Move on while the sun shines

Oct 3, 2019

If you feel like building a life aligned with your values and aspirations, the best time is to start while everything else is going well. Learn more.


This week’s been incredibly fulfilling.


A number of students I’ve been working with have decided that, like me, they wanted to end careers they’ve been in for a long time, to work on what truly fulfills them.


Over the last few weeks, I’ve written a number of times about how the best time to start a business, or to start going after your dreams, is while the sun is still shining on what you’re doing.


That prevents approaching that new opportunity with a sense of desperation.


This week, working with these students, I’m reminded of what Samin Nosrat said:


“Endings don’t have to be failures, especially when you choose to end… Even the best gigs don’t last forever.  Nor should they.”


If you’re not familiar with Samin, she’s one of the 5 food columnists for The New York Times Magazine, and author of bestselling book, which is now a Netflix series, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.


She said this after a series of failures, and when she found success in a food market, that she started as a side project, that had ended up being far more successful than she had imagined.


She had more press and customers than she could handle, and investors were aggressively pursuing her.  What she wanted to do was to write.


She could have sold it, but because her name was on it, she decided instead to close it down, to pursue her writing career.


As I reflected on that, I realized that I had gone through the same struggle, as must have been these students who are now choosing to do the same.


Their stories are not mine to share, and so I’ll share my story which has so many parallels with theirs.


I worked hard on my corporate law career.  It wasn’t always smooth sailing.  I had made sacrifices to get to where I got to.


That said, looking at the big pieces and not the small struggles, it had all gone to plan.


By my late 20s, I was a head of a regional legal department covering the Asia Pacific.  By my late 30s, I was head of a global legal department, and on the Board of Directors, and Investment Committees of a fair number funds.  In my early 40s, I had reached my career goal of being a head of legal in a company that was an index stock for a major stock market.


I believed that when I got to my career goal, I would be happy, satisfied.


Instead, I felt empty.  Like there was nothing next.  Nothing left to look forward to.


And so, while the sun shone brightly on my corporate law career, I decided to shut it down.


Emerging from that, was a breath of fresh air.


While I still needed to work hard at starting my business, I stopped worrying about so many other things – from my own redundancy, to funding my retirement.


That’s because I learnt to write my own paycheck.  I learnt about products that could be sold, that would provide recurring income.  I learnt about creating intellectual property that could pay royalties for years to come.


Intellectually, I always knew these concepts.  I dealt with them as a lawyer.  But I always believed it was for the “risk taker”, or the “whiz kids”.


Once I started, I realized that with the current state of technology, you don’t need to be either of those to develop multiple recurring income streams for yourself.


If that’s what you’ve always wanted.  Don’t be afraid to start building something for yourself.


Something that’s more aligned to you and your values than what you’ve been building – even if the sun’s still shining on that.




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