When Good Enough Isn’t – Why I’m Leaving SEO

July 15, 2011
By Susan Esparza in SEO

Before you panic when you read the next sentence, make sure you read this one and let it sink in that I’m not Lisa; I’m Susan Esparza and for the next several hours—until 5:30 PDT to be accurate – I work at Bruce Clay, Inc. Okay, you can keep reading now.

This is my last day in SEO. My last industry blog post. My last time being harassed by Lisa Barone. (A girl can dream.)

As I announced on our own blog on Monday, I’ve decided to leave Bruce Clay, Inc. I’m not looking to duplicate that post, so there’s no backstory about SEO here. Instead, I’d like to take some time to talk about priorities, passions and reality. (Here’s your other warning: The rest of the week has been solid, actionable posts. This one really isn’t.)

First, I’m massively unqualified to talk about the importance of pursuing your dreams. All I’ve done so far is take a leap. I don’t know where I’m going to land or how many bones I’m going to break when I do. And to tell you the truth, I’m terrified. I’m the most risk-averse person on the planet. I hate taking chances. I’m not brave about things like that.

Things We Forget #697: You'll miss any chance you don't take.Lisa’s talked here about fighting for her voice. Having worked with Lisa, I know precisely how much she treats any “you can’t” as a direct challenge to prove she can. She’ll kick ass and take names and make you hear her, whatever it takes. Forget a unicorn; girl’s a honey badger. When I first told her I was thinking about leaving the industry, she was the first to say ‘go for it’. No reservations, no hedging. Just go and do. Because that’s how Lisa does things. If you tell her that your passion is leading you somewhere else, she shoves you toward the door.

Last year, I lost one of my dearest friends to breast cancer. Victoria was 28 years old and should have had 60 more years to grow and change and live. She didn’t get them but neither did she waste the ones she had. Victoria didn’t live a conventional life. She didn’t play by the typical rules and she didn’t believe in people who told her she couldn’t do something. She fought, every day, every hour. I’m not going to tell you she didn’t want more time or that she was complete in those 28 years. Of course, she wasn’t. But she didn’t think any of it was a waste. When it was important to her, “good enough” never was.

Your priorities are the things you do, not the things you say you’ll do.

The quote up there is something I ran across last week that really hit me. See, there’s nothing wrong with being risk-averse and wanting to have a safe, comfortable life. You just can’t pretend that your priority is your passion when your choices are about safety. To make something your priority, you have to actually work for it.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve said that I wanted to write novels, but I haven’t actually finished any so far. Here’s the thing, though. Up until recently, however much I said I wanted to be a writer, what I really showed my priority was didn’t have anything to do with writing. It was about staying safe and taking the easier path. But what you get when you take the conventional path is a conventional life. You can sell out your passions for your comfort. You get “good enough.” And you may be happy like that but chances are, you’ll always want more.

What I know, what I’ve learned – from women like Victoria and Lisa and dozens of others in the SEO industry and in my life – is that you don’t get to have your dreams come true without a lot of work and a lot of risk. Your life can’t be about playing it safe and it can’t be about never failing. Everyone fails. And it’s awesome.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m throwing my hat over the wall and climbing on after it. Let me be clear: quitting your job, your career, to go write a novel is an idiotic thing to do. It’s a REALLY BAD IDEA by anyone’s measure. Most published authors are not making their livings from writing books. I know that. I don’t think it’s going to be easy, I don’t think it’s going to be risk-free and I don’t think I’m not going to fail a few times while I figure it out. But I think I’ve got to do it.

P.S. Buy my book when I’m done writing it.

Image credit: Things We Forget


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