There are many considerations when leaving a corporate job to start a business. In 2018, I was at an important juncture in my career. I had been working 70 hours per week in a sales leadership role, while also building a coaching practice. This involved full weekends of training and exams, leading into work weeks full of stress, urgency, and a dwindling sense of purpose. I had already decided to take the leap to work on my coaching and consulting practice full time, but the lingering question was, “When?”.
Because I had been very transparent with my organization about my coaching goals, and because I had contributed significantly by setting up programs to incorporate coaching into our business, which ultimately improved our results, I was fortunate to have a lot of support from my leaders during my transition. Still, the grind of the daily business and growing awareness that I was off-course by not coaching full time, was taking an emotional toll and causing physical symptoms. I was living in a constant state of fight or flight, and was on the verge of burnout.
I finally determined that I had to quit my corporate job to pursue my passion full time by the end of 2018. This meant two more months of transitioning my business to others on my team, making sure customers and all stakeholders had what they needed to keep the business going strong. But there was one problem: My 2018 stock shares vested in early March of 2019. This meant I would have to stay in my current situation for another four months to receive the money.
It was clear that for my body, the answer was “No.” The stress I felt in my body would not even entertain the conversation about staying in this situation longer than planned. But my head and logic had a harder time letting go, and went into full problem-solving mode. As I explored the details and learned what the exact sum of money would be (we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars), it was clear that there was a simple choice to be made: stay in a situation that compromised my health, values, and integrity, or let go of the money and choose to invest in myself and my future.
I was physically trembling with anxiety over the decision when I headed to the ocean to get clear about this decision. By coincidence, I had a copy of Gary Zukav’s The Seat of the Soul with me. As I connected with my intuition and nature, I also felt more connected to the decision I would make. I was 90 percent sure I knew what I would do. When I stood up to leave, I flipped open the book to a random page and a paragraph caught my eye:
The effort that you apply to each decision to align yourself with your soul is rewarded many times. The part of yourself that reaches toward Light may not be the strongest part of you at the moment… but it is the part that the Universe backs.
This was all I needed to move forward and let go of the money with confidence, clarity, and authenticity. I knew at that point that my “Light” was not found in my investment portfolio, even though it did provide a very strong sense of security, comfort, and opportunity. And I also knew that the power available to me in this decision would come from making the unwavering choice to invest in myself and in my ability to start a business that was aligned with my purpose to inspire deeper connection among leaders and employees.
As a full time coach, I now see how letting go gave me power and confidence. And what was most important for me in this process was the language I used to reframe my options. Had I looked at this choice as simply “walking away from money,” or “letting go of my shares,” it would have seemed pretty clear to just run hard a little longer, compromising myself in the process, and giving my power away to something external. What the process of letting go helped me see was that pushing harder and powering through things was actually my comfort zone after 15 years of working in a fast-paced, competitive industry. But when I could label the discomfort and fear in letting go of the money, I was able to reframe it as a necessary part of my growth. In walking away from the shares, I was getting out of my comfort zone of prioritizing security and taking the risk to bet on myself and my business.
I consciously chose to put my investment behind my passions and capabilities as a coach so that I could align with my values and who I really am at this next phase of my career. And in that sense, the act of letting go turned out to be a far more valuable investment.
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