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Does work dominate your life?

How I stopped being defined by my job

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

A few years ago, my life was all about work. A good day at work meant a good day overall. A bad day at work affected my home life and how I felt about myself. Although I was proud of my career achievements, my self-worth and identity were completed tied to my work and it just wasn’t healthy. My job took up so much time that I had little going on outside of work. I was bored, uninspired, certain there was more to life but unsure of exactly what I wanted, let alone how to achieve it. I know I’m not alone in this. I have met many people who are proud of their achievements but want more from life and don’t know where to begin.

I decided to leave my job to start a new life. I took my first ever solo trip; did my first skydive, made a new (now very close) friend and overcame a fear of travelling alone – all of this in just 5 incredible, life changing days! I felt so free and full of life and knew I needed more of this. The day after I got home, I had a job interview, got the job and very quickly fell back into my old pattern of working too much, being defined by my work and fantasising about leaving it all behind. Why was it so hard to break out of this pattern when I knew I didn’t want this anymore? One word: fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. I knew I wanted to travel the world. I knew I wanted to be self employed. I knew I wanted to empower people to live their best lives. I also knew I had bills to pay. I wasn’t prepared to risk losing everything I had spent so long building, with no guarantee of success.

I decided to try new things to learn more about myself and what made me feel alive, happy and free. In a short space of time, I tried a variety of lessons including ballet, piano and belly dance. These lessons completely took me out of my comfort zone and represented things I’d always been interested in but too scared to try. I also started volunteering for causes that inspired me. By stretching myself, I realised I didn’t have to delay working towards my dreams. There were things I could do right away. I was inspired to travel the world, while still in my full time job. Over a 12 month period, I travelled to countries as far and wide as New Zealand, Antarctica and Kenya. It wasn’t easy and I had to make lots of sacrifices for this to be possible. However, travelling had such an expansive effect on me. I was able to discover so much about myself and gained lots of confidence, as well as creating priceless experiences and memories. All of this has meant taking risks that a few years ago would have felt too big but now feel exciting and well worth taking. It has also reinforced my long-standing belief, that we can each achieve anything we put our minds to.

For anyone feeling stuck and wanting more from life, there are things you can do to move forward. Make a commitment to try something new in the next seven days. It should take you out of your comfort zone, and be a little (or very) scary. Keep trying different things until you find something you love. When you find that something, do more of it. Identify why you love it and do other things that give you that same feeling or sensation. Stop waiting to have it all figured out. Take action now and you will immediately get closer to your dreams. 

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