I can still remember the girl in the year above me at school that I looked up to – “a good all-rounder” I think the teachers called her, and confident and popular to boot. A role model. Fast forward twenty years and Jenny Blake is one of my grown-up equivalents. With proven success in the corporate world at Google, Jenny took a courageous leap onto her own path to, in her words, “live big” and LifeAfterCollege.org is the result. Speaker, author, coach and yoga teacher – Jenny tells a little more below…
Tell me a little about you/your blog/your mission!
I blog at LifeAfterCollege.org to help others “Wake up, Live Big and Love the Journey” through a mix of my own personal experiences and practical tools and templates. I recently made one of the hardest decisions of my life – I quit my job at Google after five and a half years to build my own business as an author, speaker and life coach. I was terrified that I’d end up in a van down by the river, but I’m thankful to say that so far, 5 months in, I’ve broken even. Finally, I love dogs, dancing, music, travel, and cupcakes.
What is your vision of your best life?
In my best life I’m waking up every day, going for a run, reading with a nice, warm cup of coffee, taking and/or teaching yoga class, reading more, and doing meaningful work (not busy work, and not stressing over the small stuff). I feel like I’m closer to that vision now more than ever, so I’m really trying to focus on enjoying and expanding every moment, and remembering to express my gratitude for my life.
Can you tell us about some of the challenges/obstacles/fears you’ve faced and how you’ve tackled them?
My biggest obstacles are usually internal, I can be my own worst enemy. For a while it was the thought that I’m not smart/pretty/original enough, then when I would succeed, I’d have fears that it was all going to come crashing down at any moment. I’m a highly sensitive person prone to over-thinking and anxiety, so that’s why exercise and yoga are so important for keeping me balanced.
Have you ever thought you had everything planned, only for life to show you an alternative?
Absolutely! I thought I had landed my dream job when I was working at Google. I bought an apartment, bought a car, and was working in Career Development. And yet, something was missing from my life. I started to feel over-worked and unhappy. Little did I know that those feelings were planting the seeds for me to soon quit my job, rent out my house, and move across the country from San Francisco to New York to pursue the roller-coaster of self-employment. I left the corporate ladder and the “American Dream” I had created behind in order to live a life of freedom and spontaneity.
Has there been a ‘defining moment’ that has changed your life/your view of life? What has been the nudge in the right direction for you?
I had a terrible case of “book block” and even though I had a first draft of my book written in 2008, I couldn’t bear to look at it or see it to completion…for SIX months. I felt horrible – like I was watching my dream die on the vine. Then I decided to “act as if” and attend a local Speaker’s Association meeting. While there, I met Michael Larsen, the author of the book How to Write a Book Proposal, and he gave me his copy. I realized it was time to get back on the horse and at least TRY to pitch my book idea to literary agents and publishers. That set me on the course I’m on today, where my book eventually was published by Running Press (after 27 rejections from other publishers) in March of this year. I learned that when something is meant to be, spontaneity and opportunity WILL work in your favor, but only if you meet it halfway with your own conscious effort.
If you were to look back and offer advice to yourself, what 3 pearls of wisdom would you share?
Don’t be so hard on yourself, and release judgment of others.
Express gratitude often.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
What book, piece of music, blog, quote or person inspires you the most?
Martha Beck is an author and one of my personal idols. She wrote the books Finding Your Own North Star andSteering by Starlight, which I recommend to every single person I know! I love quotes too – one of my favorites is “action is the antidote to despair” (Joan Baez).