A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend who is considering a career change. It seems to be a common topic these days as I have become the ‘go to person’ for these conversations after packing it all up and opting for a life abroad. As we made the changes in our own life, I was asked to write a piece about why people leave their positions and how to redefine life at any age. While I am certainly no expert, I leaned on my own experience when I wrote the piece and again when my friend asked about taking that first step towards a major change.
I remember so clearly – the weeks, days, and even hours before handing in my resignation. I had thought about what that moment would look like previously, but it was usually after a rough day and the feeling came and went rather quickly. But when it was real, it was terrifying. Sleepless nights of tossing and turning. What would I say? When would I do it? At some point in the process, I had to throw my hands up in the air and simply trust – jumping head first into the unknown.
The first step towards anything new is always the most difficult. It brings up fear and insecurity and sometimes those two things alone will stop us from taking that leap of faith. And when it comes to our careers, we often choose comfort because it is familiar.
I would be lying if I said I never miss it. I do. Some days more than others. Last week, as friends and former colleagues texted with news of a record-breaking book release with over 750,000 copies sold on day one, was one of those days. There was just something about those moments that I used to relish in and celebrate, even if it wasn’t my team working on a particular project, seeing colleagues and friends do something incredible was so satisfying. The rush of releasing a bestseller, landing a major acquisition, or booking a network package. The excitement of those things and the feelings they bring up are still a part of who I am and what I do, and even though the scenery changed, will always be. The hustle of the city, the anticipation of a big release, the thrill of success – they are etched into every fiber of my being and are now the driving force behind the life we are building from here.
Redefining your life doesn’t mean running away or ignoring who you were meant to be. It means finding the best parts of the experiences you have had and using them to define what you want. And the beauty of doing so is that it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you.
I remember years ago, I had a friend who was dealing with difficult circumstances at work and a boss that would call her at all hours of the night, barking orders. On one occasion, she found herself up for most of the evening, taking time away from her family to do work that could have easily been done the next day.
The entire situation left her frustrated and depleted.
We have all had moments of emergencies at our jobs – burning the candle at both ends to meet a deadline, a client getting bumped from a major segment because of breaking news – whatever the case, there will always be the occasional fire to put out. But in the case of my friend, someone simply demanding an answer to make themselves feel better was not one of those times.
That night was a defining moment for her. She left her position several months later which set in motion a completely different trajectory for her life and career. And while there were those who questioned her decision and wondered what she was doing, their reactions were more about their own inability to understand than her doing what was right for her life.
She was empowered to change. And while it took navigating through a difficult evening to push her closer to her own leap of faith, she eventually got there. She broke free from feeling stuck.
I am certain we have all experienced those same feelings at some point, we simply can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. And that is okay. It is there, in the moments of not being able to see a clear path out of our circumstances, that we are pushed to look a little harder for a new route to reach the end of the tunnel.
We only fail when we stop trying.
Whatever change you may be considering – your career, renegotiating the terms of a work contract to allow more flexibility in your life, moving halfway across the world, whether you take a leap or a gradual dip – it doesn’t matter as long as it points you in the right direction and keeps you moving forward.
Surround yourself with things, people, and places that bring you closer to your goals. And let go of anything that doesn’t. The people who are meant to walk through life with you will understand and support you.
Whether it is a bad boss, a troubled friendship, a struggling relationship – those things don’t dictate your life. You do. So ask yourself, “What do I need to do to create the life I want?” Is it a leap or is it a dip? Only you can decide.
Life is short. Make it your own and make it count!
Cheers to a new week.