“Neha, this is more about your ego & attachment to your title & identity of working in tech. This is less about the practical reality of earning less while you build your business.”

These were the words from my coach as I sat down across a Zoom screen, processing my fears & doubts about stepping away from a stable W2 to start my own business.

It was hard to hear those words. But, as I took a deep breath, I knew she was speaking the truth I didn’t want to hear. I secretly hoped that she’d validate my fears & confirm that I should stay in a career (and life) that had outgrown its course. I wanted to be told that having a bigger & more stable paycheck was the responsible thing to do, but here she was, holding up a mirror, reminding me to stay true to what I so deeply wanted to do.

“Neha, you’ll have a financially successful business over time. It’s about your attachment to these labels & your beliefs about worthiness that deserve a closer look.”

I wish I could say everything shifted overnight, but shifts happened over time. It’s not that I now NEVER associate my worthiness with my accomplishments & monetary successes. Still, I am at a very different place today than I was at the time of that conversation with my coach over three years ago. I have a different lens & more expansive metrics as I look to assess the success of my career & my life.

Here are my two big intentions in sharing this story –

1) Unlearning, relearning, working through our fears, and building new beliefs takes time & effort. It was two years after that conversation I finally registered my company. And I know I couldn’t have done it alone and needed a support squad comprising many different people to make that leap. My point here isn’t that everyone should quit a stable job & start their own business but that whatever change we are trying to make, it takes work, period. I say this even more confidently today as I have witnessed dozens of humans make changes in their lives in my work as a coach, and it’s a messy and uncomfortable process.

2) And then the second lesson of navigating fear – Often, fear shows up as X (in my case, it was about losing a stable income). Still, as we unpack & work with our fear, we learn about the different layers beneath it (e.g., identity, worthiness, cultural messages around success, a good parent, and spouse). Again, my point isn’t to NOT be financially responsible, far from it but to notice what other fears are being masqueraded by money (or something else). I see this in my practice all the time where a client will tell me that they are afraid about X, but often there is Y & Z underneath the hood that is also asking to be examined.

I hope my story reminds you to examine your beliefs & choices that may not be serving you. More importantly, I hope it reminds you that you aren’t alone when you try to walk away from a well-trodden path, especially one that our culture rewards & celebrates you for.

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