On a drizzly afternoon in 2013, I was sitting in a Seattle hotel lobby waiting for my friends to come downstairs when my mom called. She was hesitant to bother me on my four day weekend extravaganza but I could tell something was wrong. That was the day I found out my aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a day I will never forget.

It wasn’t the first time I was told that a loved one had cancer, and it wasn’t the last. But it changed the course of my life forever. This call came about 28 years after my grandmother died of ovarian cancer and it was on this call that my mom told me that she was going to have genetic testing. Fast forward a few months and my sister and I found ourselves sitting in a doctor’s office finding out if we also had the BRCA II gene that my mom tested positive for.

As I waited for the results I started thinking about what it would mean if I had the gene. I just turned 29 and I was single. Would I have preventative surgery? When would I do it? As I questioned how my life would change if I had the gene, one thing became apparent. I was not all that happy with my life. It’s not that I thought something was blatantly wrong with it but to be honest, I never felt like I was doing something that made a difference in the world the way I desired to make a difference in the world.

So I made the decision to do things differently. I embarked go on a journey to take my life from meh to living a life I was MADLY in love with. I spent the last 4 years trying to figure out how I could create a life I’m MADLY in love with. Here’s what I discovered:

1. Fear is a powerful dream killer.

Shortly after I found out that my sister and I did not have the BRCA II gene, I decided it was time to go after a career that really lit me up. High on my list was entrepreneurship. I’ve wanted to start my own business for a long time, but in the past I was waiting for the “perfect time”. This time – I just knew it would be different. I started exploring consulting and other service based businesses that I could start and almost immediately after feeling joy, a big sense of fear came over me. Could I really do this? What did I know about starting a business? What if I failed?

One minute I was thinking about starting my own business and the next I had a million reasons why I didn’t know enough to start my own business. Fast forward a few months and I finally did it – I quit my six figure corporate job to start my own business. The next day I was looking for startup jobs so that I could see first hand what it took to build a business because I didn’t “know enough” to go out on my own – or so my brain told me.

Well the startup job won. The second I was hired to head up marketing at a startup, I tossed my dream of entrepreneurship aside and focused on building someone else’s dream company. Why? Because I didn’t believe that it was possible for me to build a successful company (boy was I wrong, but more on that later).

2. Believing what you want is possible can help you act in spite of fear.

A few months shy of two years at the tech startup, I didn’t even recognize myself. I had entered what I call the zombie zone. That place where you go through the motions of life day in and day out without paying attention to the desires of your soul. I was there big time. I was eating ice cream for dinner most nights, I stopped going to my boxing class all together, and I spent most of my days in jeggins or sweatpants to hid the fact that none of my clothes fit. You see I knew I wanted to be of service to others and that I wanted to start my own business. I had known that for years. But I didn’t believe I could do it.

One day as I sat at my desk, I had looked around the office and for the first time in a long time said to myself “this is my life”. This is what I do most days. And for a few moments, I allowed myself to picture what life could look like if I went out on my own. Suddenly I had a million ideas. That creative side of me that I drowned in coffee, ice cream, and Netflix everyday was awakened and speaking louder to me every day. So I stood up, asked my boss if we could talk. And I quit. This time telling myself – if all of these other companies hired me to help them grow their business, why the heck wouldn’t I hire me to do the same. For the first time I believed that I could build a successful business because I knew there was no way I would go back to the land of the walking dead.

3. If you want a life you’re MADLY in love with, choose to.

As I set out to build a coaching business that would bring in more money than I had made in my corporate career I had a vision of making six figures or more almost immediately. But as life often does, I was hit with a reality check. I had months where I made over $5,000 and months where I made $500, but the surprising thing was, I was never happier. I’ll never forget when I woke up to someone buying a $27 mini course while I was sleeping. You would have thought I won the lottery. And that’s when I realized. I get to choose in every moment how I look at my life. I could have looked at making $27 as small reward for all of my hard work or I could have looked at it as my first passive income accomplishment. I could have looked at my past jobs as “working for the man” where people only cared about their bottom line, or I could have looked at it as a way for me to save money and create a company I love. For all I know, I could have been living a life I was MADLY in love with this entire time.

If you want to live a life you’re MADLY in love with or to have the best year ever, I challenge you to take a step. One step towards the life you’ve always wanted. You’ve soooo got this!