A year ago, I did the unimaginable. I published my first book From Nine to Thrive after dreaming about writing a book for YEARS (can I get a whoo-hoo!?).

Sure, it wasn’t jumping out of a plane or performing karaoke sober. But to me, it might as well have been.

Sharing your work with the world is like casually walking down the street only to realize you’re naked. The combination of whistles of approval, or scowls of rejection, are reminders that what was once shielded is now open for public judgment.

You know what else we protect? Dreams.

As children, we shared them freely no matter how grand and those around us nodded with encouragement.

But as we get older, our dreams get tucked away one by one. They become harder to imagine in “real life.”

I spent most of my career dreaming about climbing up the corporate ladder and following my passion at the same time. However, it was an unsynchronized waltz.

During the day, I worked my butt off to be the best at my job. I collected accolades, frenemies, titles, and fought to make more money.

At night, I wrote. I started my business MGC Ink (Mari Brands For You) on the side in 2011 because personal branding was my strength and outlet to help others in the same position.

But juggling both was a struggle and stressful, especially as my salary and responsibilities skyrocketed.  I couldn’t keep up with my passion, so I tucked it away—sometimes consciously and other times unconsciously.

At a crossroads, I had to make a choice.

I was waiting for the right sign. The right time. The right ANYTHING that would make the decision easy. But to be honest, there was no earth-shattering aha moment.

It was more like a series of events that forced my hand each day. So, I gave notice to my job.

I decided to not quit my day dream. I wanted to be my own boss full-time.

Fast forward to my last day at the job, I packed up the last of my mugs and teas in my already bare office and had a moment of reflection.

I felt like I was walking away from great colleagues and a manager I actually liked. Walking away from a “stable” paycheck. Walking away from having the title of being a manager with my own office.

These are the things I thought I wanted earlier in my career. In fact, it was the lack of these things in the past that was the foundation of writing my book and being on a quest for more.

But it wasn’t enough. Again, I was ready to do the unimaginable.

It’s as if I was standing at the edge of an open plane door 10,000 feet in the air. Wind blowing my face into the back of my head. Heart pounding out of my chest. Bracing to take the leap.

Will I hesitate? Will I fly? Will I go SPLAT for the whole world to see and judge?

But none of these questions mattered.

Because I knew that closing this door meant opening another door I’ve dreamt about and protected.

I was walking towards a business I started seven years ago. Walking towards creative freedom, limitless income, life outside of an office¾and most important¾my own path.

You see: Quitting isn’t always the end. Sometimes it’s just the beginning.

As I prepare to re-launch my business with a new focus and a stronger sense of determination, I’ll embrace the terrifying yet gratifying journey of taking the leap. (Just like I did when I launched my book.)

Daring to do the unimaginable and step outside of your comfort zone is tough but necessary to reach new levels of success—however YOU may define it.

There’s a freedom in not tucking away your dreams and wondering what “could have” been. It’s not about being brave enough to succeed. It’s about not being afraid to fail.

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Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Writer + Personal Brand Strategist, Founder at MGC Ink
Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over 15 years' experience climbing through top corporate brands, she helps small businesses and freelancers communicate their brand message and stand out from the crowd.
Marietta Gentles Crawford
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