There is No Burning Bush (or How to Go After Your Dreams)

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Catherine Caine.

I’m not religious, but I got suckered by those tales of prophets and holy men nonetheless.

In all of those stories – and the other myths and fables of my childhood – people get a clear and unmistakable message from Someone Important that it’s time to build the boat or look after the poor or do some other life-defining work.

There is zero ambiguity about the angel of God descending with a fiery sword to tell you that This Is What You Must Do.

And there was a voice in my heart that believed those stories and told me to wait: wait for the burning bush and the clap of thunder and the rising chorus.

That Voice Kept Me from Doing Anything Great for Nearly a Decade.

I dabbled with ideas of “Wouldn’t it be nice to work for myself? Wouldn’t it be great to have a job that meant something?” I thought wistfully about it as I ate my lunch in a series of pleasant but uninspiring jobs.

Over and over I said, “This time. This time I’ll go for it. As soon as it feels right.”

But it never did feel right. (Translation: no twinkly lights, no sword in a stone, no Voice From Above.) There was just me, looking at spreadsheets and thinking, “There has to be more to my life than this.”

There was a day that I wish I could describe. I wish with all my heart I could wrap up the essence of that day, that moment, to share with others and to help them along… but all I can say is that one day I stopped waiting for the gods to choose me and I chose myself.

I started working. I kept on working. And not very many months later I had my own full-time business.

In all of those months, there was no day of divine certainty. I had no idea if this was the right idea, or if it would flourish, or if it was doomed to fail. I simply decided that I was going to work, and see what happened.

This Isn’t the End of the Story.

Less than a year later, I was sitting by a pool in Las Vegas, contemplating the business that had grown enough to fling me halfway across the world into the loving arms of friends and fellow entrepreneurs.

I had money coming in and I loved the people I got to work with. I wallowed in freedom, flexibility and fun.

So why did I think there was something missing?

I spent that time by the pool daydreaming: was this all I could do? Was my business as heart-stoppingly kick-ass as it could be?

No, it wasn’t. I was still proud of it, for sure – I’d built a business of my very own, with no experience – but I knew that my current business wasn’t a reflection of my absolute best work.

Something was still missing. And by now I knew that friendly river spirits wouldn’t tell me what it was, so I went figuring it out for myself.

The Missing Piece

I’d gone through all the sleepless nights and uncertainty and argh-ness because I wanted more.

I didn’t want another pleasant but meaningless job. I didn’t want to look back on my life and think, “Is that all I did? Man, I wasted my life.”

And my business had tiny tastes of that urging for greatness, but there wasn’t enough of it.

Once I’d figured that out, I didn’t wait for the signs: I just went ahead.

I completely changed my business.

I came home from Vegas and:

  • neglected my website
  • started a new website with a new focus
  • abandoned any client who wasn’t an amazing fit with my new path
  • created entirely new services to rock the pants off my best audience

The core underneath every one of those changes was this simple idea:

I Want to Spend Every Hour on Magnificent Work.

I want to change the world.

And so naturally those new services and articles and everything else reflected that urge to create magnificence. I started attracting people who wanted to blaze, and finding ways to make them shine brighter than they ever had before.

I started asking my clients very practical questions about how they planned to change the world, and how improving their marketing could help them do that. And their answers sometimes brought me to tears, as they told me about the beautiful work they were now ready to create.

It’s been amazing.

Every day of work is glorious. I have more clients, more meaning, more joy and more impact with my work than I ever have before.

I’ve Become a Transformation Addict.

Helping people to identify, articulate and power up their best work has became my absolute favorite activity.

I want to spread the message and enable as many people as possible to create their most magnificent work for the audience who can’t get enough of it. I need to keep upping my own game to produce more glorious work every day.

In just over a year, I’ve gone from wage-slave to business owner to magnificence amplifier.

And there has never, ever been a fairy or an archangel to tell me that it was the right moment to make all of these sweeping changes.

The Moral of the Story

No-one ever tells you when it’s time to shine.

There’s no engraved invitation or bolt of lightning or even a subtle hint. Your friends don’t know, and neither does your mastermind group.

Your audience won’t know that it’s time. The industry certainly won’t. No-one knows when you’re ready to start creating your most amazing work. (Not even you.)

It will never feel like it’s the right time.

The right time is whatever moment you stand up and say, “You know what? I’m going to make something magnificent!”

No-one will tell you when it’s time. Because no-one does.

(Remember that.)

Catherine runs Cash and Joy from her secret underground lair in Brisbane, Australia. Her nefarious plan is to help every creative service provider start delivering their best work to their best audience. Mwa ha ha ha!

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  1. Hi Cathrine!

    Thanks for sharing your story, a lot of people (including myself) can relate to it, that’s awesome!

    It always seems easier to just sit around waiting for your calling to arrive, but in the end that’s just an excuse to put it off. Just getting out there, and doing what is takes is what brings you to your calling and true passion!

    Thanks again! πŸ™‚

  2. Hey Catherine,
    Good to see you here. Interesting opening reference, but I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation of the stories. From my understanding, there is no promise to receive your calling from Someone Important. I’ve always believed the overriding message is that we are called to love.

    Nevertheless, I get your point and good on you for stepping up to the plate and recognizing what was on your heart. I’ve seen you grow from be awesome online to cash and joy and you are definitely doing awesome work. The moral of your story is well-taken and I appreciate your encouragement for individuals to step into their own greatness. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Marlee,

      Looking back, I agree: I don’t think my interpretation of the stories was a good one either!

      But it was what I thought, and it was a cage.

      Thank you again for staying on the ride. πŸ™‚


  3. “Don’t be chosen…make the choice to choose.”
    — “Mama Said’, Seanan McGuire (the same one who wrote ‘Wicked Girls’, amusingly enough…)

    Sometimes I get a little annoyed that I seem to express myself best by quoting other people, but what the crap, it works…

  4. It is interesting that I came across this post today. I have spent more than a year trying to fully transition into a full time online business. When I started I knew absolutely nothing… It was just an idea, I kept reading and working and trying to adapt. I am finally starting to make some headway and I can see all the dots starting to line up.

    The big challenge now is my relationship. The girl I am with is one of the kindest people I have ever known but now she is fed up of waiting for me to make my business work. She doesn’t believe in what I am doing anymore and wants me to give it up and just work hard at some type of traditional job I guess.

    I’m not willing to give up, no matter what, but days like today are hard and a real wake up call… Sometimes I think I won’t ever make it though and I’ll end up losing the person I love

    Thanks for the post,

    • Dear Jason,

      I was incredibly lucky in having The Dude continue to support my choices, but even he got pretty tired of hearing about the Next New Thing I was *definitely* going to make a living from this time.

      If you want to sign up for a free 30-minute Marketing Check-up over on my site, maybe we can figure out what needs to happen to get your business full time, and keep your girl happy. I hope so.

      Much love,

  5. Hey Catherine!

    It’s great to know that you’re taking charge and creating spectacular work and helping other creative people who want to let it out create the same work and help people shine. You’re right, there is no “right” time. Now is all there is and when over, that’s it.

    Keep rocking it and stay awesome!

  6. first of all….BIG KUDOS for using/inventing the word “argh-ness”!!!

    I just want to say that i am a big fan of your work Catherine. in fact, you are actually the inspiration and catalyst for my decision to create my own info-product this summer.
    that said….this post was such a wonderful validation for so many of my own thoughts. i spent years, myself, waiting for my “ship to come in”…when, in reality, I should have been swimming out to it.

    I didn’t figure this out until recently (6 months ago…actually). i still have no idea if what i am doing will work…but, now i know that if it doesn’t, I’ll just have to try something else.
    keep up the good work. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Anthony!

      I spent years, myself, waiting for my β€œship to come in”…when, in reality, I should have been swimming out to it. — that line is GOLD.

      With that attitude it's only a matter of time before you make it. πŸ™‚


  7. Catherine, A great read, and a wonderful reminder for me to just do it! Plus seeing you are from Brisbane, I said an automatic Go girl, I was in Brissy on the weekend and learn when I ask for something in my life and have a stubborn resolve to accept nothing less, life magnificiently responds. Cheers from Lismore Northern NSW.

  8. Jessica says:

    Hmm, interesting perspective. I’ve always found that the sleepless nights were the signs from above that something wasn’t right. Or rather the signs from within. It’s when I’ve hit the wall and fallen on my bum that my plans got shaken up and soon after a new beginning came.

    And to me that’s not as scary as seeing a burning bush or needing to burn some bush – I guess insomnia is the way it works for some of us.

    Great thoughts and I look forward to what comes!

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