You Don’t Have to be Shaken Up to Wake Up

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ~Andy Warhol

I’m in my late thirties now, but I remember getting my first car like it was yesterday.

Even though I would have loved a shiny new car, my dad had suggested I go for a reliable junk box instead. Since I had been known to take out a few mailboxes and was somewhat of a menace on the road, I begrudgingly agreed.

Dad had a friend who worked on cars, and I proudly purchased my first clunker for $1000.

The catalyst for wanting my own set of wheels was the dreaded bus ride to my job. Day after day, I would stand at that overcrowded city bus stop in the cold, waiting for the bus to arrive like it was the second coming of Christ.

Unfortunately, when it did come, the 7,000 other commuters and I would pile in like a pack of sardines. Was that handsome guy putting the moves on me, or were we just packed in too close? I guess I’ll never know.

The only upside to the overcrowded bus was that the body heat kept us all warm.

I’d stand there, hanging on for dear life, praying that a nice old lady or a woman with a baby carriage didn’t need to board. Don’t get me wrong—I love the elderly, and babies too, but those were the kind of situations that would delay my already late behind!

When I’d finally arrive at my destination, I’d file out with all the other happy campers, smooth my wrinkled skirt, and be on my way.

During that time, the commute was just the start to what I already knew would be horrible day. Not that anything bad or dramatic would happen at work; it was just the simple fact that I just didn’t want to be there. Just like I didn’t want to be on that crowded bus.

My office job certainly paid the bills, but it came with a hefty price. I was unhappy, like really unhappy. 

Sitting in my less than comfy chair, typing away on my keyboard, my body was there, but my spirit was somewhere else. It was like a daily out of body experience and I spent years living that way.

Eventually the unhappiness got to be too much, and I was more than willing to make the sacrifices I needed to make in order to escape. Translation: I left my very comfortable paying job, moved back in with my parents, and took a job at a local animal shelter.

And you know what? I was broke, but more importantly, I was happy.

Instead of having to endure those previous out of body experiences, I was now fully present. I loved that I had traded in my desk and computer for pooper scoopers and leashes.

My days now consisted of walking dogs and making sure that the cats in my care felt comfortable and safe. I didn’t have all the answers on what direction my life was heading in. But the wagging tails and licks on my face confirmed that I was on the right track.

Making the move from my spirit-draining job gave me time to contemplate what I wanted to do with my life. Eventually, I went on to open my own pet sitting business and it became a great success! In fact, I made much more money than I did at my office job.

When I look back now, I wonder why it took me so long to make a move. Why is it that when we find ourselves feeling unfulfilled, we just accept that this is just the way things are?

Why is it that we get so stuck in such a rut that we become zombie-like and don’t question things or contemplate a different way of living? A different way of making a living?

Unfortunately, it usually takes something negative to happen in our lives for us to look for a different solution.

Sometimes it comes in the form of a layoff from our job, the death of a loved one, (life is short, what the heck am I doing?), or a scary health diagnosis. Things like these tend to shake us up and wake us up.

The good news is that you don’t need your beloved Uncle Harry to die or your boss to fire you before you can make a change. I’m living proof of that. If you don’t like the way your life is going, decide to change it. Simple as that.

Sure, it might take some initial sacrifices, but just like my days riding the bus, those are only temporary.

You don’t need to know all the steps you need to take just yet; you just need to give yourself permission to contemplate something different. Ask yourself, what are the things that bring me joy?

That was my first step. I simply thought about what made me happy. The answer wasn’t too hard to find—it came in the form of my cat sitting on my lap. Purr

Once we declare that we want something better for ourselves, we get help in the ways we need. Ways we might not even see coming. The Universe is funny that way.

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was to be able to move back in with my parents during that time. Not everyone has that option, but your path to change doesn’t have to look like mine. In fact, it should be uniquely your own.

Most times it’s the little, everyday choices we make that end up having the greatest impact over time.

Maybe it starts with just taking a class or trying a new hobby. Or maybe your path to change involves letting something go—a bad habit, negative self-talk or the pressure to please others.

It’s these small choices and actions that end up leaving us a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. One action, one decision at a time will eventually get you to where you need to go. And the best part is that you don’t need your life to be shaken up before that can happen.

Take it from me, you don’t need the 7.0 earthquake to hit before you decide to head to safety. When you first feel the ground shake, that’s the time to make your move.

About Kelly Buchanan

Kelly Buchanan sold her pet sitting business of eight years and is now a life & entrepreneur coach, wife & mom and lover of all things considered a little woo-woo.  Her passion is helping people break free from spirit draining careers and build lives and businesses that they love.  You can find her on the web at

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  • I oscillate in and out of experiencing my day job as an “out of body experience” (which I love, by the way!). Some days I’m totally there and know what you’re talking about and other days my day job is actually pretty fun. But what I know for sure it’s that it was never going to be my forever-job and I’ve worked pretty hard to create as much enjoyment at my job as I can while I work on building a business and life I like better on the side.

    My addendum would be that you don’t need to wait until the earthquake hits, but you also don’t need to run at the first sign of trembling — what you do need to do is start making a plan for what comes next, and start working toward that plan as best you can.

    Then again, maybe I’ll feel differently once I’m fully on the other side…

  • purna

    Kudos Kelly. I am having this perpetual unhappiness these last months and I know that I will need to do something about it. It is depressing. I am happy that you are happy.

  • Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for commenting! I love what you said about creating as much enjoyment as you can. Even when I was unhappy at my office job, there was still always something I could be grateful for – even if it was something as simple as a co-worker cracking me up with a funny story!

  • Thanks for your comment Purna. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been unhappy. Is it because of your work situation? When you’re in the thick of it, I know it can be hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel sometimes. Those are the times that for me, getting quiet and checking in with my inner guidance helps me. I might not get the answer on which direction to go right away, but I always do get an answer.

  • lv2terp

    Inspiring message! Thank you for sharing your success story, beautiful! 🙂

  • stefany

    “Once we declare that we want something better for ourselves, we get help in the ways we need. Ways we might not even see coming. The Universe is funny that way”. Wow kelly this is just so powerful. I had this perpetual unhappiness back in 2014 when i had to deal with a very passive aggressive manipulative boss. I left the job and stayed jobless for a couple of months contemplating what it is that i truly love and what my purpose is in this life. It took a lot of time but now I have finally do what i love.

  • Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. xx

  • That’s fantastic Stefany! I’m so happy for you that you are now doing something you love. Isn’t it a great feeling to wake up every morning excited about going to work instead of dreading it? Congratulations!

  • karen knecht

    that was a beautiful and powerful message. you truly are an inspiration Miss Kelly.

  • Thanks so much Karen.

  • Thanks for sharing your perspective Joseph. I do agree that things usually seem to work out at the right time. And that was certainly the case for me. However I also think it’s important that people don’t ignore the little whispers from the Universe that it’s time to move on. There is a saying I’ve heard before (and I’m definitely paraphrasing here) They start with a whisper, then a tap on the head and then you get hit with a brick! (That’s what I mean by not having to get shaken up before you wake up). 🙂

  • Joseph Dabon

    Ms. Anne,

    Oh I am a believer in that small voice from within.

    Let me tell you a corny story. I am a club tennis player. In our club I can boast of having the best backhand. When other players ask me how I do it, my simple answer is – I listen to my inner voice. I do whatever it tells me to do.

    Have a nice day.

  • Sunil

    Hi Kelly, thanks for this, this is just so amazing you remind me of me sometime early this year I had a crazy job and eventually quit coz the stress just got out of hand and started getting me sick just because I kept overworking and not even feeding well because I was stressed. So I eventually quit and now I’m in the process of trying to find out what I love,its hard really but I promise I dobt miss the previous place.I just need to find what I need