I read the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho in 2004. At the time, I was working as a marketing executive at Johnson & Johnson in their consumer division, home of some of the best loved brands in America.
Anyone who works in marketing knows that the hours are long and the stress is high. I loved my job, but I was struggling to balance work with family as my two young children were 6 and 8 years old. I didn’t want anyone else raising my family for me, I wanted to do that myself and was really struggling with how to keep a semblance of balance while working at such a high pressure job that warranted long hours.
I had recently joined a book club in town and on a particularly stressful week, the book that the group decided to read was ‘The Alchemist.’
It literally changed my life.
The allegorical story focuses on a young Andalusian boy named Santiago who wants to travel around the world in search of worldly treasures. He journeys throughout Tangiers and Egypt and finally comes to an encounter with the alchemist of the title.
Through his journey and his encounter with the alchemist, Santiago finds the courage to follow his personal legend. He finds helpers and fairy godfathers at every turn in his path who help him learn to keep up his courage, to read the omens he is presented with and to find and follow his own heart.
This simple allegory opened my heart and mind to the fact that as the young Santiago learns, “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”
I was so moved by the lesson in the book that I came to the realization that I wanted to follow my heart and quit my job at Johnson & Johnson and start a consulting firm so that I’d have more flexibility to raise the kids. It took me about 2 more years after reading the book to get the whole plan in place and find the clients but the dream was born and formed during the reading of “The Alchemist.”
The book and Santiago’s journey gave me the courage to leap out into the unknown and trust that it would all work out. Which it did. I’ve been steadily self-employed since 2006 when I resigned from J&J to start my own company.
It’s made my life wonderful, I have an incredibly flexible work life which has allowed me to work full time while able to balance raising my two kids, who are now teens.
I’m there to meet my kids every day around 3:00 when they come home from school with their back packs full and all their teenager attitude. They tell me how boring school is and how stupid their classes are and I get to hear all the latest school gossip. And they actually open their mouths to talk to me a little and let me know what’s going on.
So I owe Paulo Coelho my transformation from a tightly wound corporate business woman to a relaxed (or as relaxed as I can ever be) home based marketing consultant. Still making good money.
How about you? Have you read “The Alchemist” and did it transform your life? Or was there another book that did that for you? Please share! I’m always looking for good books.
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