Alarm goes off. I roll out of bed, but not without that sudden sinking feeling in the chest “Here we go again”. I can’t tell you much about getting to the office because I’m on autopilot. It’s the same every day. It’s so monotonous that I almost don’t know what bus number I take. It just happens, day in day out, and I always seem to make it to work so I don’t pay much attention. Breakfast barely touches the sides as I’m battling in a filthy communal kitchen, so I just get out of there as quickly as possible. I start eating mid-walk back to my desk, only to surprise myself that I’ve finished eating as I became so consumed with checking the emails that have come in since I put my phone down before going to sleep last night. Every time my inbox notifications rise, so too does my temperature, my heartbeat, my stress, my mental to-do list. I’m wired. But not with that useful, steady and powerful stream of electric energy. No, more like a defibrillator. Attacking in short sharp shocks, then lapsing into a flat line, before being brought back to life in an erratic, frantic beat trying to find equilibrium among the chaos.
It probably comes as no surprise by now but the 9 to 5 and me do not get along.
You might be reading and thinking, “but Kris, no one likes getting up for work!” Maybe so. But there is a difference between workplace angst, and staying in a job that doesn’t serve you for the wrong reasons. Do any of these sound familiar?
- I’m on a good salary and need the money
- I need the experience on my CV
- I need the job security
- I need to stay long enough to get benefits like maternity/paternity leave
- I’ve worked my way up this far, I can’t stop now!
- I should be further along in my career by now
I used every single one of these reasons to keep me where I was in my digital media career. But I was miserable. Every time I tried to quit and put my wellbeing first, one of these limiting beliefs would wrap even tighter around me. But there’s a secret. None of them actually matter. We as human beings have a great ability, inherent within us since the beginning of time = the ability to adapt. So adapt I did, and switched the office for a gym, projects for people, and became a fitness trainer and wellness coach.
So what did I choose by quitting my day job?
- A $60,000 yearly loss of income
- A 16 month black hole in my CV
- 18 months of overseas work not immediately recognised by Australian employers
- Unstable job security where my work is dependent on having clients on my books
- No long service employment history that will qualify me for maternity leave
- A leap off the corporate ladder from half way up
- A work schedule that sees me up at 5am
- Starting over as a student and the “newbie”
Why would anyone want to do that?
Good question! I fought against it for years. Continually jumping back on the hamster wheel and expecting a different result (the definition of insanity I believe). Staying subscribed to job alerts for roles I didn’t even want. Pouring hours into customizing my CV for job applications that I knew weren’t right for me - but still being disappointed if I didn’t get it! I’d talk myself into all the pros, and think “this time it will serve you Kris”, whilst ignoring the cons which were all the impacts on my physical and mental health. Not to mention the big one - I wasn’t doing something that I actually wanted to do.
We hear it so often - the most important thing about a career, is to be in a career you love. You’re rolling your eyes right? We’ve all heard it. And we’ve all brushed it off to the point where the phrase is white noise to our ears now.
But now that I am doing a job I adore? Holy cow, it was actually true all along! I am now living my own balance* on my own terms, whilst doing something that electrifies me every day.
*I do not believe in the phrase “work/life balance” as it suggests our life outside work is separate, and something that can be put on hold. We only have one life, work is just a component of it.
So HOW do you do it?
Replace the guilt and fear of jumping off the deep end, with the gifts of what you will find once you dive in.
A mindset shift of GUILT to GIFT.
I now see my early starts as a gift - to be up as the world wakes, helping set the tone for my clients entire day, and having the middle of the day to work on other things!
I see my changing work days as a gift - I no longer hate Mondays. They are just another day!
I see my pay cut as a gift - to realise that I have enough. And while changes needed to be made, the quality of my life with less money is so much richer than having miserable wealth.
I see my removal from the corporate ladder as a gift - a high powered career was never my priority, I was simply holding myself to what I thought I “should” do. Now I muse, play, and experiment with everything I “could” do since I’m released from an expected pathway.
I see my sporadic CV as a gift - it actually now reflects who I am as a person. A multi-passionate and deep thinker, an entrepreneur yet a highly valuable team asset, a helper and a teacher, a curious adventurer.
I see my fluctuating employment as a gift - I have the freedom to take time out, focus on a new project, travel. I have a variety of employment experience which = options that I can come back to at any point in time.
I see my career restart as a gift - I’ve learnt to be a student again and to release my perfectionism. It does not matter if I am not the best at something, and learning from others is a practice of human connection and belonging.
Lastly, taking a paycut and quitting my day job has given me the gift of better health. Reduced stress-related illness. A shift toward positive mental health. Experiences to help me better serve my clients, whose own wellbeing I hold so dear.
If you’re stuck at a career crossroads, paralysed by the fear of what you might lose - try changing your question to what might you gain?
Did this post resonate with you? Let me know your thoughts in a comment below!
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