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One Year to Purpose — a former marketing manager gives himself one year to get "on purpose"

How a former marketing manager took a leap to follow his purpose with only an “unanswered question” guiding his steps.

Brian Critchley was on vacation in Cape Cod, when he had the “aha” that would lead him on a path away from his 40-hour position as a marketing manager toward owning his own practice in therapeutic massage and yoga.

The vacation was ending and he was doing some yoga and meditation, addressing the dread that he felt in returning home to his job. It was no longer energizing. In fact, when he came home from work every evening, he felt depleted.

Brian is tall, with short brown hair and a faint goatee that appears on occasion. His eyes sparkle when he says, “It’s funny where wisdom comes from.” A friend some years prior had moved to New York City to be an actor. The friend gave himself exactly one year to do everything he could to make his dream a reality. In one year, he would assess his progress, but not before.

His friend was one step ahead of Brian—his purpose was clear. Brian on the other hand “had no idea” what he’d be doing. “I just knew that by the end of one year, I wouldn’t be doing that job anymore,” he recalls.

After contemplating making a change for a while, this was not the insight he thought he’d come upon. “I thought change would come in a flash,” he says. Rather, “It was the unanswered question that came in a flash. The answer actually took a while.”

Thus, his year toward purpose began. He would not quit his job but rather explore what was calling him. And that’s when things started getting interesting.

“I got back from vacation,” Brian says, “and the yoga studio where I’d made my home had a brochure out about teacher training. It wasn’t there before vacation. I believe that there are certain things that come into your life at a certain time and act like a guidepost. They give you the inspiration and insight when you need it.”

“By that fall, I was learning to be a yoga teacher, and this lasted until spring. This was the first time I felt some hope that I could make a difference in life.”

Brian was already a certified massage therapist, but this practice had languished under the weight of the 40-hour job. Lacking energy at the end of the day, he had said “no” to opportunities that might have grown this practice. Energized by the hope for change, “I began to say yes to everything!” he remembers. “And the more I said yes to opportunities, the more they came.”

By the fall, he was teaching yoga and receiving more and more calls for massage.

Brian admits to being a consummate planner. Rather than waiting to assess his progress til the end of the year, toward Spring, he was crunching the numbers, to determine if he could make the leap he wanted to and quit his job before his one year mark.

Fast forward to mid-June. He is giving his resignation at his desk job, two weeks shy of his one-year mile post. He has in the meantime successfully launched Om Central Jersey Massage and Yoga. “Without the weight and time of the 40-hour job, the massage and yoga practice just took off.” In time, he honed these practices even further to offer personalized therapeutic massage and yoga for people who have specific goals in mind.

Brian suggests that being “on purpose” gives him more time for joy in his life. “When it’s murky, the amount of energy you put into fear and doubt and mental wrangling takes the place of joy and happiness and living in the moment. I am where I’m supposed to be, without doubting or second-guessing.”

“When I was a child,” he says, “and people asked me, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would either answer a smart-aleky, ‘tall’—which I achieved—or ‘I want to be a teacher.’”

This spring, not only will he be a teacher of yoga, but also teaching teachers themselves, passing on the knowledge he has gained of the therapeutic uses of yoga. Teacher training began last week, at Onsen for All, a spa in Kingston, NJ.

“What I hope new teachers get out of it,” he says, “is to find their own teaching voice, that intuitive guide within themselves, so that they can be present in offering a unique yoga session to their students.”

As for the future, Brian observes, he would like to fulfill his student’s requests for CD’s and DVD’s, as well as retreats. “Wherever my personal journey leads me, that is where my purpose is going to go. They’re not separate paths anymore.”

His advice to people who are in that place of knowing it’s “not this” but not having a clear alternative or path? “Don’t let a lack of a destination stop you from beginning your journey. You can start moving forward without that knowledge.”

Still, he says, when you can focus on a more specific vision, you can avoid spinning your wheels in many different directions. “When you can discern a narrow path and hone your resources and energy and stick to that, the forward momentum can be mind-blowing.”