Change can be very uncomfortable to make, and unless there’s something dramatic in our life that forces that change, we’re more than willing to stay where we are—sometimes at all costs. It’s comfortable and safe, so why leave?
But when staying were we are starts to negatively impact the people in our life, we need to look for signs or some reliable source that tells us what we need to change. Unfortunately, the outside resources—friends, family, experts, horoscopes—aren’t the most reliable. We need to have the trust and strength to look within ourselves for the real answers.
When I knew I was in the wrong place
I was sitting poolside at a hotel in Maui, enjoying the sun and watching one of my sons splashing in the pool. Out of habit, I grabbed my phone to check for activity and on it was an urgent message from my client. Something went wrong with the deal and she apologetically asked for my help.
This holiday we planned was much needed after a year of long hours and being pulled in all directions. This downtime was a time for me to recharge a fully depleted and exhausted soul, and spend quality time with my boys. A promise was made to be 100% present during our holiday, and now I couldn’t commit to that.
After reading that message, I immediately felt this pain shoot up my back. I was anxious and felt the tension in my neck. At that moment, I realized how much my work was affecting my health.
Dr. Henry Lodge, in the book Younger Next Year, says, “Chronic stress, whether physical or mental, tells your body that the environment has changed for the worse.” My body was telling me I needed to make a change, but all that time I wasn’t listening.
The impact this was making on others
After seeing the disappointed look in my boys’ eyes from telling them I had to work, I started to cry. How excited they were, before we left, to spend this time together and finally have mom all to themselves. Their drop in enthusiasm after receiving the news was devastating. Not only did I let my boys down, I let myself down. I broke this trust to keep the promise to myself and to my boys.
If we were back home I would make this work issue a priority. The boys would go back to doing their own thing and all would be fine. But I learned it wasn’t fine. Disappointment after disappointment took its toll. “The environment affects much of what we do, and yet we often fail to notice it’s profound impact.” Kerry Patterson, et al, in Influencer, The Power to Change Anything.
While on holidays, in this beautiful destination, they depended on me to make it enjoyable and memorable. That was the key—memorable. I no longer wanted them to look back at holidays where their mom was working instead of participating in the fun. It wasn’t guilt that I felt, it was a feeling of loss. Losing out on what’s important in not only my life, but their’s too.
I had to make a change.
“If you can find a more favourable environment, you can transform the situation from one where the odds are against you to one where they are in your favour.” James Clear, in Atomic Habits. And Maui provided the perfect environment to transform my life so that it worked in my favour.
The change I needed to make
The decision I made on that day, was to change careers to something that gave me more freedom and more time to spend on what’s important in my life. And for the rest of our stay in Maui I participated in making beautiful memories with my boys.
This choice to do what was right for me, had me make sacrifices that I had to be okay with. When I returned to work after our trip, I received news that the deal fell apart and I lost my client. Oddly, I felt relieved.
“When the environment is not threatening, when it’s time to relax, another set of chemicals are released, like serotonin. Serotonin blocks the release of adrenaline and cortisol. When we’re on high alert and stressed, we secrete a steady river of adrenaline and cortisol: our stress hormones.” Dr. Henry Lodge, in Younger Next Year.
By moving myself from a stress filled environment to a relaxing one, with those important in my life, I allowed myself to see what changes I needed to make.
We don’t have to take a trip to Maui to connect to what change needs to happen. But we do have to provide a space, every now and then, that’ll give us the comfort to explore and summon our inner wisdom.