At some point eventually, inevitably, this ‘vessel’ that I am starts to splinter apart into fragments. Like a ship, I feel as though I am sinking into the abyss from the overload of work related stress, burnout, resentment, disempowerment, illness and imbalance. It’s too much for too long. The cracks run deep now. I am no longer a stable, sustainable vessel. Trying to bail out what burdens me seems futile. This time the S.O.S message is REAL. “Save Our Soul” cries the voice in my mind.
the proverbial fork in the road, a distinct and crucial choice is before me.
More of the same – surely at the demise of my eroding personal well-being. Or
charting a new course – navigating with my inner compass toward something
unknown requiring courage, trust and curiosity that will lead me to a better quality life. One that
feels purposeful. One that inspires and energizes me to be in greater
service for humanity and the planet. One that nourishes my soul and my
connections in life.
This is my story. Feeling tethered to a job that became soulless I eventually made the necessary choice to leave a 16.5-year career to embark on a transformational journey to create the life I desire to live. Endless stories of similar substance are out there, each with a unique transformational journey. They’re all deeply personal. What I found in reading other people’s stories is they provided inspiration, encouragement and a deep sense of not being alone as I embarked on my journey. I share below some of the things that worked for me. May it provide you with some inspiration to ignite your desired change into creative action.
Establishing a substantial sabbatical fund that met my basic needs for the length of my ‘time-out’ and provided a level of comfort to avoid unnecessary worry was an important foundational step. I personally saved to cover my basic needs for 6 months, which was extended beyond a year as I acquired new FUN sources of income.
Creating a support system of family and friends, those I can count on to offer emotional support if and when I needed it was vital. Saving the voice messages and written words of congratulations and encouragement for finally taking this big step was a great benefit down the road (more on this later).
Making my decision to leave my work from an empowered place, not a victim place was critical. Leaving with one’s head held high knowing you are taking full responsibility for your life and you did everything you could to change the things you were in control of (particularly yourself) is the way to ensure there is no blame cast on what was not working.
I learned to enjoy the newfound freedom at the outset. To resist jumping right into a new busy schedule and the ‘doing, doing, doing’, ‘go, go, go’ was essential. No alarm clocks. No schedules. Like summer holidays as a child. Tick off some bucket list items. Explore the edges of your comfort zone. Get creative. Shake it up.
I underestimated the amount of rest and rejuvenation my mind, body and spirit was thirsting for after prolonged stress and burnout. Honor your needs. No shame or guilt!
Eventually I eased into some structure so I didn’t end up completely untethered. I started engaging in the things that I had been putting off for years because of always being too busy and stressed. These were the things that were meaningful to me and gave me a sense of purpose. They helped me gain clarity and the inspiration to create the life and career I desired.
Caution: Mind Gremlins Ahead
Oh there will be mind gremlins.
‘What did you do?’
‘You should have sucked it up!’
‘How could you give up a high paying job with benefits?’
Rather than try to block them out, I listened. I then let them know their concerns had been heard, everything will be fine, and they will be cared for.
This is when pulling out the saved voice messages and written words of congratulations and encouragement came in handy to remind myself that I did do the RIGHT thing and I have an awesome personal cheerleading squad supporting me.
And when the money chatter started up such as “I can’t buy this like I used to”, what I found was changing that statement to “I choose not to buy this” immediately aligned with my core values of wanting to minimize my footprint on this planet and not wanting to contribute to unnecessary consumerism. I no longer felt any false sense of lacking. It felt liberating.
How am I today?
Calm, balanced, joyful and feeling purposeful.
I am available to connect meaningfully with others, no longer trying to escape contact in order to protect the last drop of my energy. I have energy to share and am truly able to be there for others now.
Fun, interesting and engaging work opportunities have been streaming in over the year and a half since I left my work. I can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to them. If I say yes, it’s when I want and there’s no stress, no overload, no overwhelm. Meanwhile I have the energy and time to create the work I am passionate about in my personal business.
My idea of success has been transformed from degrees, extra hours, stress and burnout to the quality of my existence that directly and importantly influences what I contribute to life. My success is now meaningful and comes from within and it underpins my ability to be in service to humanity and the planet.
Was leaving my career one of the best things I’ve ever done?
The contrast of my personal well-being before and after is proof.
Sure fears have come to the surface now and again, but as Susan Jeffers says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Here’s to you creating a health-full, purposeful life with grace and confidence.