“Why I left my comfort zone and opened a cafe”

- May 15, 2017 4 MIN READ

Go to school. Go to uni. Get a safe and secure job with holiday and sick pay, not to mention a bit extra kicked in for when you retire. It seems like a no brainer; and of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, or being completely fulfilled and satisfied with a stable career and living life as an employee. If what you’re doing is making you happy and content, that’s what counts in the long run.

However, for some, this isn’t enough. For me it definitely wasn’t. I discovered first hand how unique a breed the entrepreneur is. I went to university, completed my business degree and spent the better part of a decade in a job within my scope of qualification, predominantly with the same company. Why did I decide to leave my comfort zone and open a café, despite having no hospitality experience whatsoever? Passion. Purpose. My “comfort zone” was no longer comfortable.

People generally do more to avoid pain than to feel pleasure. What does this mean? If something in our lives is causing us discomfort we’re more likely to try and avoid it rather than determine what the cause of it is, take action to address it and grow through the journey. We don’t do this because it isn’t always easy to address. It requires effort to determine the root cause, involves a dramatic shift from what we’re accustomed to and takes a lot of work to establish. Instead, we’ll distract ourselves – shopping, comfort eating, television, gambling…whatever it takes to make ourselves feel ok temporarily.

We learn to run this as a strategy. Those examples of distractions I’ve used are fine in moderation, but unresourceful in excess, and essentially part of an cycle preventing you from achieving your full potential. The cause is left unresolved, meaning once the trigger thought or feeling occurs, the strategy is run. I use those examples of distractions and feel good activities above because those were my vices, until I couldn’t look the other way anymore and I had to face my fears.

I could no longer imagine my life in a cubicle working in a field I wasn’t passionate about, distracting myself every so often in a self-destructive manner. It felt like I was living each day with a giant rock in the pit of my stomach and a split life; the gloomy person with the dread of my career hanging over me like a constant shadow and the person full of passion and unfulfilled potential I was away from it. I felt the heavy pull to bring the two closer together. Life’s too short and I didn’t want to spend it wondering.

Every day I am grateful for that choice. I took a step back and reflected what I enjoyed in life, what my passions were, and where I felt most fulfilled. For me it was people, business, health and fitness. From this my vision for a health based café was born. It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, most of it has been hard. The long hours (15 hour days, 7 days a week especially in the beginning), weekend work and social sacrifices, financial stress and staffing challenges to name but a few.

The limited understanding of those around you can be painful and even insulting in some cases. But the personal growth, self awareness and development I’ve received from my experience has been immeasurable. I’m not the same because of the experience and never will be. Even if things didn’t or don’t turn out the way I planned, I can at least say “I did it”, learned so much from the experience and gave it my absolute best.

From this experience, I have so much more respect and admiration for people who run small businesses and have done so their whole life, and those who have decided to take a chance on a vision and are navigating a start up. I’m with you. I understand. I applaud you. I find it fascinating, because as hard as it is to be an entrepreneur, if you’re doing it for the right reasons it’s also very easy because you’re fueled by passion and there is nothing more fulfilling.

Wherever you are in your business life cycle, making $100,000 or $10,000, you are living life your way and defining happiness on your own terms. Happiness doesn’t have a dollar figure. That’s where true satisfaction comes from. Living a life of purpose and passion.

Self satisfaction, passion and fulfilment can be harnessed in many aspects of life. Those of you who have an area in your life you want to improve, not necessarily a career overhaul, but perhaps your fitness, job or relationships, from my experience then here’s what you need to do:

Ask yourself the hard questions and find out what it is you truly want:

  • Discover why you want it and enlighten yourself. Go deep. For example saying “I want to earn $3,000 per week” isn’t enough. Why do you want to earn that amount? What will it give you? How will it impact other areas of your life?
  • Start taking action towards it. Work out a plan with goals that will stretch you but isn’t unrealistic, and take steps accordingly.
  • Move forward, experience the growth and enjoy becoming the best possible version of yourself.

This is the high level blueprint I followed when I transitioned from being an employee to an entrepreneur. I have since used it to great effect when I seek to accomplish something significant, I trust it serves to give you an alternative way of thinking or approaching your next goal.

And next time you visit your favourite café, restaurant, hairdresser, or local clothing store, think about the people behind the sign who have put in the time, hard work and sacrifice to offer something unique and the contribution they’ve made to your own life and the lives of those around you.

This is a reader contribution. Have you got a personal story about small business that you would like to share? Let us know by sending us a message here or commenting below. 

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