“Instead of wondering when our next vacation is we should set up a life we don’t need to escape from.” ~Seth Godin
I was a senior human resources professional at the biggest company in New Zealand. I had a great team of people, a flash company car, and got to stay at the posh hotels and dine at the nicest restaurants.
I was paid more than I thought I’d ever earn, I had a house overlooking the beach, and got to vacation at some fantastic destinations. My life had all the hallmarks of success from the outside, but inside there was a hole in my soul.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school (or even a decade after), but I was taught what success looked like—a high salary, job security, a fancy title, and the higher up the ladder you went, the better. But my experience didn’t really fit this model.
I’d had a feeling for some time that the corporate world wasn’t for me.
In the morning I struggled to put on my work shoes and dress for the office, preferring to be bare foot on the beach in my shorts.
I hated being stuck inside. Some days I’d never get to go outside my office. It just didn’t seem like me, but it paid well and every time I got promoted people would tell me how great it was.
Eventually I had enough of climbing the ladder, pretending to be important, checking emails at 10pm, attending back-to-back meetings, commuting in city traffic jams, and sitting for hours in front of a computer screen, my phone constantly going.
I would sit in meetings talking about strategies and adding value while looking outside, daydreaming of where I’d rather be.
I was exhausted, unhappy, and I kept getting sick. It wasn’t so much the stressful job that tired me; the really exhausting part was pretending to be something I wasn’t, committing to things that didn’t matter to me, and selling out on my values and purpose.
The further I climbed, the more I earned, and the more successful people told me I was, the unhappier I became. I had a full bank account but an empty soul. I thought there must be more to life than that.
When I told people I did not find my job fulfilling, they looked at me like I had two heads.
“Why would you expect it to be? It pays the bills; that’s its purpose. There isn’t anymore.”
For a moment I thought maybe I wasn’t being grateful. I was lost in the cycle of wanting more; perhaps I was looking for greener grass? There was only one way to find out, so I took the leap, quit my job, and walked away.
Many people thought I was brave for making the decision to leave such a good job without any qualification to do anything else and no other job to go to. Many more thought I was crazy.
But I’m not the only one. Lots of people are now choosing to put their health and quality of life before work and seeking balance. We are beginning to wake up to the fact that it’s important to live our values and spend our days doing things that matter to us.
Of course, you don’t always have to quit your job to achieve this. There are those who are happy in their work and love what they do, and if that’s you, I salute you.
For those yet to find that, don’t panic. Think about what you’re good at, what makes you tick, and what you enjoy the most and begin to bring those changes into your life.
We can all feel trapped in our day jobs, whether it be for the perks, the status, the career progression, or just the need to pay the bills. These are all forms of security, and it’s one of the reasons we spend so long in jobs we can’t bear.
There is a natural fear of the unknown, a new job, having to retrain, the need to pay the bills.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Whether it’s updating your resume, meeting with recruitment agents, looking at home study courses, budgeting your finances, or sitting down and setting some goals, the key is to make a start.
Taking a risk into the unknown is scary but also liberating. We are motivated and excited by change, but at the same time it can send us running back to the things we know. It’s all too easy to find excuses to put off making a change and stay where it feels safe.
We perceive security in our pay checks and the things familiar to us, even if they don’t make us happy, but as Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”
I did this for years. Every time I was forced into a change of job I would tell people, “I might try something different this time and do something I really enjoy,” but the call of the familiar pulled me back to the corporate world (not to mention the money I needed to pay the rent and the fact that I wasn’t qualified to do anything else).
I used to spend my days looking forward to long weekends and vacations. Now I have a life I feel I don’t need to vacate from.
When I left the corporate world I spent my new found freedom learning to be a yoga teacher, living in Ashrams, and undertaking meditation retreats. I can now put that knowledge and my passion into what I do every day.
I feel like I help and inspire people, although it’s not all butterflies and rainbows; I earn less, have to get up earlier, and sometimes I don’t know when or where the next job is coming from. But my work is part of my life now rather than an inconvenient interruption to it.
It keeps me fit and healthy, I get to travel and meet like minded people, and for the first time I feel there’s a purpose and reason to what I do, and it’s a wholesome one.
I firmly believe in the mantra “Do what you love and love what you do and you will be successful.” I always wanted a job you could turn up for in yoga pants and a hoodie and the best of all, you don’t have to wear shoes!
Happy man image via Shutterstock