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Losing residents to pursue their dreams: bittersweet inspiration

Last week we farewelled one of those residents who has been a major contributing factor to the amazing energy we have built here at Grid. The fact that we won’t see her smiling face everyday is sad. The fact that she is going out on her own and embracing the unknown is not. 

Sophie has spent the last eight years working in project management for web design and development firms, the last three of those years with 3months. Fleeting thoughts of stepping out on her own steam freelancing first surfaced back in 2008 when she was made redundant – a situation brought on by the global financial crisis and compounded by the fact that she was still pretty new to the scene and lacking the level of experience that employers were on the hunt for at the time. She eventually found a job, but not before spending a decent amount of time considering the reality of going it alone and enjoying the sense of control the idea brought. 

It wasn’t until the 3months team moved into GridAKL that the freelancing thing really resurfaced. Sophie said that being surrounded by people who were taking those risks and branching out on a daily basis (and succeeding) was an inspiring environment to be in and one that has brought her to the understanding that the right time to do anything you want to do is right now.

Its probably worth noting that Sophie was not 100% sure that she wanted to go out freelancing when she made the decision to leave 3months…but she was sure that she wanted change, and knew the only way was to just set the wheels in motion. The thing is, more often than not, urgency creates action. In one night, Sophie created her website, signed up with a cloud accounting app and registered her digital consulting business SKM Digital.

If you deliberately put yourself in a situation where the choices you make become sink or swim decisions, you will very quickly focus your energy into exactly what you need to be doing to get where you need to be…and in the same thread, distractions become all the more obvious. 

There are so many things that prevent us from taking steps towards achieving goals and living the dream. Fear is king of them all. As someone who is a great dreamer but less of a great doer…I find this topic super relevant to my own headspace and the things that I know hold me back. I went on the hunt to find some legitimate and effective advice to apply when it comes time to put a plan into action and start not only goal setting, but taking the right steps needed to achieve those goals effectively. 

Firstly, stop talking yourself out of your vision.

We tend to spend a whole lot of energy mentally listing reasons why we shouldn’t make the leap to something different, or something more in line with our personal dream. “I have a good job”, “I don’t even know if people like what I do”, “What if it doesn’t work out”. Let’s stop doing that. Start thinking about all the reasons that you should take the leap…even if only to stop yourself wondering what if. It’s painful. The alternative can’t be worse right. I write. I love to write. I could list a million reasons off the top of my head why I can’t just go all in and start writing with a career in mind. But I only need one reason why I can. It’s what I want to do. 

Stop feeling like an impostor.

We cannot compare ourselves to every single person out there doing what we want to do. There will always be someone more successful, more knowledgable, more marketable. That does not mean you are not an expert at what you do. It means you have your own way of doing it. Which will have its own audience or client base. In my head, it sounds like this. “There are a million writers trying to make it out there…and a huge proportion never do. What makes me think I’m different?”.  As cliche as it sounds though, there are not a million writers like me out there. There is only me, and if I never put my perspective out there to world, I will never know how many other people share certain aspects of my outlook and self-expression. This goes for any passion based career choice. 

Think about the three biggest fear inducing aspects of that vision, then start separating them into achievable actions to begin moving forward. 

For Sophie, a lot of this fear was based around the day to day realities of running a business – she had no idea where to start. So, she just started. 

Her advice?

  • Talk to people who have done it before. Get an idea of where to start.
  • Don’t know how to use cloud based accounting? Call the help line. Ask the questions
  • Don’t know where you sit on the tax threshold? Call IRD. Ask the questions. 
  • Don’t understand the financial aspects? Make an appointment with your bank manager.
  • Pour yourself a whiskey, put on some Gil-Scott Heron and start brainstorming (this is clearly my input). Build a website or get someone else to. Just do stuff. One small step at a time very quickly can become leaps and bounds.  

In fact, start separating every aspect into achievable chunks. 

Make a 10 year plan. Then split it into a five year plan. Then split it into a one year plan. Then decide what you need to get done in the next 6 months, the next fortnight….today. Break it into things that you can do. One by one. You would be surprised how soon those little things start to join together to make the bigger things seem suddenly closer and more realistic. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I am by no means an expert on any of this. Quite the opposite in fact. I do however learn quickly as I go, and the more I see the rad humans around me throwing caution to the wind and embracing what they really want, the more excited I am getting to start setting myself targets just to smash them out of the ballpark. I want that sense of satisfaction so bad. I think we all do. 


Casey McLellan is the Community and Events Coordinator at GridAKL