Birth of a Life-Long Project
Wednesday, June 15, 2016, 4 months have passed since I decided to jump into the unknown and told my colleagues that I was going to quit.
Despite the initial surprise caused by this unexpected announcement, both my personal and professional environment reacted well and showed understanding. The determination that could be seen in my eyes did not give them any other choice.
It was also clear to them that taking the decision to quit my job in order to start a self-fulfillment project was not a passing fancy but the result of careful considerations that started way before I give my resignation.
What was I going to do with my life?
Ever since the day the merciless question “Is this going to be my life?” collided with my mind and took hold of my thoughts, just like a worm digging its way into an apple with the firm intention to eat up the biggest part, I could not stop trying to solve the problem I was facing: What was I going to do with my life?
Clearly, my life would not be summarized in a 9-to-5 job in a Bavarian company, even if this job offered the feeling of safety that anyone can expect from a permanent contract within a dynamic and growing business. Well, in this case, what was I going to become? Ever since I had started university, the only fitting job I had pictured for myself was working as a translator! And now, I had just realized that, even if this job was making me partially happy, it was not enough to give me the feeling of self-fulfillment I was looking for. What was I going to do with the next few decades?
The numerous reflections concerning which direction I wanted to give to my life led me quite often to a video, which I particularly liked to watch when I was looking for inspiration: Steve Jobs’ commencement speech to Stanford graduates in June 2005.
In this speech, Apple’s co-founder tells three stories about his life and explains which lessons he drew from those experiences. While watching that video at the very moment of my reflection, some parts had a particular resonance within me:
“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. “
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Opportunities and fears
That’s when I realized something important: what did I have to lose? I was currently in a situation where I knew I did not want to work as translator and project manager in a company any further. Why not start afresh? Nothing was preventing me from giving free rein to my imagination and gather all my passions together to give birth to a project that would make me feel useful by making a difference and through which I could live a more fulfilling life!
Of course, I feared my closed friends and family members’ reaction when I was going to tell them that I intended to quit a well-paid job in order to start a project with which I could probably not pay the bills and put some money aside. At least, not at first.
How were they going to react once I would tell them that I wanted to get off the beaten path that seamed so secure and reasonable? What were they going to think about me? Was I going to disappoint those I love the most?
However, every time I was assailed by those doubts, Steve Jobs’ words kept coming back to me: one day or another, death is the fate that we will all share. Don’t waist your precious time living someone else’s life. Follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary.
Those words reminded me that, even if my fears were well-founded, they were so insignificant when compared to the thought that, one day, I would look back at my life and most probably regret those opportunities I did not seize rather than the one I seized because it was the easiest thing to do or because I wanted to please those around me. And at that very moment of my life, it was crystal-clear that an opportunity was just around the corner waiting to be seized!
Origin of a project
With this in mind, I put myself at work. If I had nothing to lose and everything to win, I might as well dedicate myself fully to something that would gather my passions together, embody my core values and give me the possibility to fulfill my expectations. I also wanted this project to be more than just an ephemeral work. It had to be a personal project that would turn into a career path, which would evolve throughout my life. Therefore, this project had to contain some specifics of my own.
First of all, I wanted to feel useful. I wanted this project to provide me with a way of living a fulfilling life by making a positive difference into other people’s life through my actions, experiences and reflections. Therefore, my project had to be designed around the idea of self-fulfillment and interpersonal communication.
Then, I wanted to keep working with French, English and German, while staying in touch with foreign cultures. The concept of cross-cultural exchange had to be part of the adventure as well.
Finally, I could not design my life project without including one element which was dear to my heart and which represents beyond doubts the most challenging issue my generation will have to face: respecting and protecting the environment.
Voilà! After weeks of fruitful thinking, I had identified the cornerstones of my future project. However, I still had to find a guideline, the cement that I would use to link the stones together and build a robust structure. Self-fulfillment being at the heart my initiative, it was only logical for me to start there.
In my view, self-fulfillment means living an enriching life in accordance with one’s core values and aspirations. Consequently, I had to experience new things that would allow me to give substance to my values and aspirations. By doing so, I would be able to enrich myself thanks to the people I would meet and gain a sense of self-fulfillment out of the lessons I would learn from these new experiences. Through my actions, I would then put those lessons into action in my daily life in order to inspire others to live a more fulfilling life: “Experience Learn Inspire” was born!
Now, I had to create my first sub-project that would give me the opportunity to walk the walk…
„Be the change you want to see in the world.“