I Turned Down My Dream Job to Join The Circus

I was sitting on my faux red leather couch when I got the phone call every young college grad dreams of. 

It was a large publication in San Francisco.

They wanted to offer me a prestigious editorial position at their magazine. It was basically my dream job that would afford me - what I thought - was my dream life. 

“We’d like you to start next week,” the managing editor said on the phone. 

I should have been elated. Yet something inside of me tightened

Just two days before, I was in Berkeley pitching my services to - what could be - my first paying client as a freelancer.

The client wanted to work with me. It would be more than enough money to pay my bills. 

So, sitting there, on my couch that day, in my tiny, 250-square-foot studio that sat in my old boss’ backyard - I realized I was at a crossroads:

Take the dream job, or take a chance on my dream?
 

It was a moment that I knew would shape the rest of my life.

Despite every logical reason to take the full-time job with the salary, the benefits, and the security, I didn’t. 

I took the freelance client.

And thus started the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. 

Entrepreneurship is not unlike joining the circus (not that I know anything about being in the circus - but I can guess):

  • Many people thought I was crazy
  • Some people thought it was exciting
  • It was - and is - at times scary
  • It’s exhilarating
  • It’s exhausting
  • It’s a journey filled with all sorts of other colorful characters who have dared to be different. To let their freak flags fly and follow their own paths. 

Yes, being an entrepreneur is quite similar to joining the circus.
 

You never know when the show is going to be a smashing success, or when you’ll have to struggle to fill the seats, performing all sorts of acrobatics and tricks to wow your audience. 

But there has not been one moment I regretted turning down that "dream" job in San Francisco. 

Because those dream jobs will always be there. Someone else will always be building companies that require positions to be filled. 

But do you want to help build someone else’s dream - or build your own? 

When I took on that first client, living in my tiny studio and scraping by, I never imagined that I would be where I am right now.

This morning I’m sitting in a luxury suite of an upscale hotel, staring at beautiful snowy mountains out the window. I’m still in bed (after getting a glorious 11 hours of sleep), sipping gourmet coffee and deciding what I’d like to do with my day. 

Maybe I’ll sit in front of the fireplace in our suite and work. Maybe I’ll make a yoga class at noon. Maybe I’ll bundle up and take a walk in the chilly, crisp, clear winter airPoint being? 

Choosing to take a chance that day many years ago enabled me to build the life of my dreams.

It’s not easy or glamorous by any means - but it affords me the freedom that I know most entrepreneurs yearn for. Choosing freedom often takes turning down other dreams. The key is knowing which dreams are worthy of your pursuit. Be honest, get quiet. You'll know. 



 

How I Made 8K in My First 40 Days of Business

It's been three months since Andy and I sold everything we own and decided to go life a laptop lifestyle. 

Yesterday we arrived in Lake Tahoe - one of my all-time favorite spots. We have this cozy, dreamy little bungalow that's perfect for the next few weeks of fall weather, pumpkin carving, and working in our jammies ;)

Even more exciting? I just finished a brand-spankin' new FREE training series called 90 Days to Dream Clients. Watch or listen to it here.

In it you'll learn exactly how I went from a broke freelancer to making $8K in my first 40 days of business. 

See, I didn't always have the freedom to travel, work from wherever, or do what I love for a living. 

And, during those days I was really struggling, I often thought that this whole being an entrepreneur thing just wasn't going to work for me. 

Ever been there? 

And I remember knowing that a lot of people who had wild success stories (like, I made 20,000 in 3 days!) also weren't telling the whole truth. 

Which was that they had a spouse who was covering their expenses. Or a huge amount of money in their savings. Or they were living rent free at their parents' house while they built their businesses. 

I didn't have any of those things.  

And that's why this training is so near and dear to my heart. 

I'm that woman who thought it wouldn't happen for her - and it did. In less than 90 days. 

And I'm sharing exactly how I did that in this new training series. 
 

Watch or listen to the 90 Days to Dream Clients training


In all honesty, if I can do it, you can too. 

Lots of love,
Mara

How I Got Started Online

 

The past never makes a whole lot of sense until you're looking at it from the future.

Ex-boyfriends, for example. Side ponytails. Global warming.

It's not until after it's done that you can sit back and say, Ah... I see now why that was a thing. 

Sometimes when I look at the progression of my life, I'm reminded that each phase was a stepping stone to the next. There's always a reason you are where you are NOW, wherever that might be.

It's because you're planting the seeds for where you will one day be. 

I started out online writing horoscopes for Astrology.com. True story. (And in case you're wondering, yes - there's an element of truth to them, but there's an element of fiction. Take your horoscope with a grain of salt.) 

From there I branched out and started writing for other sites. I became an eHow writer. A Healthline writer. A managing editor for a big women's lifestyle website. A ghostwriter for a New York Times bestselling author. Then a copywriter. Then a marketing coach. 

And guess what? That's only in the last several years. 

The one thing that's been consistent from the start, however (and by "start" I mean birth), is that I knew I needed to make a living doing something I loved. I wasn't cut from that cloth where you slave your days away in some miserable cubicle to climb some elusive ladder that leads to - what? Money? "Success"? Security? 

Nuh-uh.

My soul feels crippled when I'm not doing work that means something to me. 

I meet women - and men - all the time that tell me how cool it is that I work for myself. They say things like:

1. You're so lucky! 

2. Wow - how cool. I wish I could do something like that. 

3. You're living the dream, aren't you?

To which I reply (sometimes more in my head):

1. Luck has nothing to do with it. I've worked hard. I've made sacrifices to get here. And you can too. 

2. Yeah - it is really cool to do what I do. But you can too. 

3. Totally. I'm living MY dream. Because I made a choice to do that. You can too. 

If you're having trouble translating your passion into a business, you can't get the momentum going, or you just seem stuck trying to get more clients - here's what I would say:

Know that you were made to do what you love. 

You wouldn't have the desire to do these things if you weren't meant to do them. 

We all have to start somewhere. I started by quitting my job at a PR firm to begin a freelance career that didn't pay well but made me happy. From there, I hustled and I pivoted and I tried and I failed until I built my business. I had part-time jobs to help pay the bills. I lived on my savings. I put expenses on credit cards to invest in business growth. 

I didn't have a lot of help, but I did it anyway. 

So start today. Start somewhere.

I won't lie to you and tell you it's going to happen overnight. Or that you'll be a success story in 60 days. Or you'll get 10,000 followers on Twitter. 

Nope.

But the amazing thing is that when you take action, things start to happen.  

Trust me. 

It's the law of momentum. You just have to start getting in motion and eventually you'll be barreling down the path of your dreams. Totally unstoppable. A force to be reckoned with. 

If you're ready to make a living doing what you radically love?

Keep your eye on your inbox. I'm opening up a brand new program soon that is perfect for the woman who's tired of not starting. Tired of "maybe one day I'll do that." Ready to grow her dream business. Aching to do the work that's in her soul.

Can't wait to tell you more. 

In the meantime, be where you are today. Know that it's pure perfection. It's you writing the story of your life that will one day make sense in retrospect. 

xoxo

Mara

When You’re Miserable, You Know You’re On The Right Path

If you saw my morning routine, you might think I’m slightly weird. 

I wake up and brew my coffee (or tea, depending on how jittery I’d like to be that day). I read some inspirational material, do a quick mediation, or listen to a YouTube video of crashing waves, rain or birds. Then, I pick up my journal and proceed to reframe all the terrible, negative thoughts I’ve already had in the first 20 minutes of waking up by writing down positive affirmations.

Simply put, I’m a warrior for my own happiness. I treat it like a full time job. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.”

It’s true.

And lately, this has been especially true, because I’ve been miserable.

Now, I’m a person that’s careful with my words.

I believe thoughts and words create your reality.

But I also believe that sometimes life just throws you a shit hand, and it’s OK to admit – even for a fleeting moment  – “Things are hard. And I’m dealing. But things are hard.”

About two months ago my partner Andy and I sold everything we own, packed our bags, and set off on the road. To travel. To work. To do something meaningful and beautiful and totally unconventional.

It was a decision we made after my partner’s mom was finally in the clear after a scary cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

Phew, we thought.

Glad that’s over with. Oh yeah – and life? Let’s go LIVE it.

Two weeks into our trip – into our newly appreciated freedom and refreshed outlook on the preciousness of life – we found out his dad has cancer, too.

The only joke to make here being that his parents love each other so much they do everything together. Even cancer.

God bless ’em.

So life, as we know it, is somewhat insane right now.

Questions about the future, where we’re going to live, what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to manage everything are keeping us awake at night. Questions about what it means to love, to live life fully, and to make sacrifices are testing us daily. The universe is being pretty funny.

Yet in the midst of all the chaos, my business is thriving and I’m reaching a level of success I never thought possible – especially not given the stress we’ve been under. How is this happening? has been the question on my mind lately. How am I managing all this and actually doing better than ever in my business?

And it finally hit me the other day: When I’m miserable, I know I’m on the right path.

Through all the challenges lately, the one thing that has been saving my sanity is my work.

It’s the one thing I’ve turned to, over and over again, finding refuge in my to-do list. In my next project. In my calls with clients that light me up + make my heart happy.

Being miserable has actually shown me that I’m on the right path, because the pain is alleviated by the passion for what I do.

Despite everything, I still get to crawl out of bed every morning and make a living doing what I love. Things are still flowing and expanding. Growth is still happening.

And that’s how you know you’re on the right path, in your life, in your business. Hopefully in both.

That even in conflict and stress, your work is what you love.

And frankly, it doesn’t matter if you’re making millions doing it, or just raking in a nice side income for your shoe shopping addiction.

It just matters that you recognize how lucky you are.

It matters that you acknowledge what truly drives you in this world - that you bow down in front of it and say thank you.

Thank you for saving me. Thank you for showing me there is a place of refuge.  

I’m writing this from a cozy cabin in the woods – a place we’re renting for the time being. And despite it being temporary, despite not really knowing what’s next, despite interrupted plans, and fear, and juggling the obstacles curently at hand, I’m surrounded by beauty. I can smell the fresh pine trees. I see wildlife. There is silence.

And I’m grateful. Grateful for even my misery, because the pain reveals the necessary cure.

If you’re wrestling with what path you should be on, take the one that you know will save you when life gets hard. The one where you’re living your dreams and never allowing regrets.

It’s cliché, but life IS short. 

P.S. If your dream involves finally building a passion-based business, I’m your girl. I’ve got a brand new program coming your way soon. Make room in your heart. Clear the space. It’s time for you to do this.

The Secret to Finding Clarity in Your Coaching Business

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My advisor gave me that look advisors give students when they think you’re totally screwing up.

“You realize that changing your major as a junior, you’re going to tack on an extra semester of school, right?”

Her words were caring, but her tone said, “Are you crazy? Just finish your damn degree already, girl.”

I nodded that I understood, filed the paperwork, and showed up to the first class – “Strategic Writing for the Media” – that would change the course of my career path forever.

I changed my major 5 times in college. Oh, and I also went to three colleges (four, if you count the P.E. class I took at the local JC that I never showed up to, but magically passed).

I’ve always been a bit of a dabbler – so much so that I’ve never been able to settle for anything in life that doesn’t really light me up, whether it’s a job, a relationship, or a cookie. (Never settle for mediocre cookies.)

Recently I learned there’s actually a mantra of sorts for this type of behavior, especially in business:

“Clarity comes through engagement, not thinking.”

Marie Forleo’s words.

Put another way, you don’t get clear about your life, your purpose, your business, or your cookie selections until you actually get out there and experiment. 

You don’t know what’s going to work – or not work – until you change your major five times. Or you book your first client, despite feeling like you’re going to fail. Or you try that different approach that’s risky. Or you eat 9 different types of cookies until you find the one you LOVE.

You won’t get clear on any of this by sitting around and thinking about it. You find clarity through action – through trying, succeeding, failing, kinda-making-it-work, tweaking, refining, listening, and delivering.

You also get clarity from engaging in your life. Because the action you need to take to get clarity isn’t about putting 10 million to-do items on your plate. It’s about dabbling in things for pleasure and purpose. Enjoying the ride and trusting that you’ll get there in good time. You can achieve clarity sitting on a beach, drinking champagne at 10 am (which I may or may not have been doing last week).

The Evil Gatekeepers

There are two evil gatekeepers that will keep you from creating the business you want + living the life you truly desire:

1. Not starting

2. Perfectionism

Not Starting is your fear running the show. And Perfectionism is Not Starting’s jerky little sidekick, because even if you get started, Perfectionism will make sure you don’t get far. It’s not good enough. I need to change that. It should be different. Better. Gahhhh. Screw this. I’m tired. 

Not Starting and Perfectionism are the demons you need to slay, babe.

I know from experience. I know from wasting far too much time aiming for perfect, and only finally achieving success in my business when I kicked perfect to the curb, left the overthinking and philosophizing to the poets, and make a commitment to engage until I found what worked.

Did this involve failing? Abso-freaking-lutely. Did it involve sleepless nights, worrying, stress, and moments where I wanted to give up? Yep.

But it was about showing up. Doing the work. Hiring help. Trying new things. Being authentic. Listening.

So. Clarity comes from engagement. Not thinking.

Where can you engage today? Where can you just start, even if you’re unsure?

Let me know. I bet I’ve been there.

I hereby give you permission to change your mind. To try all the cookies. To switch majors, or try a new business idea, or get the help you need to get you out of your head and into action.