The Adventure – Ending My Career
Once upon a time…
On September 30th, 2008, two hundred and forty-nine pilgrims were killed in a human stampede in India at a temple dedicated to Chamunda – the Goddess of War and epidemics of pestilent diseases, famines, and other disasters.
In ancient times, human sacrifices were made in honour of this fierce warrior goddess.
And on this day, two hours to the stroke of midnight, I turned off my computer and ended my life as I knew it.
Out with a whimper…not a bang.
This was the month I worked 17 hour days. The month where I took only one day off work to help friends move. This was the month where all ten seasons of The X-Files played in the background while I was busy working to end my career.
And on the last day of September, two hours to midnight, this project manager completed her program and turned off the computer.
I was numb inside.
Without a plan of action, I wondered what I was going to do next. Wondered where I was going to go. Wondered what was going to become of me.
And as weird as this may sound, I wondered what this workaholic would do when there was nothing left to do?
I couldn’t answer the question and I didn’t know if I wanted to.
“Well, this is it. My work is finally over after a decade. There is so much…that I don’t know how to express. I don’t even know what to think. Right now, I am simply wondering what I’ll do tomorrow…” (Journal Entry)
I spent 10 years of my life going to college and university where I received one diploma and two bachelors of science. And during the last three years of university, I worked full time as a consultant.
Both full time, that is.
Call me insane, please.
Some suggest my workaholic tendencies were a method to avoid life. To avoid relationships. To avoid…something or another. I like to think that I was just trying to do the best I could, trying to make my way in the world, to make something of myself.
I’ll admit, I sometimes wonder if I missed out on a lot. While everyone was out living their lives, I had my nose buried in the books, with a pen behind my ear, ready to write down things at a moments notice – or off traveling thousands of kilometres to remote locations in the northern wilds of British Columbia…by plane, by boat, by helicopter, by vehicle…whatever it took to reach my destination.
Maybe it was just a different type of living.
After I ended it all, the next few months swallowed up my time, giving me no pause for thought or reflection on what I was going to do with my life. A big part of me needed to heal, still from the life altering events that turned my life upside-down – the car accident, the deaths, the injuries, the end of my relationship, moving. And now to add on to all of this, me ending my career.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t plan where my feet were going to land. I didn’t plan things out to the nth degree. A part of me wanted to see what was going to happen next.
Where I would end up?
A part of me is still not sure who I am. I guess I could say that I’m still in process of redefining who I am as a person. Maybe it’ll take an entire lifetime to figure this out.
And I’m okay with that.
But there are things I do know about me.
I was the girl who went away for a week on vacation and didn’t return for two years. I was the girl who played with cars, not barbies. I was the girl who got lost in books. I was the girl who loved to meander about aimlessly for hours on end, lolly-gagging about, meeting strangers…left, right, forward and reverse. I was the girl who had her roommate chop off over 2 feet of hair because she woke up one day and discovered a stranger was staring back at her in the mirror. I was the girl who played in tree forts…and still would today if given the opportunity. I was the girl who left the love of her life, madly and passionately in love with him, so we could live different lives without compromising who we were and what we needed out of life.
I guess it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise that I’d be the girl who would walk away from life as I know it.
No…I guess not.
Safety in insecurity…
I guess you could say that a big part of me feels fear…mainly fear about what I’m going to be doing with my life when I grow up. Fear that I won’t make enough income to support myself and my two phat cats who most certainly eat more than I do. Fear that I won’t make a difference in the world.
Fear that I’m floundering about…
And, of course, there are the fears which are accentuated by those closest to me who do not understand what I am doing, suggesting that I am wasting my time, with my head stuck in the clouds. What doesn’t help is that I’ve already thought those thoughts…so they’re kind of preaching to the choir.
But what trumps all these so-called fears of mine is one single solitary fear that far outweighs them all. The fear of going back to my old life, the one with the 6-figured income, the one that SCREAMED security. I suspect this would be the equivalent to death as I know that a part of me will die inside. A big part, I suspect.
And because of my decision to live differently, I have nothing.
No security…na-da thing. And on paper, I am worthless…unless you count my endless certifications and diplomas and degrees as currency. I might be bad on paper, but in practice, I like to think I’m golden. 🙂
But really, does this change the essence or the intrinsic nature of who I really am as a person?
No…I’m still me.
I’m the one with the silly smile plastered across my face.
What do I want to do when I grow up?
‘They,’ the powers-that-be, that is, suggest the average person will change their jobs at least 3 times over the course of their life. I am beginning to suspect ‘they’ mean that the average person will get a new title, a promotion maybe…but still, in essence, in the same industry, same company.
But the thoughts that have crossed my mind are the same thoughts I had when I was a wee tot. I need to write and I need to be creative and I need to travel.
But, it’s changed slightly.
I’ve come to realize that I want to help people. I like helping people. I would like to make a difference in the world. And what does that look like?
I sometimes think I have an inkling of an idea…but, in essence, I honestly don’t know.
There are those who have always chosen to live differently…and I admire them for always being like that. But then there are those who woke up on the other side of the bed one day and said ‘This isn’t for me anymore” and changed everything.
I find myself watching one specific website with particular interest….nope, not Fabian Kruse’s ‘The Friendly Anarchist’ or Chris Guillebeau’s ‘The Art of Non-Conformity’…two men whose websites and books I absolutely love and adore…who have kept me company while changing my life over the last couple of years.
No….the website I am talking about is Man vs. Clock by Anthony Middleton.
The premise of this website is that he has set a time limit, one year to be precise, before he walks away from his current life, from everything that is safe and familiar to him – his family, his friends, his job….even his favourite restaurant.
He has an actual clock on his website counting down the time.
And it runs out sometime this November.
Is it no wonder that I find his website intriguing?
He is walking away from his current life so as to propel himself forward into the next chapter of his life. He is planning for his departure. And he is holding himself accountable to his readers by providing monthly financial statements and whatnot.
The thing that I admire about Anthony is that he is ‘deliberately’ choosing to live differently. He is choosing to break free of the status quo. It also brings to the table that British sense of humor and candor that is truly refreshing. I can’t help but laugh. But really, at the end of the day, when it comes down to it all, I want to see the range of emotions in his words as his countdown clock gets closer to the 0.00.00. I want to see how he copes with the sudden abrupt changes that will inevitably rock the very core of his foundations.
I want to watch and learn and see what he does…where he ends up.
Because who knows when my clock is going to run out…yet again?
I want to believe…
I want to believe that there is a purpose for me. That I will be okay. That I’m not making a mistake.That I will be able to help others. That I’ll have something figured out.
I want to believe that my sacrifice will make a difference in the world…so that I may help others.
I want to believe that someday he will walk into my life and make me realize why it never worked out with anyone else.
I want to believe that I’ll have a place I can call home, even if I’m not there most of the time.
I want to believe that, at the end of the day, this will all be worth it.
And I want to believe that this is my opportunity to change my life. To live a life worth living.
Even at my most darkest of hours, my hopes and dreams for my future have never wavered – I have always believed life will always get better, my never-ending faith.
I’m scared and I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing it my way. At least that I know. I’m living it the way that I need to live it…filled with wonder, love and laughter, and course-corrections.
My future is a siren song that calls out to me, wooing me, telling stories of endless possibilities…of what could be.
So when should you consider making a career change?
- It’s monday morning and you can’t wait for Friday afternoon to show up.
- When you dread going to bed each night because you know you have to eventually wake up and start the grind all over again.
- Well, if you don’t like your coworkers or employer, then maybe you should reconsider who you spend 1/3rd of your waking life with.
- Your job is boring, unchallenging, and destroying your creativity.
- You only stay at your job because you’re afraid if you leave it, you won’t be able to find another one.
- You discover that after shelling out $50K on a formal education – you hate your career – and feel stuck because of all the student loans you now have to pay off.
- You know that by the time you retire, you’ll feel like these years of your life are the worst.
Before you even think of quitting – what can you do?
Unless you have the financial support, I wouldn’t recommend quitting right this second. Being a planner, I like to first figure out what my options are. But there are some questions that I do think about:
- What did I say I wanted to do when I was growing up?
- Why am I in this job in the first place?
- What was it that changed – me or the job?
- Is this really the career I want to be in – or do I see yourself doing something totally different?
- What kind of people do I want to work with – if at all?
Some places to start:
I wasn’t sure where to begin so I read a lot and started seeing life and business coaches who were able to help me gain clarity on my life and what I wanted to do when I grew up. I also did some career testing tests to determine my strengths and weaknesses – and some potential solutions. I did a lot of different things, but found that getting coaching was key to where I am today….focused, driven, and on the path of adventure.
Now is the time for change.
Now is the time to choose to listen to yourself – not others. Now is the time for you. You only live once during this lifetime and I can’t imagine looking back on a life filled with decades of regret.
© Monthly Adventure, Patricia Taylor, September 2008