I had the good fortune to meet Rebecca Bly during a yoga teacher training nine years ago. Her beautiful practice and authentic quest for knowledge suggested great things to come, and her journey has delivered nothing less! After some serious soul searching, Rebecca quit her career as a software developer to become a full time yoga teacher and wellness coach, founding Live Beyond The Mat to help people to find peace and balance in their day to day life. Rebecca describes trading in her pencil skirts and a windowless cubicle for yoga pants and sunny studios as the best decision she ever made, and four years later she’s proud to say she’ll never look back.
In the latest installment of our Trailblazers interview series, Rebecca shares her story and encouragement for fellow travelers...
How did you know it was time to make a change?
I remember very clearly the day I finally decided to jump. I was sitting on the floor of the podiatrist’s office waiting for my appointment. All the seats were taken. Things had been going badly at work and I couldn’t take it any longer. Our jobs were being contracted out without our knowledge and it became an intolerable and unprofessional workplace. I began to cry. I felt completely trapped. I was stuck between “don’t quit your day job” and “fake it ‘til you make it” neither of which were good enough to get me through anymore.
Suddenly in that sad moment on the floor, I finally found the way out. I would quit. It was so obvious. Why hadn’t I thought of it before?
The next day I walked in to the office and handed in my resignation. I’ve never, to this day, felt as relieved in my life as I did when I made that decision.
Some people said it was brave. Others called me gutsy. It never felt that way. When you think of the brave warrior walking to the front lines to fight his enemy, he’s always portrayed as courageous. It turns out sometimes courage feels the same as fear. So I stepped forward and carried my fear with me, but at least I wasn’t carrying all that misery anymore.
What gave you the confidence you needed to move forward?
The most important thing was feeling that I wasn’t alone. Even though going into business for myself means I’m the only one doing the work, making the decisions and paying the bills, having a team around me that was emotionally supportive gave me enough confidence to temper the accompanying uncertainty. And there’s a persistent lot of that!
Though they thought my move unwise, I knew my family had my back. If I had to sell my place and move back in with my parents for a little while until things got off the ground, then life really wasn’t so bad.
Friends, therapists, counselors, consultants, mentors and colleagues were all an added bonus to my team – and their support and advice made me even stronger.
What are you dreaming about now?
I’ll be leading my first yoga retreat for my 35th birthday to Costa Rica. It feels very surreal! I know it’ll be a lot of work, but at the end of the day I get to do what I love, surrounded by beautiful people and beautiful scenery. I am one lucky duck. I’m excited to see where this project might take me.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
“You’ll figure it out”. That’s it. Plain and simple. There’s so much uncertainty around plans we make. If you wait around until you’re 100% sure things will go the way you plan, then nothing will ever happen. I labeled myself a risk-averse person, but when I look at what I’ve done, I’m a pretty huge risk taker. And every time you try something new, it either works or it doesn’t (or it sorta works) - and whatever mess you make in the meantime, you’ll figure out how to clean it up. Don’t let uncertainty stop you from giving things a go. Do your homework, plan as best you can, then go for it. Be confident you’ll figure the rest out as you go.
What encouragement can you offer someone who wants to make a change but is apprehensive?
Give yourself a break regularly from trying so hard to figure things out. You’ll be ready to make a move when you’re ready, but in the meantime, trying too hard all the time will run you ragged so fast that decision making will become impossible. When I was starting my business and constantly trying to “figure things out,” I would give myself full days off (sometimes in a row!) from making ANY decisions. At first it made me anxious because I wasn’t doing anything and people in business for themselves know it can be a 24/7 kind of endeavor. But it was during those periods of recuperation that my resolve and motivation and creativity would come back to me. Especially on a long, slow bike ride.