Today marks three years since I resigned from my corporate job. I had no plan. No other job lined up, no exotic vacation planned, no lottery winnings to cushion my leap. But I was disruptively curious. Why did I no longer have the energy or desire to do anything creative anymore? Why was I so miserable if I had everything I should want? My Curiosity would keep me awake at night, with questions like “Is this really what I’m meant to be doing?” “Isn’t there more than this?”
Don’t get me wrong. I was truly grateful for all of the prosperity I had. But that’s not what this is about. It’s not about “crushing it” or keeping up with the Joneses. It’s about the potential consequences of ignoring your Curiosity. Of blocking out that inner questioning whisper that keeps asking you…are you sure you are okay with this?
I had recently read both The Gifts of Imperfection and Big Magic, and the issues of choosing curiosity over comfort or fear kept coming up for me. And finally the inner whisper of Curiosity became more like a persistent directive, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
So I did it. I resigned from the safety and security of a comfortable office job, and I cracked open the vault of my life savings. I took some time off, and I reconnected to all of the curious creative desires I had been neglecting. I painted, I traveled, I spent long afternoons in the park. I tried to let Curiosity lead me wherever it wanted to go.
Trying new things became my new job. New museums, new restaurants, new hobbies. I fed my Curiosity a daily diet of “never done this before, let’s try it.” I even started this blog, to chronicle my adventures and see what would happen.
Slowly, very slowly, I started to remember who I was. I felt the dense fog of not listening lift and some of the lightness return.
And now, three years later, I have a thriving business I created myself and I get to make and do a ton of really cool and creative things.
But as my calendar has started to get crowded again, with client appointments and meetings and classes and you know…time to do the actual WORK, the fun and creative time gets pushed aside.
Yes, I still calendar all of my creative stuff too, like crafty classes or artist’s dates with myself. And I know how important it is! But I’m going to be honest here: if a client calls, those creativity times are the first appointments to get bumped. When you’re a small business, your livelihood tends to take precedence over any and everything else.
Why do we stop listening to Curiosity? Maybe it’s fear of the unknown. Maybe it’s that we’re just too damned comfortable right where we are.
But here’s why Curiosity matters: if I’m not following my Curiosity, my creativity suffers. My Curiosity is what opens me up, lets me play, experiment, and find joy. It’s like a beautiful flowering plant. If I don’t water and feed it occasionally, it withers away.
And I’ve already killed enough plants, so I’m not letting this one die.
I owe a lot to my Curiosity. These are just some of the adventures I never would have taken if I wasn’t following my Curiosity:
- Started my business, Purple Ink Creative
- Traveled to NYC solo
- Attended Craftcation (and made a ton of cool crafts and crafty friends)
- Became a yogi and then a yoga teacher
- Taken classes on kayaking, soldering metal and Reiki
- Learned to love papaya (work in progress)
Clearly, my Curiosity has led me to some exciting and amazing places. And my business depends on my creativity. I can’t serve my clients well if my creative juices aren’t flowing at full capacity. Plus–a happy me is a creative me. So on this third anniversary of my own Independence Day, I’m reminded that I need to pay some attention to my Curiosity.
How can we choose Curiosity over fear or comfort?
Start listening to that inner whisper when it says “is this really okay for you?” or “don’t you miss being creative?” or “hey, that looks fun, try it out!” PS: If you’ve been ignoring that voice for a long time, it’s going to take some practice to start tuning in again. Just start by noticing when it comes up for you. It might be more often than you think.
When you say no to something automatically, PAUSE. Ask yourself why. Be curious. Can you say yes instead? Why don’t you want to do it? Maybe, just maybe, try on what it feels like to say yes instead.
Make a list of all the things you have ever wanted to try. Make another list of things you have no interest in EVER doing and then ask yourself what it is about those things that make you avoid them. Maybe you’ll move some over to the “TRY” list. I’m a big list maker, but even if lists aren’t your thing, try it. It’s a great, quick way to organize your thoughts. (Maybe it’s the first new thing you can try!)
Leap & Learn
Now you just need to actually DO. Be brave! Start small! Try a vegetable you’ve never liked. Check out a new restaurant, book store or morning walk route. Read a new book, listen to a new podcast, sign up for a new class. Take note how it feels. Are you pulled towards something? Explore that more.
Ignore the Resistance
Remember that pesky Resistance? It’s going to tell you that you’re being silly, irresponsible, ridiculous, etc. Thank it for the warning, and let it go. Get back to your work of being curious.
Bonus points if you keep a journal during this curious time and document for yourself how it feels to try new stuff. I promise you will enjoy looking back on your journey. And it will help remind you when you occasionally lose that sense of joyful Curiosity how important it is to go and find it again. And please come back here and tell me how it goes. I’m so curious!