#MakingMoves: How 4 Dubai Women Quit Their Jobs to Pursue Their Passions

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Goodness recently hosted four phenomenal Dubai women for a panel discussion. The topic? How they pursued their passions to craft the career of their dreams. Get to know them better in the gallery below before reading some of their best quotes from our talk.


On Life Before the Shift

“I thought, if I continue like this, I’m going to suffocate on my words and my songs and I’m gonna die and no one’s going to be happy. I certainly won’t be happy. I didn’t want to live a life where I wasn’t being authentic. I was in constant conflict with myself.” – Layla Kardan

“Art is something I used to get pleasure from, so being paid to create as an architect sometimes felt like I was selling my feelings.” – Randa Haddadin

“How does it feel to go to bed every night without feeling fulfilled? I had clinical depression. It manifests itself physically when you’re not doing what’s right for you. It’s physical discomfort.” – Layla Kardan

“You work so hard for something you don’t really want and someone who is not really you.” – Tracy Harmoush

On Finding What It Is You Want to Do

“It’s great to want to follow your passion. But what is your passion? When you figure out what you love, you’re in a much safer place.” – Tracy Harmoush

“It wasn’t until I got my first project that I realized I might have done the right thing.” – Randa Haddadin

“I wrote down a list of skills, a list of limitations, and I scratched things off, trying to figure out what I could monetize. I tested them and then I realized that, wow, I could love and do this. This is helpful when you don’t have an obvious passion.” – Tracy Harmoush

On Making the Shift

“Leaving corporate was not the best thing I did. Quitting what I didn’t want to do was the best thing I did.” – Tracy Harmoush

“My husband told me to do it and that I had what it takes. But it doesn’t matter what people say; you need to hear it within you.” – Randa Haddadin

“We all put hard work into our jobs, but putting that into something you like versus something you don’t like is a different world. You don’t feel as distraught, tired, drained. I can work 18 hours a day now, but that doesn’t phase me. I love what I do.” – Tracy Harmoush


On Preparing Financially

“When I left, I wasn’t ready and I struggled for six months. I did the assessing and financial planning after I quit. I wish I had done it earlier. I had to be on a budget for a while; not eat out, make my own food, etc.” – Tracy Harmoush

“Hire people to help with what you can’t do, like finance and building a website. You don’t have to do everything yourself.” – Randa Haddadin

“That’s what I regret the most: not starting to save earlier.” – Ghida Arnaout

“You need money, but you don’t need as much money as you think you do. I realized that, when I was working in finance, I used to spend so much money on pointless things, on escaping my situation.” – Tracy Harmoush

“I took this very seriously because I needed money to live but I also needed money to fund my project. Music is expensive to make. I also got creative to make the money I needed; I sold my designer bags and shoes.” – Layla Kardan

On Having the Right Drive and Motivation

“Let the universe guide you, but also you’ve got to be your own CEO. You’ve got to wake yourself up, get yourself to work.” – Layla Kardan

“I spent the first five months in my pajamas, and that could happen to you too.” – Randa Haddadin

“Sitting under your blanket and working is not as efficient as putting your clothes on and going to work from a coffee shop. When I first started, I would go and sit in my brother-in-law’s office, just to be in that mindset.” – Tracy Harmoush

“It’s really important to have a routine.” – Ghida Arnaout

On the Reaction of Those Around You

“The people closest to you will be the least supportive, because they are the most afraid for you. The people that are slightly further away and who worry less about you will be the ones telling you, ‘You’ve got this.'” – Tracy Harmoush

“My family still thinks this is a phase that I’m going to grow out of.” – Ghida Arnaout

“You have to be your own hype girl. You have to believe so much in what you’re doing.” – Layla Kardan

“You have to be a bit selfish and put yourself first. You can’t worry too much about how worried people are for you.” – Randa Haddadin

“Everyone around you will try to stop you because it’s not what they want for you. But what do you want for you?” – Ghida Arnout

On Having a Backup Plan

“It can help to have another stream of income. For instance, I have collaborations through my Instagram account and I love giving workshops.” – Tracy Harmoush

“When you have a backup plan, you don’t have conviction in yourself. Backup plans are dangerous.” – Layla Kardan

“My degree and my ten-year career are kind of my backup plan, but having an actual backup plan is subconsciously telling yourself that you don’t believe you’re going to succeed.” – Tracy Harmoush

On Dealing With What Other People Think of You

“You need to learn to pep talk yourself. There are plenty of tools you can use, like hypnosis, positive affirmations, and so on. It may sound crazy, but if you don’t believe in yourself, no one is going to believe in you.” – Layla Kardan

“You can be the juiciest peach in the world, but not everyone likes peaches.” – Layla Kardan

“Everyone will give you advice. It made me feel like I was doing things wrong or not doing enough. It was then a conscious choice to disconnect from certain people. You choose people who are similar; who understand what you’re trying to do.” – Randa Haddadin

“Culturally, it’s important for a woman to be perceived in a certain way, otherwise a man won’t take you to be his wife or you won’t be respected in the community. But you know what? Isn’t it better to be respected for being someone who you truly are rather than respected for being someone you’re not?” – Layla Kardan

“You need to have thick skin. I’m constantly exposing myself to criticism. People say, ‘Oh she’s fat’ or ‘Oh she can’t sing’. I’m a human; some days I don’t sound good and some days I don’t look good. But at least I’m putting myself out there and I’m proud of that.” – Layla Kardan

“It’s nice to be respected by society, but it’s nicer to go to bed feeling fulfilled.” – Layla Kardan