If I’m being honest, I knew several years ago that I was ready for a professional change. Even before kids. Before promotions. And before I really believed that I would ever actually take the leap.
I just knew that something was missing.
On paper, I had everything I had worked so hard for – the career, the compensation, the influence, the perks, and even the telecommuting arrangement. But it still wasn’t enough. When would it ever be enough? When would I finally feel fulfilled?
I like to think that fate finally stepped in, frustrated with my reluctance to make the decision that I needed to. Funny how a a few months checked out of life, in bed, will provide clarity and direction. But that’s another post.
So three weeks ago, I finally took the leap. Gave my resignation. With no concrete backup plan. No other job offer. No next step. Just a vague idea that I wanted to learn more, grow more, and write more. And now – only three weeks in – I’ve already learned lessons that I never would have anticipated.
My job didn’t define me
I always had a sneaking suspicion that this was the case. It seemed ludicrous, that a paid profession could define a person’s whole being. I had traveled extensively, and knew that this wasn’t the case in other parts of the world. That not every person in every country asks “So what do you do?” as a first or second getting-to-know-you question. But – here it is different. I was praised for my job. I received accolades and respect for my job. When I explained what I did for a living, I was given almost immediate credibility. But now that job is gone. And I am still me. A more authentic version of me. Forging down the path that feels right. And I think that makes for a better definition than a VP title.
I am not starving
Fear has always been one of the major reasons I have procrastinated this decision. Fear of never working again. Fear of regretting my decision. But most of all, fear of becoming broke and homeless. I ran the financial figures over and over again. It seemed like we could do it. But I wasn’t sure. What if I resigned and then-there-was-an-emergency-and-we-used-up-all-our-savings-and-then-had-no-more-money-and-then-had-to-file-bankruptcy-and-eventually-ended-up-homeless. It could happen. But, now, I realize we would figure it out. The fear is no longer all-encompassing. I am still eating. My children are still eating. We are still doing fun things. And the lifestyle changes so far have simply meant making more conscious money decisions. Understanding the difference between wants and needs.
There is life outside of Corporate America
Really, there is. I had wondered what I would do with all my time. Now, in three short weeks, I am wondering how to more effectively focus my efforts as I am beginning to spread myself too thin. There is an abundance of freelance, project, and contract work available. More than I ever realized existed. And people make a living combining many income sources – which means that I can too! Imagine that. People working effectively without bosses, without company-imposed deadlines, and without performance reviews. Simply out of self-motivation and love for the craft. It is truly liberating.
Not everyone is supportive
I suppose I didn’t expect everyone to be. But the range of reactions I’ve received is astounding. I’ve had people congratulate me, motivate me, and even provide me leads. I’ve had others sit me down to talk with me and ensure I have considered all the risks and potential outcomes (which I truly appreciate). And I’ve had others make fun of me, make comments about me becoming a kept woman, and remark on me becoming lazy and having “nothing to do” all day. I’ve even had people, former colleagues, subtly dissociate themselves from me, as if I’ve become a pariah for leaving The Firm. And while I understand that the decision I’ve made is not common nor popular, I’ve been surprised at how vocal people have been with their opinions. It has opened my eyes and helped me realize who I should be surrounding myself with to help keep me inspired, positive, and growing.
I have no regrets
I fully expected to experience a freak-out or panic attack at some point after resigning. It was bound to happen after I simply walked away from my 20+ year career. In fact, I planned on it, jotting words and phrases of positive inspiration into my journal for when the jitters hit. But – so far – nothing. No anxiety, no panic, and no angst. In fact, all I’ve felt so far is calm. Calm and peace with my decision. Confidence that I am doing the right thing at this phase of my life. Pride that I was finally strong enough to follow my heart. And excitement about all the doors opening and the options available to me. If there is any regret, it is that I didn’t have the courage to take the leap sooner.
If these are the life learnings after only three weeks, I look forward to the additional insight I have yet to experience over the long haul. It’s not all roses, and it’s not easy. But I finally feel capable of handling whatever comes my way. And embracing the ride.