5 Successful Women Who Quit Their Job and Followed Their Passion

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Mark Twain wrote, “twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Most of us, at some point in our lives, have felt unfulfilled in our careers and have had doubts that maybe we’re on a path that doesn’t connect with our passion. Though we’ve been raised with the stories of Mark Twain and with the slogan, ‘follow your passion’, according to a recent Deloitte survey of 3,000 full-time U.S. workers, only 20% say they are truly passionate about their work! Further research into this conundrum suggests that most of us don’t know how to pursue our passion, and thus we fail to do so. 

But when it comes to following your passion, we need to understand three key things – firstly, passion is not something that you randomly stumble upon, rather, it is something to be harnessed and developed over time. Secondly, the challenging task is to overcome barriers in pursuit of your passion especially as it wanes over time. And the third thing to keep in mind is that passion, if not channelized effectively, can also lead us astray, and it is therefore important to recognize its limits before you decide to take the risk. 

And if you’re someone who is at a crossroads with regards to leaving your job behind to follow your passion, you definitely need some inspiration to go all the way! Read below and take inspiration from these 5 successful women who decided to take the plunge to follow their true calling:

1. Pankaj Bhadouria

From a high school teacher to a ‘Masterchef India’ winner and now celebrated as one of India’s top chefs with various cooking shows to her name, Bhadouria has come a long way since she quit her 16-year-old job as a teacher. Not many of us would give up a safe career and venture into the unknown with just passion. But Bhadouria did. And her journey is an inspiration for all the women out there who dare to dream.

What inspired her to do so? She explains in an interview, “MasterChef was a turning point in my life. My first selection to the top 12 was a challenging one that awakened the dormant competitive spirit in me! From there on, there was no looking back. I got into the “danger zone” only once throughout the journey, but sailed through it. I was more determined to win and with God’s grace, I did.”

2. Nicole Pomije

Four years into her corporate job, Nicole realized there was no more room for her to grow in her career. “I didn’t see a future for advancement there for me,” she said in an interview. “I wanted to explore my own passions. I knew that being on my own without a steady paycheck would be challenging but once I gave my notice, I felt this sense of freedom and feeling that the sky is the limit. It was.”

The founder of the entrepreneurial project called ‘The Cookie Cups’, a dessert business that sells its “cookie cups” online and at local markets and events, Pomije has ever since been in love with her work. When it comes to her advising aspiring entrepreneurs, she insists that being realistic and understanding what you’re getting into is really important. She says “it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it if you stick to your plan and persevere no matter what!”

3. Lori Cheek 

After working in architecture, furniture, and design for 15 years, Lori came up with an idea that led her into the NYC world of technology and dating with Cheekd, a newly launched hyper-speed Bluetooth mobile dating app. However, she had to sacrifice a lot for her idea. Before she jumped into the entrepreneurial waters, Cheek appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, where she got a harsh criticism for her product. But instead of being let down, she used it to reinvent the company! She ensured that her dating app was operated via Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi, which makes it possible to connect with potential matches in other areas where missed connections are likely, like an airplane.

Immediately following her harsh Shark Tank rejection, she received 100,000 new sign-ups, thousands of emails from consumers, and at least 50 emails from interested investors, and now she stands tall as a great example to all those who believe in their passion.

4. Jena Viviano

An ex-Wall Streeter turned career coach and entrepreneur who helps go-getter professionals articulate their personal branded career story to land their dream jobs, Jena Viviano escaped her investment banking career to help companies tell their stories on the online career platform- The Muse. In an article she wrote, she says, “there’s so much more to your career than brand-name companies, money, and titles. It’s about working someplace where you feel that you’re valued and are valuable, a place where you’re proud of the work you do and are even more proud of the work your company’s doing.” 

As a successful career coach, she now advises young entrepreneurs that success comes in many shapes and sizes and thus, success is truly what you make of it.

5. Pragya Bhatt

A Software Engineer by profession, Pragya had a very typical job that demanded long hours with work stress. She worked for over 8 years in the industry before she decided to give it all up for yoga! The inspiration to change her life came when she was introduced to power yoga. From that moment onwards, she went from writing code to quitting her job to become a full-time practitioner and yoga teacher.

The struggle to transition from a ‘real career’ to a one where she’s following her passion wasn’t the easiest, but Pragya was determined. Her family and friends kept rooting for her and she kept on following her passion. To young entrepreneurs who are about to test the waters, she advises that they plan their finances well in advance so that you can stay afloat for a while!

It is said that only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. Thus, in order to follow your passion to succeed, see your passion as a challenging ongoing process and keep striving hard to achieve success!

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