other day I sat down and did an exercise suggested by Sean Ogle at Location 180: what does your perfect day look like?

Mine went something like this:

Wake up when I want, yoga, shower, breakfast and coffee on the front deck. Sit down to work, outside or in a comfy chair in a small room with bright colours. Spend the next few hours working – writing, designing, and communicating with clients. In the late afternoon I would meet with friends for a bike ride, a swim, or a paddle around the lake. On the way home, I’d stop by the store for fresh ingredients for dinner. Stephen and I would cook together and eat on the deck overlooking the lake.

There’s nothing in there about sitting in an office for eight hours a day, nothing in there about working on other people’s priorities, or spending my energy earning money for someone else. There’s nothing in there about commuting, or office politics, or all the things that go along with a nice well-paid office job.

When I look at it this way, I realize there’s really no decision. I’m sure the job would be great, I’m sure the people there are awesome, I’m sure some other person will be perfect for it. But it’s not right, right now, for me.

The Enemy of Success

I realized that the only thing really drawing me towards a permanent office gig is fear: fear that I can’t make it on my own, fear that I won’t get any clients, fear that no one wants to hire a wickedly talented writer and designer (if I do say so myself).

As I wrestled with this decision, and every time my mind fills with doubts about being my own boss, I keep reminding myself of one thing.

Be bold.

And so my mantra for 2015 is born.

And One Other Thing

Right after I left the recruitment meeting, while I was deeply considering whether to put my name forward for the job, the song Antichrist Television Blues by Arcade Fire came on the car stereo. Ignoring the darker themes of the song, the chorus, which is repeated over and over again throughout, is this:

Don’t wanna work in a building downtown, no I don’t wanna work in a building downtown.

I don’t usually believe in signs, but this one was a good reminder of what I do and don’t want out of life.

What about you? Are you being bold, going after what you really want? Or do you just follow along on the easiest path, hoping it goes somewhere good?  


  1. Comment by Jim Stamm

    Jim Stamm September 25, 2014 at 9:46 am

    If it is still on your doorstep, my 2 cents worth. Just as one draws a straight line in the sand, it does not turn out straight when one examines it more closely. The line isn’t as straight as time progresses either. It isn’t even there after some time has passed.

    Your perfect day (aka a straight line) will change. Might as well direct that change under your control. Instead of replacing, try adding. You CAN have your cake and eat it too.
    You simply have to add a little here, subtract a little there, squeeze a little, rationalize a little, etc., etc. We’ve seen you guys do this. You are experts at it. Just upscale it, and your goal becomes one of modifying your job toward your dream, and your dream toward your job.

    Of course, you will never get there. A dynamic intellect will prevent a static dream perception. So, you might as well go for both. In the future, replacement will be more problematic than elimination.

  2. Comment by Natalie

    Natalie September 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I am living the consequence of making a fear-based decision, having accepted a long-term contract with a Very Large Company, instead of staying on an open-ended contract with a much smaller ad agency. I agonized over the decision – literally struggling with it until I the very day had to report to the new gig (yesterday) – because the smaller company couldn’t guarantee enough hours for me to get by until client work picked up again, and for some reason, I didn’t think I could figure out how to scrape together enough extra work to get by.

    In the end, I went against my gut. This even after a friend reminded me of my efforts of building a life of teaching yoga and coaching that doesn’t include cubicle walls, florescent lights and stale, recirculated air.

    I was nearly in tears after I left the new office yesterday.

    Thankfully I still have a foot in the door at the ad agency, continuing to do project work in my off hours from the other gig. And while initially it didn’t appear things would be picking up again at the agency until January, it’s now looking more like November. I’m not happy about having to tell the recruiter who placed me at the Very Large Company that I made a Very Big Mistake. But if I am being true to the goals I’ve set for myself in the last year, then I know in my heart and soul I must go – and that I must never, ever make a choice based on fear again.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      I’m no stranger to making fear-based career decisions. There was a time in LA when I was very happily freelancing all over the city, and then a Very Big telecom company (ahem, you may know who I’m talking about) offered me a job. I don’t need to tell you what happened next, but at least I made some amazing new friends there!

  3. Comment by rowena

    rowena September 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

    If you are ready to make some sacrifices to the God of Freedom, then I’m with you all the way. I’ve been being Bold (and scared) – for almost ten years now and it rocks – mostly… Of course it’s scary, and of course you never know where the next buck is coming from, but, weirdly so far it’s worked out, and somehow, something always turns up – and I believe in signs – big time. Follow your heart Jane and go boldly… being free is worth it.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Thanks Rowena. I’ve always admired how hard you work to get where you are, being your own boss and in a super cool career!

  4. Comment by Cassie

    Cassie September 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I’ve had lots of discussions (arguments?) with friends about this. While I love the idea of going after the dream, I’ve always been a realist. I was never able to afford the luxury of turning down a job, and so, I’ve always worked for someone else. All things told, working for a university is a great job. It comes with plenty of politics and annoying coworkers and a commute (a lovely 15 minute bike ride :)), but it also comes with benefits, a steady pay check and a retirement plan – all things that I appreciate greatly. Unlike some of my friends who love to look down on those who ask themselves “Am I doing what I dream of doing?”, I fully support that process. But I can’t help but see it through the eyes of a person who hasn’t really had the choice to do anything else but work for someone else. It’s a complicated idea, because each person’s approach to it is completely different and personal. Considering my family grew up as renters on a farm, relying on milk and cheese from the government, I’d say landing my own career with house and car is doing well. And so on one hand, perhaps I am doing what I really want. If money were no object, would I do something else? Perhaps. But it’s interesting to find that good and interesting things still come your way, even in all of the regular, mundane stuff we do. After all, life is a beautifully mundane thing.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 23, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Cassie, I totally know where you’re coming from on this point. I have always worked for someone else, from the time I was 14. My parents had money, but they forced independent earning on us early in life. Most of my career has been jumping at new opportunities as they were offered – so not going after a dream but just letting things come to me as they would. Most people have a quick solid answer to the “if money were no object” question. I never have (except when I was younger and wanted to be a rock star), so instead I am now focussing on the things I truly don’t want, trying to remove the negative energy from my life. I am lucky, because the skills I’ve gained along the way are transferrable and desirable, so if things don’t work out, I’m pretty confident I can get a new job right quick.

  5. Comment by michael moldofsky

    michael moldofsky September 23, 2014 at 7:58 am

    sometimes a song is just a song.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      And sometimes a song is an epiphany.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen September 25, 2014 at 2:19 am

      Says the man who works from home…

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