Stop Paying Your Dues and Honor Your Yearning

When you start a new job, go for a promotion, make a big ask, or undertake a new project, there are a lot of assumptions about what that journey has to entail. Whether it’s a dream job or a job that gives you stability before you fully pursue your dream, there’s this deeply ingrained “pay your dues” protocol.

This incredibly limiting message that we impress upon ourselves and each other is a deep wound of wondering whether we are worthy of the dreams we hold.

It keeps us from taking big, bold risks and sets up a mindset of condition- that we can’t do what we really want until we struggle through steps we assume come with the territory. This keeps us from finding and building our Personal Legend.

Paulo Coelho’s concept of a “Personal Legend” is the thing you are here to do, see, or accomplish. This is the thing that nags at you in the quiet moments before you go to sleep, or the brilliant idea that flashes through you while you’re in the shower. It can be the one huge thing you are meant to do in your lifetime (help 10,000 underserved women make their way to college), or the thing that you are all about (creating community wherever you go).

I watched this TED Talk with Reshma Saujani. She ran for Congress in New York in 2012. Consultants and coaches told her she was going to fail. Spoiler Alert: She did. But what she found was that she had been obsessed with perfectionism. She (and many other women) had spent a lifetime pursuing the next thing that she knew she was able to do, and NOT what she was truly interested in.

Had she kept paying her dues, she might have missed this bold opportunity to learn.

Bold risks lead to finding your personal legend.

Reshma’s failure ultimately led to the creation of Girls Who Code. I highly recommend you watch the video. She shares a story about how girls would delete code because it wasn’t perfect, rather than have something imperfect to use for learning. They wanted “perfection over bravery.” Her mission now? 1 Million women in the tech industry by 2020. Her failure led to her current purpose, her personal legend.

I’m not advocating for rash or false bravado to replace work. It is often necessary that we work, frequently, playfully, and with intention towards our personal legend. I’m advocating for thoughtful inner questioning on this belief that you must “pay your dues” and to take a look at what you might be hiding from. What would you do if you didn’t have to pay your dues?

Constantly focusing on the dues diminishes our ability to vision and dream, and stops us from channeling bravery as fuel for our Personal Legend journey.

Do you need to learn a skill set? Yes. Do you need to talk to folks in your industry and get insight into how to move up? Yes. Do you need to experience tasks that you absolutely love doing? Yes. Do you need to experience tasks that you detest and would pay someone else to do? Yes. It is only through moving forward that we get enough insight to nurture our personal legend.

We use “paying our dues” to hide from yearning.

We yearn for the things that are in our hearts.Yearning is a hunger that we must learn to live with and through. Our yearnings are the ways that our heart whispers our next steps and our great visions.

I yearned to start coaching women long before I took the leap. I watched Marie Forleo videos on Tuesday mornings hunched over my americano and blueberry muffin, soaking up her funny sayings, like “Get on the NO train!” and “Everything is figureoutable!”

In the years of building a coaching skill set and business skills, I yearned for the biz that I didn’t have yet. Sometimes, yearning is delightful and delicious, sending tingles up and down our bodies. Sometimes, yearning feels like an ache in the heart that cannot be stopped no matter how many oreos we consume. Befriend your yearnings. Pay attention to them.

Your yearnings hold the keys to your peace and vivacious fulfillment.

A place to look

Where are you “paying your dues” right now? What is it leading towards? Do you like what’s at the end of that path? What might you take on, do, make if you weren’t “paying your dues”?

To your yearnings,

This post was originally published on and shared with permission.


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