Sometimes even when things are going great in your career, you still have a yearning to take things to another level. Efe Cierkowski, a wife and mother of three, had a great run working in Corporate America, but a nagging feeling from her childhood kept tugging at her.
“I believe we all have that certain thing that we know we want to do or what we’re put here for, and from a young age I knew wanted to own my own business,” Cierkowski says. Last year, she decided to take the leap, leaving a high-salary job to start A Sip of Art, an upscale art studio that offers adult and children’s classes and programs in West Orange, N.J.
“I had a pretty good career in Corporate America, and my last job was a dream job,” she says. “It really wasn’t about leaving a job I didn’t like. It was more about finally answering that call to do what I always wanted to do and to be in the place that I wanted to be.”
Below, Cierkowski shares the first four steps she took to step out of her comfort zone and into monetizing her passion:
1. Determine your ‘why.’ Know what you want and why you want it. “Be sure that you’re coming from a truthful and honest place and you’re not just running away from something,” she says. “Determine whether you’re being pulled into something you’re supposed to be pulled toward.”
2. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Self-assessment is key. “Is this what you want to do in alignment with who you are?For me, I knew I wanted to be in a position where I’m creating something from the ground up. That’s what my passion was.”
3. Create a plan. Have an emergency fund and evaluate your finances. “I began to create a budget, and I looked for ways to cut back on other things to save,” she says. “Also, organize your household from each family member’s schedule to creating a home life that is ready for the transition.”
4. Get out of a limited-money mindset. “I had to shift my thinking where [the time to transition] wasn’t about a number or making a certain amount, but about what type of lifestyle I wanted,” she adds. “I began to talk with my husband about creating that lifestyle. For me it was more about living a new type of life. It might be tough, but that’s where the shift happens when it stops being about money or a target and about the life I wanted to live.”