Recently, I have been re-reading The Alchemist with Mr. Lively. He has never read it before and though I read it a handful of years ago, I wanted to revisit the story.
So far, I have enjoyed the wise tale again. But I now find that I’m strangely connecting the boy’s journey to my own career.
For those who haven’t read the book and plan to, you may want to skip this post and re-read this after you’ve finished. I won’t give away any insanely revealing details about the end of the book, but I will tell about a third of the storyline.
(Storyline spoiler alert – stop reading if you don’t want to learn any plot details.)
The book tells a story of a boy in Spain who wanted to travel more than he wanted to become a priest (his expected occupation). So he decides to become a shepherd and go anywhere he pleases.
Eventually, the boy has several recurring dreams of treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. With the help of some key characters, the boy decides to pursue this “Personal Legend,” and travel to the pyramids to find his treasure.
As he makes this decision, he ends up losing all of his money. In order to regain the funds to become a shepherd once more, or to continue on to Egypt, he somewhat randomly becomes a crystal shop assistant.
He spends one full year working in the crystal shop, making it more successful than ever before.
By the end of his year of work he ends up with twice the savings that he once had. Though the money was nice, he was somewhat discouraged by the fact that in one year he got only two hours closer to Egypt than when he started.
With the new cash in hand, he has a decision to make: go back to being a shepherd, which was safe and familiar, or continue on his way to Egypt and live out his Personal Legend.
And the rest… you about in the book.
As Mr. Lively and I have been reading this part of the story, I’ve been fascinated by the parallels I’m finding even to this day, in my own life.
Up until college I was expected to become a corporate climber. Perhaps a marketing executive, like others from my business school class.
But once I accidentally discovered that my purpose was to help people live with intention, I couldn’t pursue the corporate world.
So I pursued my accessory business full-time in order to maintain the flexibility and control that I wanted to go after my dream, of one day writing a book and perhaps having a TV show.
Mind you, this was before I met the blog world. This was when women helping women on a grand scale was limited to authors, Oprah, and Martha Stewart. Rachel Ray hadn’t even hit the scene yet.
For me, this leg of my journey was about avoiding the socially expected priesthood (corporate exec) and becoming a shepherd (business owner).
And my personal legend? That, I suppose, was the idea of having a book and a TV show that would help people live with intention.
For the next five years, I shepherded my business, Jess LC, to success. I got into many stores, I dove headfirst into online selling, and I expanded the line to include many products beyond jewelry.
I also stuck to my mission of helping people. After a year and a half of business, I started this blog (then called Makeunder My Life), and I eventually started to help people through consulting.
After five years of shepherding, I got an undeniable message that it was time to close my business, leave my shepherding career behind, and move forward towards my Personal Legend.
So I started to do more consulting, workshops, and design projects in the past seven months full-time.
But I’m starting to realize that this phase of my career hasn’t been my Personal Legend, it is actually my crystal store assistant gig.
Yes, it has gotten me two hours closer to my Personal Legend. But it is not the Legend itself.
I am quite frankly shocked by this realization, as I can imagine many of you may imagine.
But one fateful moment a few weeks ago, when I was looking for direction and asking my gut the question, “What should I do now?”
I quite heard the crystal clear phrase, “Write a book.”
At once the old, somewhat dusty dream that I had pushed out of my mind as I busied myself with other projects and service came back to the forefront.
As you can imagine there was a lot of trepidation as well. My ego wanted to know more.
How am I supposed to write a book? What am I supposed to write about? Is it an ebook? Is it published? When is this going to happen? What is going to happen after that? Tell me more details!
But I’m sad to say, that all I’ve heard since that moment was the same phrase, calmly repeated.
Though I have dozens of questions and one single answer, I am learning to trust.
I have made intuitive decisions to avoid priesthood, become a shepherd, transition into a crystal shop keeper, and now I’m a few hours closer to the journey I’ve been drawn to all along.
And of course, I’ll be sure to share the progress as it happens.
For now, I’m continuing to complete the exciting projects that are still in the works, and I’m staying open to this new direction my gut seems to want me to take.
Want to know the most wonderful part? This story of priesthood, shepherding, crystal shopkeeping, and Personal Legends applies to us all.
We must simply ask ourselves: What should I do now?
The rest is up to fate.