Three years ago we boarded a plane to Paris with a one-way ticket, a three-year-old daughter, and two suitcases that did not contain money.
The years of a successful career, a stable life, and a hard coast were behind us. An experiment called “Let’s try to live where we like and do what we believe in” began. It was time to fulfill long-dusted dreams.
I always tell my clients: geography, money, profession – these are just the conditions of the problem, the main thing to know that the problem – can be solved.
Our initial conditions were as follows: my husband is a project manager in trade marketing, I am a talent manager, my son is a graduate student, and my daughter is just three years old. We had a stable job at an international company, we traveled around the world a lot, and generally felt pretty good about ourselves.
What we were aiming for: to exchange all this stability at any rate for a life of our own choosing. My husband’s choice was clear from the start-he had dreamed all his life of becoming a chef in a French restaurant. My new role was drowning in uncertainty, but I was sure I would figure it out along the way. No connections in Europe, a supply of money – for about a year not to work, while living on a budget and getting a good education.
And the era of the Big Change began.
Today I’m writing to you from Monaco, from the window I see the Princely Palace and the crowd gathering for the Formula 1 race, my husband from seven in the morning in a restaurant meeting with suppliers, my daughter nearby reading a French book, the holidays at her. Our oldest son is graduating from college. I declare the era of Big Change closed, it’s time for Results and Growth. I’m ready to share with you the Key Lessons of Big Change.
If you think of something big when you’re “over 30,” there will never be a good time. There will be more inopportune and less inopportune.
After 30, we all acquire connections, houses, circumstances, we are already built into a certain course of things, and they do not add up perfectly on their own so that we can take everything and rebuild it. The conclusion is simple – once you’ve decided, you have to do it.
Some people ask me, but what about the fears, because they need to somehow dispel or overcome, and then start. And I think this is a futile exercise. Fears and worries – it’s normal, but to put them at the center and in general somehow I do not want to celebrate them.
Here’s an example on this topic from life. Here is a pregnant woman. If she had chosen the day of delivery by herself, having first come to a state where she was not at all worried, then that day might not have come. But here, whether you’re afraid or not, if nature’s inevitable appointed time has come, you give birth, whether you’re afraid or not. It’s the same with change. If this day is inevitable (so what if you appointed it yourself), then you will not analyze your fears, but do what needs to be done.
In the beginning, everything you dream seems impossible. But there is a bridge from the impossible dream to the ordinary plan – this is the first step.
Even the smallest one, but it will mean that you have already crossed the line from the past to the future. As Napoleon said, the main thing is to get involved. In our case, it was a letter to the LeCordon Bleu Paris Culinary Academy about an opportunity to study to become a chef. Then a visit there. And now we were looking for an apartment in Paris, finding out about the package of documents at the consulate, preparing our successors at work. And we no longer talk about the distant and unrealizable, but simply take this distant thing, divide it into understandable parts, and go ahead.
In a new field of endeavor, the main competitive advantage is when the thing you’ve taken on ignites.
Today I was talking to Jeanne, she is such a tired-tired publicist in the restaurant business (in her words, she is “lost in the restaurant business”). I listened to Jeanne and remembered my husband, who has eyes burning for this very restaurant business. In the year he had been working on his new career, he had managed to get so actively involved in the business that he had held several important meetings with newly acquired French partners.
When you do something with passion, you develop in it much faster than anyone else who is just doing it out of obligation. Because getting up at night and writing down a new idea, or reading a book a day on your topic, isn’t stressful, it’s energizing. My husband can spend half his day off inventing a new salad dressing, and he won’t get tired of mixing all the ingredients in twenty variations. Now imagine that such passion for his craft competes with the normal, i.e., normal attitude of people not so passionate? Who would you bet on? That’s right, that’s how it works.
When you’re very interested, you stop thinking about conventions, you fly to, say, London to the right seminar, and you don’t care that you can’t afford a good lunch there yet. It doesn’t give you a headache at all.
When there’s only 20 cents left in your pocket, things will go faster than when there’s 20,000. Hardship mobilizes and pumps up qualities that atrophy in predictable prosperity.
We had some pretty black days, but after the first one we stopped being afraid of them and concluded that being on the bottom meant being on a solid surface from which we could push off and swim upward.
One day we had given up because after several months of contract work in Monaco, the refusal to approve my husband for the chef position came, because one high official did not see the potential in him to become the chef of a local restaurant, due to his nationality and lack of much experience. As I recall now, we sat on the kitchen floor and were silent. The rejection paper lay between us. Then we looked at each other, pulled ourselves together as usual and came up with a plan to convince this man.
At the start no one issues a warranty card for a happy ending. You just have to plow enthusiastically and wait for the right opportunities. For example, we never considered Monaco as a destination. But the opportunity came up – and we were ready for it.
Everything that came before is not for nothing. Even when it seems like a full start from scratch – it’s not a full start from scratch.
It would seem that knowledge of trade marketing is not very applicable in a restaurant kitchen. But my husband had already managed complex projects, led a team and learned how to achieve results, and in the restaurant it all turned out very handy.
And there is a special story about me. At first I thought I wanted to be a writer. And during my first month in Paris I even wrote half a novel, a detective novel. Of course, it was about office life, and the first victim of the office maniac looked suspiciously like my boss. I was also studying travel writing and professional filmmaking. And I was sure that my 15 years in human resources ended along with my office life.
And I found myself very close to where I had lost it. One day I realized that I was constantly counseling people (just for fun) about jobs. That everything I study, everything I’m interested in is just about career change, about how it works for others and what success depends on. When it hit me that this is what gives me my pleasure and my meaning, I found my focus. And I realized that that’s what I wanted to become an expert at, and help others find themselves and do it faster and bolder. And that’s where I reevaluated all those 15 years, which is now a good foundation. And writing is realized in the blog, which also came in handy.
I told you about our five personal lessons. And I want to end with just one piece of advice. You don’t have to go ANYWHERE. You have to go WHERE. Then everything works. We didn’t go to another country because we weren’t doing well. We were fine, but we had plans. If the plans were not to do French food, but to do yoga, then we would have gone to India. Geography has nothing to do with it, it’s important to know your answer to the “why” question.