Founder Stories

I Went From Daydreamer to Entrepreneur in One Psychedelic Trip

How to go from six-figure salary to startup founder, with only a big idea and a small bank account? Mushrooms, for starters

Credit: InnaPoka/Getty Images

II sat on the idea of Renew Breakup Bootcamp for over a year. In an endless state of planning, I was never “ready” enough. The humming and hawing of launching my first boot camp was exhausting. If there was an excuse to rationalize away my procrastination and countless delays, I’d find it. But this wasn’t just about leaving a job, it was about leaving a system that I had spent decades feeling comfortable in.

After all, I was trained to be a corporate cog since grade school — a system that sets you up to study hard, strive for good grades, and get rewarded if you’ve been obedient, disciplined, and well-behaved. If you play in that structure well, then you get the jobs. It’s not a system designed for rebels, trailblazers, or those who dare question the status quo.

Nope. Instead, you’re taught to conform. Please your bosses, be the first to arrive, and last to leave. Navigate office politics. Be a value add, but never too opinionated. Then maybe, just maybe, you get to advance to the big boys table.

I learned the game and played it well. I knew whose egos not to bruise, which allies to make, how to appear confident yet not bitchy in one big, can-do, can-please attitude. I was the only C-level exec on my team and was proud of that. To walk away from everything I had prepared my life trying to attain seemed crazy. But my decades of programming to be an obedient student turned good employee all changed one night with a little help from my friends. Enter: magic mushrooms.

To this day, I still can’t quite put it into words, but it’s a feeling that I have a mission that’s bigger than me.

The psychedelics made me do it

Guided by a shaman (who denounces the title of shaman, as shamans do), I was led through a six-hour sound meditation with nothing but an eye mask, hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms, and an open mind. In complete darkness with melodic sounds of gongs and sound bowls enveloping my senses, I surrendered to the psychedelic trip that would ultimately be the push I needed to leave my job.

During my journey in some other parallel dimension, I had an out of body experience, as one does. I was suddenly transported into a scene that resembled The Last Supper, except there were women decadently dressed in white gowns around the table. One of the women came up to me, radiating in light, and passed me a chalice. She looked me in the eye and said: “You have to stop giving your power away. You have a big job to do. We are passing this responsibility off to you.”

As if I was the last in the relay to carry the baton home, I got the download loud and clear: It was time. I have a calling, and I needed to actualize it.

When the ceremony was over, I had an overwhelming sense of “knowing.” To this day, I still can’t quite put it into words, but it’s a feeling that I have a mission that’s bigger than me. It’s that very feeling that gets me through the hard days — when I don’t know how I’m going to make rent, or when I feel the anxiety of not being able to fill my boot camps, when I question if I’m crazy for leaving a secure paycheck. That’s been the hardest part of it all — to have a deep internal trust, even amidst the external chaos and challenges.

Dare to dream bigger

When I broke the news to my CEO about my resignation, he asked me what my vision for my company was. I told him my humble plans of hosting a few retreats and doing some consulting to keep myself afloat. I was thinking small, after all who was I to think I could be some great business woman. It seemed arrogant to announce big dreams or aspirations.

“Amy, you could be the Tony Robbins of relationships”.

I chuckled and said, “Yeah right. I can’t do that.”

He looked me in the eye with all seriousness and said, “Why not?”

I paused. He was right, why couldn’t I build something way bigger than a small retreat business? Thinking small was not doing myself, my business, or the world any favors. If I was going to do this, I might as well go big. I had no idea how to get there, but my North Star moved. Destination: heartbreak empire.

Instead of my default, fear-based thinking of all the reasons why I couldn’t do something, I started to get in the habit of asking myself a different question: Why the fuck not.

Ask a different question

I started to reframe my relationship with possibility. Instead of my default, fear-based thinking of all the reasons why I couldn’t do something, I started to get in the habit of asking myself a different question: Why the fuck not.

As I started shifting my focus from doubt to expansion, I got more comfortable with risk. I accounted for the fact that along my journey I would fall, get rejected, and make plenty of mistakes. I made a commitment to get back up each time I stumbled.

This wasn’t comfortable at first. There were always convenient excuses and rationalizations of why I couldn’t do something. Decades of hardwiring can make this my default reaction and I had to make to make a concerted effort to override this programming.

Perfection is procrastination in disguise

I knew that if I kept planning and waiting for things to be just right I’d never start. I realized that perfection was procrastination in disguise. It’s also impossible to foresee all the pivots that will happen later down the road, so trying to plan it all out now would be futile. I adopted a mentality of: launch it now, develop it later. To override planning paralysis, I developed a habit of taking action. I kept creating as a way of being.

The first step is a psychological one

If you’ve got an idea you’ve been brewing, a dream you’ve been procrastinating, I encourage you to just take the first step.

Commit to a date. The moment you have that idea, that spark, commit to the next step. Buy the ticket, book the space — do something that energetically commits you to launching. This holds you accountable. Dare to put yourself out there — start a free blog, make short videos, interview people smarter than you — whatever your medium, just share it. Don’t worry about who’s going to read it, see it, or buy it.

There’s a small window where the courage to get out of your comfort zone exists, and once it expires, your left brain will flood you with every rationalization why you’re not ready and why you can’t. Your brain is designed to keep you safe and comfortable. It wants you to Netflix and chill versus take a risk and conquer. You need to exert extra energy and override your brain’s default comfort mode in order to create expansion, because it won’t feel natural.

Just take the first step. That’s it.

Once you finish that first one, then focus on the one after that. One small step after another and you’ll get closer to your goal.

Eventually the steps add up. There’s a compound effect.

You’re tricking your brain with smaller, achievable steps and creating a positive feedback loop that eventually creates momentum.

Go get it.

Chief Heart Hacker // Editor // @missamychan

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