Wake-up call

Susan Pearse. Photograph by Tanya Love Photography

A solitary question greets the dawn.

“What will I do today if my only work is to bring as much joy into my life as possible?”

The answer calls her to New Farm Park and the Powerhouse. She meanders through an exhibition of Australia’s best press photographs, secures caffeine and absorbs the scene. Over the next hour her journal fattens with the stuff that “lights” her up.

Susan Pearse is conducting an experiment. The hypothesis: To move her business forward, she must slow down.

“I absolutely love my work but you can still get quite attached to something you love and I don’t think that sort of attachment is healthy for anyone.”

She’s razored the “To Do” list, refocused on health and relationships and chiselled time out of the week for nature — to swim in the ocean or lie on the grass.

“New opportunities are not going to flow in if you haven’t created any space. If your diary is crammed, if your mind is full of ideas about how it should be, there is literally no space for anything new to fall in.”

The shift is taking effect.

She has more vitality — the aches and pains are receding. Now, new opportunities spring from chance encounters. Interactions with clients are more playful. Business is … lighter.

An experiment? A mid-life crisis? Or perhaps the experience of a “quarter-life” crisis signalling subtle course correction.

Fifteen years ago life was competition. Successes accumulated but didn’t completely cover a deeper unease.

“That was the point where I went, ‘I don’t know what I want but I don’t want what I’m doing now, so something has to change’.”

Everything changed — her marriage, her career, her home.

The ensuing search for “joy” unearthed purpose. A shopping expedition to New York led to a chance encounter with Richard Gere, a private meeting with the Dalai Lama and ultimately creating a business to take mindfulness mainstream.

“Taking stock of what is fuelling your passion right now is really important because you don’t want to get the wake-up calls that totally turn your life upside down.”

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This occasional series of articles is my attempt to capture one small moment in the lives of everyday entrepreneurs in my network in 300 words, or 60 seconds for the average reader.

Other stories include:

Three questions
Small is beautiful
Good days