How one woman’s Good Life Crisis is changing lives, including her own!
When Serena Star Leonard quit her day job and redesigned her life, she really didn’t know what lay ahead. At 26 she left her IT sales career behind to discover how to realise her passion for making a difference.
Johnny and Serena writing and editing en route
Fast forward 7 years and she’s now a best- selling author (How to Retire in 12 Months), blogger and business coach. Currently travelling long term with her husband through Latin America, she’s having amazing adventures, filming mini documentaries and sharing stories of people all over the world who are making a difference to their communities.
In a ‘virtual fireside chat’ from Latin America, let’s go behind the scenes of Serena’s great life redesign.
What prompted you to follow your passion?
I had a safe, well paying job with a great future ahead of me – the problem was that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had so much fear around the thought of the unknown that I was stuck. Meanwhile I created a charitable event on the side with some friends and it went ballistic! A few days later I had the courage to leave my job and go out on my own.
It actually took me a couple of years to figure out what I wanted to do – so that was an intense time! I created lots of small businesses, charities, events and projects, many succeeded and many failed. I was over worked, over committed, flying by the seat of my pants and earning very little. But with all that going on, an amazing sense of freedom started to develop.
After a while I noticed that I loved helping people set up their own projects and businesses – as soon as I decided to be a business coach, everything fell into place. I had figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up!
You’ve helped many people to find and follow their passion. What do you notice is different about people who make their dream a reality?
The difference is courage! The second you state your dream out loud, you risk failing. Everything about making a dream a reality comes with a risk that you might fail, so it takes a huge amount of courage to look possible failure in the face and carry on anyway.
What I love seeing is the moment when someone gets their first little taste of success. It could be the smallest thing, but at that moment they realise that the world is at their feet. You have no idea how big or exciting your journey could get, but you have to have the door open and that takes courage.
What’s a ‘Good Life Crisis’ and why should we all have one?
A “Good Life Crisis” happens when you have a minor freak out and realise that unless you take action, your life will end up being more of what it already is.
At that point people start to think about they want from life – and start designing their life rather than following status quo.
“Good Life Crises” seem to happen organically – either we are inspired by other people, or we are unfulfilled and look for change. Either way I think it is important at regular intervals in your life to take a good look at where you are at and decide if that is the direction you will continue to go in.
What three things do all ‘Good Life Crisis’ creators have in common?
1. Guts – it takes courage to change the course of your life. You are interrupting the flow that you have taken a lifetime to create, so naturally there will be some resistance in your head as well as in the world around you.
2. Energy – that moment when you choose to change things you also accept responsibility for how your life goes. It’s like the lights turn on! When you chase your dreams you find energy that you never knew you had. Life looks different and everything you do suddenly matters.
3. Surrender – after a while you start to surrender to the process rather than the outcome. You can do everything in your power to make something happen and it may succeed or fail. People who chase their dreams start to realise that the process or journey is what matters, more than the results.
You’re on a quest to find and share the stories of people who are making a real difference in their communities and the world. What sparked the idea and purpose of Five Point Five and what types of stories are you seeking to share?
Well to cut a long story short – we were about to embark on 3 years of travel and adventure and rather than do the tourist thing we wanted to do something that had some meaning.
We saw an incredibly inspiring YouTube video about Narayanan Krishnan who feeds and cares for the destitute in India. In the video he says that “everyone has 5.5 litres of blood, everybody is the same”.
This had a huge impact on me – what if we could collect stories of all the inspiring people who are out there quietly dedicating their lives to making the world a better place?
Since we left in April we have spent time with kids in the slums in Colombia, with sex workers fighting for their basic rights in Nicaragua, with a turtle conservation program in Costa Rica, with women who collect plastic bags off the beaches and sew them into gorgeous bags to reduce pollution. Every week we meet new communities of amazing, inspiring people who are absolute heroes.
This is a total passion project and I get to mix adventurous world travel with intimate experiences with inspiring people and communities.
Johnny plays football with kids fro a project in Columbia
Women sew plastic bags off beaches into beautiful things
Johnny gets some help fixing the road at school
Serena in turtle conservation program in Costa Rica
How cool is that!
To find out more about Serena’s inspiring and interesting story, check out her blog. If the idea of quitting your 9 – 5 job appeals, she’s also running a course in January to teach people how to build their first blog from scratch. http://www.retireyoung.com.au/the-retire-young-course/