He sat across the table from me, accomplished, assured, capable, successful. Here was a man who had achieved financial success many times over in his corporate and consulting career. When he was standing, he towered over me and would have been intimidating if he hadn’t been so friendly. And yet…

This same man who seemed so polished and directed shared with me over a cup of coffee that he felt like a hamster on a wheel: busy doing stuff but not going anywhere. Work was losing its intrinsic meaning. What was it all for, anyway?

What happens when you’ve got all the material wealth you want, plus the great family, wonderful friends and you still feel like something is missing?

You feel ungrateful because you still want more – more meaning, more purpose, more impact.

You want to pursue it but that wheel doesn’t stop turning long enough to even think about or search for what’s possible outside the cage.

There could be danger out there. You could get hurt. You might not like it as much.

All you know is that you don’t know enough.

So you just keep running. In the same cage. On the same wheel.

And you hope that something will happen in your current environment that will make all your running worthwhile. And if it doesn’t change, well at least you were never at risk. At least you knew what to expect.

Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Making a change can be scary for so many reasons. So how is it that other people seem to be taking the leap into something new now more than ever?

Here’s why you’re on the wheel and they aren’t:

1. They fell off the wheel.

Ever see someone lose their balance on a treadmill? Yeah. Like that. You gotta know there was some catalyst that pushed that person to the breaking point. Either they got so fed up they had no choice but to leave or die a slow agonizing Dilbert-esque death OR…budget cuts. When life gives you the choice to survive or not survive, you choose survival every time. Your choice hasn’t been that stark. Yet.

2. They looked outside the cage while they were running.

Oh, that buzz word: Side-Hustle. These hamsters have one, for sure. It’s these folks who have been working on something in their “spare” time – whether that’s exploring by expanding their networks or just doing some informational interviews with other companies or fellow entrepreneurs. They have been making the unknown, known.

3. They stopped comparing themselves to other hamsters.

Stop it. Just stop it right now. I’m not braver than you because I left my corporate job to start something new. I’m not more confident. I’m not more anything than you – I’m just the right amount of courage, capability and knowledge needed to take the next right step. And you are too.

We have the makings of great confidence within us. Our challenge is not to find it, but to use it. The more we use it, the better we get at making it come alive more and more alive in us – more readily accessible when we need it most.

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Tara Lynn is a leadership development speaker, Fascinate Certified Advisor, coach, and writer. She brings polished, insightful strategies to companies and individuals, helping them clarify their unique value and rise to higher standards of success. The practical tips and tools she shares get her clients from point A to point C while solving for the mysterious point B. 

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