Leaving The B+ Life

By March 17, 2010 24 Comments

I’ve started to notice a phenomenon that I call the B+ life.

In the B+ life, things are good but not great. All the right life elements are in place: good job, good friends, people you love. The checklist items are checked.

The problem is, something feels off. Life feels like it is happening in black and white, rather than in full color. Something in you keeps asking, “Is this all there is?”

The first B+ life I noticed was mine. I had a job that I enjoyed, a great marriage, a lovely home, and wonderful friends. I had good health and good relationships with family. But I had a subtle, very uncomfortable sense that I was not living my right life.

I don’t think of the alternative to the B+ life as an A+ one, because that implies perfection, or life as a test to ace, which is really the opposite of what I’m talking about. I think of the alternative to the B+ life as a life that you know you will conclude with a sense of, “Yes, I was really here. I really did it. I lived, I experienced, I created, I had impact.” It’s a life that is regularly move-you-to-tears poignant, that feels graced with joy.

You could say I’ve spent the past couple of years facing fears and leaving B+, and now, part of my work is helping other people do the same.

If you know that your life – or a part of your life – is hanging out in the grays of B+, here’s what you can do to bring it back into full color:

Forge A Unique Path: Leaving B+ means leaving the herd. The life that will bring you huge meaning and fulfillment probably doesn’t look like the life your buddies or family members are leading.What really brings you joy? What matters most to you? What are your loves and longings?

Do Your Right Work: Your right work is the work you feel called to do, the contribution you feel called to make. I don’t know anyone who is feeling thrilled and jazzed about life who is not also focused on a making a particular, inspired contribution to the world. Your real work can happen through your job, or outside of it.

Reclaim Your Joys. In leaving my B+ life, I came to terms with the fact that the things I really loved when I was five were, for the most part, the things that were going to make me happy as an adult. It’s almost laughably simple. Then we make it complicated. Those things you loved years ago matter. Reclaim them.

Lean Into the Questions: Usually, leaving B+ (or B- or C- etc.) lives comes with uncomfortable and unanswered questions about what we want, what the future will hold, and how to make change in the midst of our responsibilities. As much as you can, see the questions as sources of meaning in themselves—rather than as obstacles to get over. When we see them this way, answers have a soft, welcoming place in which to emerge.
Let Fear Be Your Companion: Doing all of this will evoke fear. In fact it can often feel like lighting a fear bonfire underneath your booty.

There is no going after our right life without doing lots of things that will scare the heck out of us. I’ve come to think of it like this: I’m driving along the road of my life, and fear is the annoying guy leaning out of the minivan in the lane next to me, every step of the way. He’s not in my car, and he’s not in my way. He’s just there, my distracting travelling companion.

I’ve also learned that it is possible to develop fear callouses, a kind of beneficial accustomed-ness to fear. We can get in the habit of feeling afraid every day and still making the phone call, telling the difficult truth, taking the risk. Our little egos get bopped around all the time as things work out well or not. We recover and, good news: the recovery time gets shorter and shorter as we keep choosing action alongside the fear.

Create your unique path. Do your real work. Reclaim your joys. Lean into the questions, and let fear be your travelling companion. There really is something on the other side of the B+ life. It’s beautiful, and much more fun. It is waiting for you.



Join the discussion 24 Comments

  • Joy Plummer says:

    Great post, Tara. I love this. Great seeing you yesterday.

    Be well, love, JOY

  • Topi says:

    Hi Tara,
    Thanks for reminding me to keep fear in perspective. I let fear take the driver’s seat today, and not surprisingly I got a bit off track. Don’t worry, fear is now firmly back in its place, and I’m back on the road. My “knock your socks off life” is on the horizon.
    Cheers, Topi

  • Who says stuff like this? “… let fear be your travelling companion.”

    Not many folks – and yet it’s big, brilliant wisdom. THANK YOU!!

  • janice says:

    I loved this! I’m glad you decided to follow your heart and write as well as coach. You do it beautifully. Thank you, too, for visiting my blog today.

    By the way, ‘Misty Look’ is the theme of my other blog, the non-public one; of all the themes in all the world..what a lovely coincidence!

  • Melinda says:

    Wow – rock solid description of that place of inertial that is so easy to slip into! And so fuflilling to leave….

    Love your words, your writing and your soul!


  • Nadia - Happy Lotus says:

    Hi Tara,

    Fear is poison. Took me a long time to figure that one out but when I did, it changed my life around. Fear is so creative it can disguise itself as being reasonable, logical and sane. However, fear prevents people from really loving and enjoying life.

    It is wonderful that you touched on that point as well as the need to break free from the herd. I think many people prefer to be liked than to be happy.

    Hope all is awesome!

  • sophiashouse says:

    Thanks Joy! Glad you liked it. It was so good to see you too!

  • sophiashouse says:

    Yay! So glad to hear you are back on the road. And I love your point that then fear takes the driver seat we end up off track. Love, Tara

  • sophiashouse says:

    Nadia, lots of thought provoking words about fear here. The idea of fear as a poison is really interesting, and I couldn’t agree more about the ingenuity and creativity of fear – all the ways it gets dressed up and disguises itself in our lives. Love, Tara

  • sophiashouse says:

    Thank you Karen. This made me smile and laugh and I so appreciate your words. Love, Tara

  • sophiashouse says:

    Thanks for coming by Janice, and for your kind words about my writing.

    it’s definitive: great women use this theme. Clearly.

    Love, Tara

  • sophiashouse says:

    Thank you Melinda. So glad you came by.
    We are so supported in our culture in slipping into that place of B+, and so much less supported in leaving it. And yet…
    Love, Tara

  • sophiashouse says:

    Thanks Jennifer!
    My blog is wordpress, but I then bought this url and and had the blog redirect to it. I don’t remember how to do the redirecting, but it was straighforward (and I got a little help from someone who knows the vocabulary.) Glad to hear you are moving forward with your own blog!

  • Jennifer Hanlon says:

    Tara–I love how these recommendations pull us forward into who we are meant to be! We cannot hear these things enough, as you know–so thanks for another gentle, meaningful nudge toward authentic living!!! Jennifer p.s. Is there a link to the place to set up a blog like yours? I am temporarily with and wanted to graduate.

  • Katie Gladding says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post and wonderful words – thank you for sharing this! Your words are bringing some clarity what I’m feeling. Thanks!

  • Rhonda says:

    Thank you for writing this. I traded in my easy life working in an office to work in Afghanistan for a year. Now that I have been based in Kabul for almost 10 months, I am staying on for the wonderful people here.

  • Chasity says:

    this article really hits home with me… I have read it, re-read it and come back to it. thank you! wonderful!

  • Jeanie says:

    Whenever I realize that I am afraid, I picture myself at the top of a mountain, with skiis on, and that half second of fear I have just before I push off!

  • Sarah Lewis says:

    What a great metaphor! I love how you reframe the fear as that prelude to exhilaration.

  • […] of the pain and boredom with the status quo, I became a little more willing to listen to callings that had been whispering to me for a long time – callings that seemed unrealistic, frivolous, […]

  • Laura says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I just left my B+ life, a 15 year career in sales that I truly enjoyed, but always felt like a sensible compromise to my dreams. Now I am finally launching my art and design business, and doing the things I have loved to do since I was five. I used to joke that I had somehow “gotten on the wrong bus” with my old career. It feels so great to finally be on the right bus, and in the driver’s seat, even though the destination is uncertain at this point.
    I found your website last fall, and your words have been a great source of strength and inspiration that helped me make this huge transition in my life. I am so grateful and appreciative of what you are bringing to so many of us! Many thanks!

  • […] perspective is that a B+ life is “gray” and “good, but not great”. She […]

  • […] remember well the moments when I first began to turn away from my own B+ life. I began to allow room for the truth — the truth that I wasn’t fulfilled by the status […]

  • […] remember well the moments when I first began to turn away from my own B+ life. I began to allow room for the truth — the truth that I wasn’t fulfilled by the status […]

We are on a mission to help you realize your playing big dream.
Dive into our resources here: