Key Stories Of People Who Took Back Their Lives (You Can Do It Too)

people, life, success


Key Stories Of People Who Took Back Their Lives (You Can Do It Too)

Written by: Janet Early

It’s easy to feel powerless when it seems like life is happening to you without your consent.

But it’s also possible to turn that feeling around and take control of your own life.

Today’s society implies a general life path: go to college, work a 9-5 job to pay the bills, then get married and have kids at a reasonable age.

There’s nothing wrong with that life path, as long as it’s rooted in your personal goals instead of fear of failure or ostracization. For many, the formerly sought after “American Dream” feels like a burden you’re expected to live up to rather than a route to success.

Most of the people who you would consider very successful – i.e. Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and Dr. Seuss – failed several times and faced criticism for pursuing their goals.

However, they decided their gut instincts were more important than being perceived as “weird,” “reckless” or a “failure.” And they each did pretty okay.

Even if you feel stuck right now, there is always a way to start fresh and move closer to your true passions. Read the stories below to see how other people did just that:

Karen Clark Cole’s Story

At 41 years old, Karen Clark Cole was a new mom and CEO of a consulting firm. She became terrified of the strange symptoms she began experiencing, such as sporadic tunnel vision, arm numbness and speech problems. These tend to be signs of severe problems like strokes or multiple sclerosis.

However, her eventual diagnosis surprised her – her symptoms weren’t caused by a serious debilitation; they were caused by a combination of sleep deprivation and stress.

These two factors caused asymptomatic migraines, a type of migraine that does not cause a headache sensation, but interrupts receptors in the brain, such as those that control eyesight, coordination and speech.

Since the eyeopening diagnosis, Karen committed to 8 hours of sleep each night, re-structured her company to operate on a strict 40-hour max work week and supported health and wellness ventures for her employees. Her distressing symptoms have disappeared.

Noelle Hancock’s Story

Noelle Hancock was making close to a 6-figure salary in a prestigious New York City journalism career, when she decided to quit and move to a small island in the Caribbean.

Dissatisfied and stressed out in the city that never sleeps, she longed for somewhere where time passed more slowly and that could provide a sense of meaning she couldn’t realize in the concrete city.

The Yale graduate ended her lease, packed a few possessions and moved to St. John Island, where she worked a number of odd jobs to pay for necessities, including a job as an ice-cream scooper. The satisfaction this slow-paced lifestyle offered Noelle was far superior to anything she had known as a career woman in NYC.

While the nontraditional path Noelle pursued did not come with financial stability and was perceived as “reckless,” it opened up an entirely new way of living that offered her a level of success that she couldn’t achieve working a prestigious job in a major city.

Jonathan Banks’ Story

After eight years of working in the UK’s telecommunications industry, Jonathan Banks chose to take a brief period off work before pursuing his MBA. Passionate about sailing, Jonathan met his friend in the Caribbean and spent a few months on the waters.

After returning to England to pursue the MBA, Jonathan received a sudden offer to work as a skipper on a boat for a 3-4 year trip around the world.

Ultimately, Jonathan chose sailing over pursuing the MBA. Consequently, he earned what he deemed to be a broader, more fulfilling education from sailing than he could have achieved in higher education.

After the trip, he chose not to return to the telecommunications industry, but instead to move to America and pursue a career in the marine industry.

Do you have a passion that has taken a backseat to a career or other lifestyle choice?

Ask yourself:

  • Are you satisfied in your current lifestyle, meaning there is nothing else you strongly long for?
  • Is there a passion or goal that you once valued dearly, but is no longer a part of your life?
  • Do you find your everyday environment to be stressful or motivational? 

If you determine there is in fact something else you’re longing for, brainstorm steps you can take to get closer to that goal. Your moves don’t have to be as drastic as those in the stories above, but if something feels untethered about your life, it’s worth seeking resolution.

If you know you could be happier, the first step is… to take the first step.


“Our dreams aren’t ridiculous. In fact, they aren’t really ‘dreams’ at all. They are who we are.”

– Melissa Hughes, writer

“If you’re constantly thinking you need a vacation, maybe what you really need is a new life.”

– Noelle Hancock

“Chart a new path to success, remaking it in a way that includes not just the conventional metrics of money and power, but a third metric that includes wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving, so that the goal is not just to succeed but to thrive.”

– Arianna Huffington, writer, journalist, businesswoman


Janet Early

Janet Early

Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
Janet Early


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