Recently, the concept of “willingness” has come to my attention. Though I’ve never given the idea or term much thought in the past, it seems to be following me around.

It’s popping up in my Course in Miracles reading each morning. It’s the concept I’m most drawn to in the levels of consciousness chart I shared last week.

When I think about it, the concept of willingness is what has allowed me to grow a business from the age of 15 with a $5 bag of beads. Willingness was what allowed me to move to Chicago with $700 in the bank after graduation and set up my business full-time in a studio apartment.

I was willing to have anxiety attacks over cash flow.

I was willing to take on interns when I was a year out of school myself. Without a clue about being a boss.

I was willing to dip into my savings to re-brand my company.

I was willing to learn how to work with manufacturers to make products beyond my speciality – and make mistakes along the way.

I was willing to do whatever I could with whatever I had.


Recently, I feel like willingness is less common. Or perhaps less commonly spoken about.

In an effort to establish “credibility” or exude “success,” especially online, we are less interested in sharing the sacrifices, trade-offs, and lessons learned. We are less likely to share the nitty-gritty or not-so-pretty.

The problem with this phenomenon is that is isolating. It make it appear as though no one struggles. It makes it appear as if there is some sort of secret to “success” that some know and some do not.

But the truth is that talent, value, and willingness, are among the factors that cultivate long-term success.

We are comfortable sharing our talents and value, but shy away from what we were willing to do to get where we are.

No, I’m not suggesting we give a play-by-play of our actions. But I do think we can share our humble beginnings and difficult trade-offs in a more collaborative way so that other’s don’t feel like they are alone, struggling and making hard choices.


As a first step towards cultivating a more “willing” community, I kindly ask: what have you been willing to do?


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  1. Jess Lively

    I was willing to finance new business ventures with my savings rather than put them in a 401K, which would have been the “safe” or “smart” choice.

    I was willing to do what I could with what I had to see my business grow.

  2. Fel

    i think about this all. the. time. and honestly, i love when people are transparent about what they’re going through.

    to jump in on the convo, i just liquefied my mutual fund so i can move into san francisco and call myself financially independent as i grow my biz.

    thank you for this!! 🙂


    1. Jess Lively

      You are most welcome, Fel! Thank you for sharing. : )

  3. Laura R Yamin

    My favorite prayer is actually praying for the willingness to be willing. For me it has become this fabric of my being where I asked to focus on the next right action and use that bit of willingness coming through.

    1. Jess Lively

      Beautiful, Laura! I’ve been saying a similar prayer/mantra myself. : )

  4. Joanna Platt

    I was willing send an email out to people that participated in my “what do you REALLY want to do?” call last week announcing the launch of my course even though the registration process isn’t as smooth as I’d like to it be and I’m really scared about the whole thing and I’m not really sure what to do next.

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to share! This has been weighing on me a lot today.

    1. Jess Lively

      Aw, you are most welcome!! I’m happy to hear that though things may not be going completely smoothly, that they are moving along. That’s great!

  5. Jess Lively

    That is so nice of you, Chelsey! Thank you for sharing. : )

  6. Ali Cat

    Really great topic which, you’re so right, doesn’t come up very often. I was willing to give up having a traditional income and rely heavily on the barter system and really untraditional income streams to get to do what I love doing.

    1. Jess Lively

      That’s so awesome to hear! Congrats on making it work with what you have.

  7. Good points. I think willingness is the often overlooked secret behind “overnight successes,” most of which were willing to spend a lot of very unsuccessful feeling nights beforehand.

    I was willing to drive to california with only what would fit in the car with $1500 to my name on the bet that I’d be able to make it. So far, I’m still here…

  8. Sara

    This really hit home with me because it’s been difficult to break into the bridal blog community- probably because I’m not the traditional ‘inspiration’ blog. I’m talking about new and different things. I just did a little series on the struggles I experienced with branding and trying to create a blog design that looked legit. It. was. rough. And costly. I’m definitely willing to keep at it, no matter what it takes, but I agree it would be nice if there was more talk about the nitty-gritty and WHAT, in fact, it takes! Love your blog!

    1. Jess Lively

      Amazing! I love that you shared the nitty-gritty along the way to make a brand that is uniquely yours! PS – The brand is great ; )

  9. Emily Trout

    Such a great topic! I’m the one who really *hasn’t* been willing to do anything yet- but my goodness have I thought so much about it!

    Blogging is my release/favorite thing, and I keep wanting to start one but put it off because I enjoy so much following others. It’s so scary to fully put yourself out there but I want to build a brand. As I sit in my cubicle day after day, I realize more and more that there will be a time I “crack” and make the plunge to hopefully blogging/painting, and eventually get that to a point where I can give up the cubicle.

    I have bookmarked so many of your posts Jess! You’re such a great source of advice, and the transparency you offer here makes my trepidation much easier to work through.

    1. Jess Lively

      Best wishes with your plan, Emily!

      I’m honored to hear that the blog has been helping you along this path!

      : )

  10. Sarah Sharon Pennacchio

    This was a lightbulb post for me today. I want so many things, but need to be willing to take the risks to make them happen. For me, at least, this is the hardest part. I know what I need to do, but get scared and end up becoming less willing to take the necessary risks. I’m going to have to add the Course in Miracles to my reading list. Thanks for sharing Jess!

    1. Jess Lively

      Very nice! I wish you the best, Sarah!

  11. jasbanwait

    Thanks for writing this – I am going through alot of that right now and find that no one ever talks about the struggles and hardships but only of the success.

    1. Jess Lively

      You are most welcome.

      Hang in there and *just keep going.*

  12. Jess Lively

    I can totally understand. And though I am one of those “$5 bag of beads to 100 stores across the country stories, you can go into the archives of this blog for the past four years and see the journey unfold. The good, the bad, and the not-so-pretty. : )

    Best wishes!

  13. Jess Lively

    Nice! Yes, willingness is a big topic in my current reading. But I’ll warn you – it’s a pretty intense book and can feel dry for large parts. I suggest checking out A Crash Course in Miracles podcasts to get a feel for the content to help you relate to the material as you read. That helped me a lot.

  14. Erika

    I appreciate this. Knowing that it isn’t just instant or easy for everyone actually makes it more possible for those of us who are looking to get to the other side of the equation.

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