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Are you ready to take the risk to blossom?

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about the cataclysmic change I made nine years ago not even realizing that I was gearing up to take a similar leap again. Here’s a snippet:

People thought I was crazy to leave my life in the States for a volunteer position in a remote Mexican village…In June of 2002 I quit my job to work for 6 months in southwest Mexico!

By quitting I was giving up all semblance of financial security, with no guarantee that I would be able to find employment when I got back. The risk was compounded by the fact that I’ve always been my family’s primary provider, and my field is notorious for its dearth of good jobs.

Still I went, and I had an amazing adventure. When I returned it took me two (rather anxious) months to find a job, but it turned out to be my dream job. It allowed me to work part-time with Latina women (a population I love),  and I made even more money than I had at the full-time private practice I left. The hospital administration even allowed to bring my baby to work with me for the first two years of his life. I’ve been very happy with the job for the last eight years.

But recently I became aware that I was less-than-satisfied with it. At first I didn’t want to look at it. I almost couldn’t believe that the job I had loved so much just doesn’t have the same pulling power it once did. It used to make me tingle with anticipation, and now it’s about as exciting as an old sweater, and serves me about as well. Sure, it still fits, but it’s also moth-eaten and smells a bit of mildew.

When I’m taking care of women having their babies, I feel truly blessed. But the fact is there are a lot of aspects of my work – and every employee knows this – that are less than ideal.

Often we cling to the old because it seems safe and secure. But I think Helen Keller put it best: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”

So in an economy decidedly less rosy than it was 10 years ago, I considered whether or not to resign from a job that offers steady pay and great benefits, including medical and dental insurance for my whole family, and again give up all semblance of financial security, with no guarantee that I’ll be able to support my family.

And guess what? Last month I did it. I resigned. I could write another essay about  how I did it (with long conversations with my husband and my inner trusted sources), but for right now I’ll just share another one of my favorite quotes, this time from Anais Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

This has certainly been true for me in my life, over and over again. I’m very fortunate to have lived a life free of any great tragedy, but still I have experienced emotional pain and it’s most acute when I’m ignoring my inner guidance system.

When I am listening, its wisdom motivates me to take actions that are in alignment with my deepest values. Sometimes this means staying where I’m at  and enjoying the view. Other times it means navigating uncharted waters.

So I can report from my current perch that it is scary and very uncomfortable to put my boat in these waters, but I’m committed to taking the journey. What I know from taking big risks in the past is that I grow and truly “blossom” because of them.

My husband may not be convinced that it’s such a great idea, but my trusted sources are certain that I’ll make a bigger difference in the world, and be happier doing it, by leaving the good job and creating something GREAT.

So dear readers, what motivates you most often – avoiding perceived pain, or seeking daring adventure? Have you also been willing to take the risk to blossom? What was your experience? Are you willing to take some (small or big) risk right now, and what do you hope is the outcome?