Your Job Doesn’t Define You

Who are you

“I've learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’” ~Maya Angelou

When I started working toward a life of freedom a year ago and dared to set my sights on my dreams, I never imagined I’d be where I am today.

However, if you took a snap shot of my life three years ago, you’d have seen a different person. I was a career woman, a high flyer, rising quickly from an office manager to the head of human resources for a fast growing, successful business, going from strength to strength.

I was living the dream, earning more than enough money to make sure I could buy whatever, and I’d finally become a success at long last!

Yet today, the story is the complete opposite. I am a cleaner. I work part-time seven days a week, cleaning and clearing up after other people. I work for minimum wage and I work physically hard every single day.

Who I Thought I Was

I thought I couldn’t get a better job, a better position in life, or a better chance to show the world that I had finally made it. I was earning substantial amounts of money, getting to travel the world, and buying whatever I wanted.

I thought that if I could just make it somehow, and prove it to everyone because I was working in London fifty hours a week, that I’d get the respect I’d always deserved. I was completely and utterly defined by my career. Without the job, the status, and money I’d be nothing a nobody, and who wants to be that?

So, what happened?

I quit. One day I just decided that it wasn’t for me. It was too stressful; it was life-numbing work, killing me from the inside out. I knew I no longer wanted to work for someone else’s dreams. I was tired of working hard, on the verge of becoming mentally unstable and feeling utterly miserable.

I realized that what I did as a job wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was the fact that I was happy, that my purpose went a lot deeper than sitting behind a desk, with my head in my hands wondering what the hell I was doing and why.

The Journey Began

Once I’d started on this journey, I knew there was no going back because I’d never be satisfied. So I began searching for what really made me happy, what I loved to do, and how I could use that to serve the world.

I wanted to contribute, to make a difference, and inspire others to do the same. It was like a light had finally been switched on in my brain. I realized that life was what I made it and I didn’t have to do what everyone else was doing. I could try something new, step out of the ordinary, and live an extraordinary life.

The thing was, however, I had no money. When I’d quit my job, I’d mounted up a lot of debt. My credit cards were maxed out, and the money I did have I had to use for bills, rental payments, and to pay off those debts.

I became very scared and anxious, as I wanted to follow my dreams and search for what mattered; yet, I still needed to live. I wasn’t about to go backward, so I had to admit defeat; I had to get a job, a menial one, something that required little attention or time that would still paid the bills.

So I became a cleaner.

I won’t lie to you; it wasn’t easy. For so long I’d been a high flyer. I was proud of being known as a success and loved being able to afford anything I wanted. Then here I was, a failure, the type of person I felt sorry for and could never imagine being.

I had become someone I never wanted to be. I was embarrassed to admit it to people, but at the same time I knew I had to do it. Financially, it took the pressure off. It also gave me the freedom to do what I loved during the day, and most of all, it allowed me to rediscover my dreams and work toward them.

Your Work Doesn’t Have to Define You

It took me a long time to realize that my work didn’t have to define me. All that mattered was that I could pay my bills, which was the only reason for doing this. The fact that everyone else saw me as just a cleaner didn’t mean a thing; they could think what they wanted.

I was the only one who knew the truth. I didn’t have to justify myself to anyone anymore.

It was so liberating.

Of course, there are down sides. I have days where I get so exasperated, so frustrated that I have to do this job. I get a little down and disheartened, but each time those doubts pop into my head I instantly turn them into something positive.

So how can you deal with these down times when you’re doing something that isn’t your dream?

Realize it serves a purpose.

Remind yourself why you are here, why you are doing this job, and what you are getting out of it. Remember there is a reason for it, and that reason is to pay the bills, the rent, or buy food, and that’s it.

It’s not that you are a cleaner, or a garbage collector, or whatever you decide to do while you work on your dreams. You are a planner, an achiever, and you are courageous enough to do what has to be done to make sure your dreams happen.

Be grateful.

Seriously, this is the most important thing you can do. When I get down I remember that I am so lucky and grateful for the fact that I can do a job, get paid for it, and still work on my dreams.

If I had a nine-to-five job, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today because I’d be too tired. I’d be too comfortable with the money, the work, and the easiness of it all, so I’d probably stay stuck.

Sometimes it’s good to be doing this kind of work, as there’s something you really want to get out of. It will motivate you so much more in that way. So always be grateful for having this opportunity.

Keep cheerful.

Whenever I go into work, I see all the office staff looking down and depressed. I remember what it felt like to be stuck behind a desk all day doing work that did little for me. So I make sure I am cheerful.

I spread a little bit of light around me because I feel so lucky to have gotten out of the rat race. If I can make other people see that cleaning isn’t who I am, it’s what I make of it that matters, then perhaps I can inspire others to do the same.

I hope these will inspire you and keep you on the journey toward your dreams and purpose in life. It’s so important not to let what you do affect who you are. Some people will only see you for what you do, but those people don’t know what you know.

Always feel blessed and honored to be able to follow your heart and have the courage to go after what makes you happy.

If you are like me, you are very lucky indeed—and if you want to follow your dreams, begin today before it’s too late!

Photo by Xiaojun Deng

About Paula Lawes

Paula Lawes, a blogger, writer and regular ‘Pollyanna'. Her love is to share all, good and bad. You can find her writing daily at The Daily  dedicated to daily inspiring, thought provoking and growth motivating articles.

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  • Yaritza

    Paula, I am reading your post 3:15 am because I couldn’t sleep and your post couldn’t have come at a better time. I couldn’t sleep exactly because I felt the way you felt at your old job. I graduated high school two years ago and I didn’t continue on to college because I had no clue what I wanted to with my life. Yes, I have dreams. Big ones. I love creating, designing, music and the arts. But every time I told someone about them, they wouldn’t take me seriously. So from then on, every time someone asked me I would just respond that I wanted to do business or a medical career. And I did just that. I convinced myself that that was what I wanted. I wanted to be accepted, respected and admired so much that I pursued a career in banking. Now that I have the dream job, I am miserable. I constantly asked myself why. Why? It’s what I wanted, right? Why I am not happy? Why do I feel empty inside? Reading your post has come as a sign, a calling, a ray of light. I feel like today’s society conditions you to pursue a realistic “normal” career path rather than encourage and empower you to follow your dreams no matter how crazy they may sound! Now at this point in life I am realizing that the key to following your dream life comes when you are five or six years old when everyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up. I remembered I always answered like a million different crazy things. But I always said the things that I thought would make me happy. Sorry for the long post, I just feel I am on the brink on a new journey. Good luck with your dreams Paula I know you’ll get there. All the best and thanks for sharing.

  • Michaela Cristallo

    Wonderful to see your story here Paula! So many people let their jobs define them and pursue careers just because it looks good on the outside. You are doing something special because you are following your own dreams – you are doing what feels good on the inside and shining your light bright! And good on you for seeing your job for what it is – a means to a much bigger end. Very inspirational!

  • Julia

    Thank you. I have a similar story, except I left banking to be a full-time homeschool mom. My work at home is challenging but meaningful. Yet, our society still makes us feel low for not being a rat in the race. Thank you for the eloquent words. They mean so much.

  • Yaritza, firstly please do not apologise. What you have written tells your story and it’s important to talk about it. I am so glad you woke up and saw my post. This is a sign and it’s your queue to make your mark in the world. You are here for a purpose and that purpose is to be you. You are unique, you are special and don’t let anyone tell you differently. I’ve been exactly where you have been for too long and it make me very unhappy. There is no point trying to fit it because you never will. Live your life for you and no one else, as long as you don’t hurt anyone you can do what the h*** you like! Please do let me know how you get on and I’d love to help you in some way to help you get to where you want to be. Join my website or message me at i’d love to help if I can. Just make a promise to yourself right now that you will listen to your heart no matter what. OK? lots of love Paula x

  • Hey Michaela! Finally eh?!! Thanks so much. If it wasn’t for your friendship I’d not be here. It’s a journey we are all on and bit by bit we will get there. Thank you Michaela 🙂

  • Julia, you are so very welcome. I think it needs to be told. Too many of us are stuck in our own prisons and it’s time to rebel! You as well as all of us have special gift and if you don’t share it, well that’s selfish!! haha Glad you have meaningful work Julie, that’s whats important to you and well done for just going for it! You are amazing and a true example. Thank you 🙂

  • Emmanuelle

    Thank you so much for this article. I am interning in finance right now and as my internship is coming to an end in 6 months, I am trying to figure out what to do with my life. I know for certain that I do not want to be sitting at a desk everyday from 8 to 5. Your article is so inspiring and my only wish is to be able to pursue my dreams and do something that will make me happy. Thank you again.

  • Emmanuelle, firstly I am glad for your comment and even more glad that this resonates with you. The first step is knowing that you want more for yourself, the next step is finding out what you LOVE. Follow your heart, that’s all I will say because it will guide you…. take care and I hope to hear from you again as I’d love to know what you decide 🙂

  • Yaritza

    Thank you Paula for your kind words. They mean a lot. And yes I did make myself a promise. I wrote it down posted it on my wall to be reminded everyday. And yes I’ll be sure to follow you on your website and let you know how it’s going and let you know if there’s anything that comes up. Thank you 😉

  • Great! Use that to remind you, to set your intentions and never give up. Please do, I’d love to know. In the meantime may I wish you all the success in the world. Paula x

  • Wow, what a wonderful comment Halina. Yes I totally get the importance of feeling good at the job you do and that it’s meaningful. Contribution is at the very top of that list too definitely. I love how you feel about what you do and that you can take it with patience and faith. You have a wonderful approach and I love that. Thank you for sharing, I’ve learnt a lot from your words and I thank you for doing what YOU do too. 🙂

  • If only I lived in the US they sound an awesome company!

  • Shelby Quinn

    This article was such a gift. Thank you! I am about to quit my 9 to 5 to pursue my passions. This means probably taking a lesser paying job on a part-time basis. I’ve had some preemptive feelings of embarrassment due to how others might judge me going from a well-paying desk job to working at a co-op (or something of that nature), but I don’t care anymore. I have to follow my dreams and I need to have the time in my week to do that.

    “It’s none of my business what others think of me.” – A Wise Soul

  • So many people try to create a life around their career. That’s why I’ve created my entire business around doing the exact opposite of that! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Androojp

    A real luxury to be able to choose to earn that little. Most do stressful jobs simply because the high cost of living leaves no choice.

  • I am in this situation, having quit a well paying job to pursue my passion in the arts. It’s difficult right now, but am finding my way. Reading your article lifted my spirits. Thank you!

  • Little dreams

    I just want to say THANK YOU with tears in my eyes…

  • Pauline

    Thank you so much for this post…This nailed exactly what I am going through. Living in Los Angeles makes it harder, people judge you on what you do and how much money you make here. I went from working in Television, to then Tech Start up, and now a non-profit. All of which were either exhausting, unfulfilling or just plain boring. It’s a security blanket, the benefits, the guaranteed salary, but I am so beyond tired of working 8 hours a day to make someone richer. I’m 27 and have no idea what I want to do with my future, but I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with that. I’m thinking of quitting my boring non-profit job and becoming a Lyft or Uber driver, which will give me time to figure out what it is I want to do, and perhaps travel. Although yes, the money security will be gone- It will give me more time to heal from a recently broken relationship, and the never-ending depression of my job. Thank you for this. I’m bookmarking 🙂

  • Well done to you Shelby! You know what? Those nay-sayers wish they were in YOUR position. They want to be as courageous as you but they can’t , so they’d rather put you down. Rise above it and keep your head held high. Follow your dreams and do what other’s won’t do. Then you WILL succeed! Let me know how you get on! 🙂

  • Pauline! Fantastic! See what happens when you follow your heart? You get what you want… you have beyond brave and you know what? You’ll be laughing in the end. Just trust in the process and keep going… please please let me know how you get on! email me it’s on my website! 🙂

  • Hey there. Bless your heart. THANK YOU for reading and for being brave in commenting….hope it gets you to where you want to be – even if it’s just the start – its the start 🙂

  • Great Krista! Keep it somewhere if it helps. Follow that heart of yours and never give up. Well done for quitting! Just keep moving, no matter how small the steps – don’t look back 🙂 let me know how you get on 🙂

  • With that ‘choice’ I moved in with my mother, have very little to my name and hardly go out. My dreams are that important. It’s a choice between doing what you want with your life or doing what others want. Material possessions aren’t important to me anymore which is why I just about manage to pay my rent and bills. It’s a sacrifice – sadly not many people will give up the things they ‘think’ they want for what they really want within their heart. i.e freedom and purpose

  • I kept waiting to read what your passion is that you’re now following while you’re working the cleaning job. I would like to hear about it.

  • Absolutely! You have it spot on Mallie! Well done to you, would love to know more about what you do! Thank your for commenting appreciate it so much 🙂

  • Bless you! yeah I should have said shouldn’t I? Well spotted! It’s this, it’s writing for my blog and helping others to grow, to learn and to inspire them to do more with their lives.. Check out my blog and you’ll see what my passion is right away! But thank you for that – so glad you were ‘waiting’ for the next part! Perhaps I need to do a ‘part two?’ !! 🙂

  • Hey Jules. That is awesome! Wow I’ll have a look at that soon. You are inspiring! Yes it takes a while sometimes for some and for other’s it’s a no brainer but whatever way we go it’s our journey and ours alone. Brilliant to hear from you Jules 🙂

  • Karin

    This article could not come at a better time! I’ve felt anxious for quite some time now, going from one dead end job to the next (so it seems – because I can never stay due to economic reasons).. It’s not that I don’t like my job as a secretary, I’m also good at it, but it doesn’t fulfill me. Deep down I wish I could help people somehow. But I don’t have diplomas (well, one, as a social worker) and I’m actually just too insecure.. But I feel more and more resistance doing the jobs I do, having to apply for new jobs every time with a longer and longer resume and social services breathing down my neck! I keep feeling there must be more to life then this.. Maybe I could start small, doing a blog.. That’s what I thought, and then I saw this article! It literally made me cry. I need to awaken and stop spending my days working, watching TV, feeling too tired to do anything else or spend time with friends, let alone think or feel what it is my heart has to say. I already know what I will regret at the end of my life and I’m not even 40 yet..(24 Sep is the big day). I’m afraid I’ll regret it if I don’t do something now. But why am I so afraid to end up with no money at all.. feeling I should just join the rat race, so I can save up and actually live, very mindful, during those rare moments – all tanned and super relaxed on some luxurious island…? Your article has touched me, and inspired me for more, thank you!!

  • Karin! I am 40 next year. Please do not think that being older and not knowing what you want to do is a bad thing. The fact that you are at this point is wonderful! Most people don’t even get to this point so applaud yourself right not! With regard to what you want to do. Well I started with a blog, i just wanted to get my feelings out there and be heard For so long I felt silenced by my jobs, my boss and by myself. This is YOUR time. Get yourself started, just make a start and you will feel better. Glad I have helped but do check out my website there’ sloads more articles on this subject and so much more – come join me in my fb group too – would love to have you there so I can see what you are up to! It’s so exciting for you. Today is the day to begin my friend! 🙂

  • Colette

    Paula, thank you so much for this wonderful post. I needed to be reminded of why I do what I do. I opted out of the management rat race when my husband died, and I had a 15 month old to raise by myself. Now that my son is grown, and out on his own, I have chosen to stay as a “worker bee” at an assisted living facility.

    Last night I was feeling a little discouraged, as I was listening to a resident’s family member having a discussion with a nurse about her schooling and fabulous future traveling she could have.

    I was sweeping and mopping the dining room I work in, and had the thought what would he think if he knew I have a BBA, would I have to explain all over again why I am satisfied being a server, and that it was a life choice based on circumstances.

    I am happy working rather unconventional hours, make the mortgage payment and pay the bills and truly owe no one an explanation.

    Thank you for making me remember and be grateful for this life.

  • Karin

    Thank you for your reply! I already signed up for the newsletter etc. on your website and am following you on facebook. I’ll look up your fb group as well.

  • yey! I get to see you on your journey! that’s awesome 🙂

  • Now THAT needs to be taught at school! Brilliant stuff 🙂

  • FANTASTIC! No one elses opinion matters, as long as YOU are happy. I’m not a big fan of qualifications to be honest with you (although some careers need them of course i.e doctors etc). It’s great to here how grateful you are, you see that’s the first step to anything in life. So many people don’t have a job or even any money, we are lucky so be grateful for that. I am grateful for your comment, it’s made me smile. All the best to you Colette and keep that chin up 🙂

  • Talya Price

    I can’t believe you worked 50 hours a week in London. Wow! That is one of the reasons why I quit the corporate world. I wanted my life back and I was tired of making someone else rich. Now I am freelance, actress and artist, and I could not be happier. I sometimes wish the world could be different. I wish that humans didn’t have to pay to live. Thank you for sharing your story. It resonated with me.

  • Yes and more! yeah it’s pretty unforgiving but I am glad I did it, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didnt. Wow you’ve totally gone for it haven’t you. Wow! Yes, if we all were taught at school that to be happy comes first and that means with ourselves, our lives and with each other the world would surely be a better and well loved place. Thank you for sharing glad it resonated with you 🙂

  • Jenn

    I agree with what you’re saying to a point. I too work behind a desk in the accounting world, there are days I work long hours and a typical work week is probably just over 40 hours a week. Sometimes I find it dull and sometimes I don’t. But work does not define me. It doesn’t bother me because I am able to realize that my job serves a purpose, I am grateful that I do something I find fairly interesting and I can keep cheerful because I am able to do the things I truly love after work (i.e. spend time with family/friends, yoga, etc.). I enjoy my work because it allows me to do things that I love AFTERwards. Do you really think that you could never find this in an HR job? Your post has great meaning, but I find your experience a little contradictory. Or perhaps I’m just not understanding. Brene Brown discusses this topic and expresses our life as slashes. I am not JUST an accounting specialist, I am an accounting specialist/yogi/girlfriend/runner/daughter. It is the slashes that matter as they provide the full picture, no?

  • I am really glad you are happy with the way you want to live and work, that’s so cool. Personally I want to get up in the morning and love my work, feel like I am contributing and give something back. I never really felt that working for someone else. We all love our lives in different ways and no one way is right or wrong. We choose our own journeys and paths. What makes you happy may not make me happy and vise versa. I can’t not do what I do now, I write, I am creative and I watch other’s follow their dreams and do what they want. I never felt free working for someone else and making money for them. I hope that makes it a little clearer but happy to talk me if you want to email me 🙂

  • Hey! Great stuff! It’s amazing when you put an article like this out there how many people either want to do it or can relate (and are already doing it). Its so great to hear! Yep keep that miserable face in your mind and you just know in your heart that it doesn’t feel right…. thank you and I’ll definitely take a look at your blog. Thank you for sharing Caylee 🙂

  • Alice Dias

    Wowww….so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story with us and for remind me that it’s always possible to change and to choose the way we want to take to our lives!! Sometimes we get so involved in what the society expect from us that we forget what really matter for us, which is the most important thing. Thank you!!

  • Darci Lambert

    I wish it were as easy as you made it sound. I was let go from the rat race over 4 years ago and still struggle with it. I was let go from a bank and given no reason for it. Since then I’ve struggled with inadequacy and still feel like it was my fault somehow- even though I am quite convinced it had to do with cutting expenses in a tight economy. I am in a fortunate situation in that I don’t have to work because my husband makes enough money for the both of us but I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know how to do what makes me happy because I’m too sad about not having a job that makes me someone to be proud of, if that makes any sense. I am in an ideal position and many dream of having the opportunity in front of them that I do but somehow I can’t push through and find, or do, what should make me happy. I guess I just don’t know how to break away from who I WAS to who I want to be…

  • Thank you for your lovely message, life is to short to be defined and its fantastic to read other people are in a similar tidal flow, happy adventuring on your journey. Looking forward to reading more of your writing ☀☀☀

  • Sam

    While this is a wonderful idea and something that would be incredible to do with my life, I am unable to just walk away from it all mainly because I am the source of income for my wife and daughter. I notice quite a few comments on here talk of how they are able to get out of the “office rat race,” too, because they have husbands to provide for them and allow them to do what they feel is meaningful. I also note you are single and living at home with your mother. Unfortunately, as much as I absolutely love working 70 hours per week between my full-time and my part-time jobs, I can’t stop working to do things I would enjoy.

  • Jenn N.

    Paula –

    Thank you for this story, it was precisely what I needed today. There are many people that do not understand my burning desire to break away from the 9-5 because its easy, secure, and gives a great pay check. I feel such guilt to talk to my friends about my unhappiness because they believe I should be happy just to have a job. I don’t want a J.O.B anymore, I want to do something that compliments and enriches my life as well as others! I hope very soon I will be writing a story similar to yours, but in the mean time, I am going to print out your story and read it when I need strength!


  • L

    Wow. This article could not have come at a more accurate moment.

    I recently quit my job (my first job ever) because it was not what I felt like seeing myself do in life. I made the decision to quit and with it I left a pretty good salary and the constant company of friends. My dream job is to be a graphic designer but it is a bit hard to get into that kind of job where I’m from and I know the pay is not going to be quite the same.. I’m currently working for my family and earn a little money on the side, but sometimes I feel like I am going to be stuck here and missing out on so much.

    A few minutes ago I was really having one of those bad moments. Then I saw this link on my feed.. Reading it really hit close to home, I had tears in my eyes. Maybe I’m just feeling lonely, since this is a journey I need to take alone. I hope to be as strong as you are. And I hope what I’m really meant to do in life soon. Thank you for your article.

  • Ditto and you are so very welcome, look forward to hearing more about your journey 🙂

  • Well that’s perfect. If that’s what you love and you know your ‘why’ to what you do then great. As long as you are happy that’s all that matters. I didn’t start with all that, I had to leave everything behind to get where I am now and it’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination but I do it because that’s what I want to do. If you want something badly enough you’ll do anything think of ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ that was far from easy but Chris Garner did it against all the odds for his child. None of this has been easy but I get to do what I love. Thank you so much for your comment I totally appreciate where you are coming from. Keep up that attitude 🙂

  • Oh Darci I absolutely here how sad you feel in your message. Sadly these days there are no permanent jobs anymore, the days of staying at job for 30 odd years are few and far between and it’s only going to get worse. That’s not to make it sound scary, but people are deciding they want to be a part of their own future and make their own money. Everyone can do that and I intend to be a part of that. I totally get where you are coming from. Did you enjoy the job? What was it you loved? the thing is here in working out what you want to do, you need to find out what really gets you going – what you love and work with that. Living in the past, as you appear to be doing, will just keep you unhappy. Thinking ‘I;ll be happy when this happens or that’ will just keep you stuck. You don’t want that do you? It’s time to get you moving again, you are your own person in your own right your job doesn’t make you successful or special. YOU already are…

  • Absolutely Alice. The thing is ‘we’ are society so it;s up to us to change things and shake it up! We need more education in school about going for what you want and your dreams. Yes, what matters is what makes YOU happy and no one else – could not agree more!

  • Hey there, you are not alone in this journey. Look at all the other comments, so many people feel the same way as you. Why can’t you get into graphic design? What’s holding you back? If being creative is what you love to do, why not start a blog showing off your art and gaining some followers? Get it out there, create and don’t worry about what others think… I’d love to help if I can so come join my FB group you’ll see it on the link on one of my blog posts on my website. You have a gift, just like all the other people on this post. You’ve got to share it! 🙂

  • Jenn. Wonderful!!! Who wrote in the ‘rule book for life’ that we all have to work for someone else and have a JOB? No one! I am such an advocate for this. You can do what you want. Do what you love, what fills you with passion and uncover your true bliss. Do let me know how you get on Jenn. I feel you I ready and with regard to your friends, some people just don’t get it. Don’t worry join a group like my group on facebook there are plenty of people who get your story! 🙂

  • AMP

    Your blog is speaking right through me and brought me to tears in a good way. I commend you for doing what it takes to make your soul happy. 🙂 Money is a tangible thing that comes and goes. It is not the very source of happiness and never was. As long as the bills are paid while doing something that serves a purpose in your life, it is ALL that matters. You do not need society’s approval. It is your life after all, you only get to live once and it better be a happy, soulful one. Best regards!

  • J

    wow this is so inspiring..seriously I am going through something like this minus the job part..i am called to do something be a banyan tree…and that makes me feel guilty-that i am not like everybody else…thank you paula..keep have a great gift at writing…

  • Carolyn Kristof

    I can’t even put into words how perfectly timed your piece feels to my husbands life choices right now. You speak the words I haven’t found how to say to him. I have sent it to him and we’ll let the universe take it from there. With much gratitude…

  • Hey Carolyn. Oh my, that is such a lovely thing to say and I cant’ tell you how honored I feel reading your message. I am glad it has helped in some way and that you have a better understanding of your husbands choices. You love him that is clear. Just wonderful and as you say ‘let the universe take if from there’. Gratitude to you too Carolyn for sharing 🙂

  • Oh don’t feel guilty at all. You be what you want to be, no one’s opinion is important and if it is (especially family) it’s because they care but not sure how to communicate it without fear. You do what you do best and keep smiling. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • I am so happy you understand. Are you on your own journey too? I’d love to know. Yes Money does come and go and happiness is so important, as long as we are who we really are. Your words are just perfect and heartfelt. Thank you so much, bless your day 🙂

  • serene_bean

    This makes me feel so hopeful. I do not have a “real” job by societal standards…I am a homemaker with a part-time job one day a week, which many people think is lowly. But I do it for a reason:To be able to have time to spend with my wonderful husband, to do the things I love, to take care of us by having a garden and preserving and making all my own food, and hopefully, one day, to bring my writing to fruition. I think this article will strike a chord to those who don’t have a job also. Thank you!

  • Joe


    Thank you so much for your article on Tiny Buddha: “Your Job Doesn’t Define You.” It was awesome! I can totally relate about getting out of the rat race and being done with climbing the corporate ladder. Thank you!

  • Hey Joe! Thank you so much! Its great that you have found the courage to do the same thing! Good on you and thanks for saying ‘Hi’ 🙂

  • Oh Serene, your life is your life totally. As long as you are happy that is all that matters. Life is short, don’t waste it being unhappy. So glad you and your husband have found that balance and way of life. Just perfect 🙂

  • oambitiousone

    I have been cleaning for over a decade. It came up as a means of working part time while coordinating child care with my spouse. I left it for an academic job that fell in my lap and seemed ideal. Yet I returned to cleaning. I get to be active, make people happy (oh so happy!), listen to audio books or talk radio, and leave something better than I found it. Getting over the feeling that it’s demeaning work has been the hardest part.

  • Yey! High five my cleaning buddy! That’s awesome, I love hearing stuff like this and you know what you sound like you love it so that’s just perfect. You know not everyone has to love the same things, life would be oh so boring if we were all the same dont you think? Fair play to you so good to hear. And yes it’s difficult but there are no rule books for life, you do what you need to do for you. Thank you 🙂

  • Rebecca

    Thank you. When the recession hit, I needed extra income. I became a housekeeper (part time) at a local historical inn. I still get freelance work in my field (publishing) whenever I can, but the job I have as a housekeeper is actually one of the “best” jobs I’ve ever had. Providing customers with a clean guest room is an accomplishment in itself. I don’t have to take the job home with me, either. The work is done when the work day is done. It’s also nice not to have to sit at a desk for hours on end.

  • Great Rebecca. I love how you love what you do. Good on you! So good to hear and you know what? That’s what defines you, your attitude, your great optimistic attitude (and so much more I suspect). Oh and yeah, sitting at a desk doing a job not so great – yeah never nice! 🙂 Thank you

  • N G

    wow how i needed this. I am currently an interior designer, but i have some kind of burnout and now i don’t know what i want to do with my life…

    it’s amazing that you had the courage to make the career switch. I’m going to try to find my way these three weeks (construction holiday) and hope to find something that can keep or make me happy while being able to maintain most of my way of living (I just bought a house 6 months ago). how did you start changing your life and how did you decide what to do? where did you find the courage?

    ps: this keyboard is terrible, sorry for typos

  • Awesome post! Eye-opener.. This post has helped to realize that I already am in a state where I am happy as I quit my job long back to spend quality time with my baby boy. Only, I forgot why i quit my job in the first place and was thinking of joining back in the rat race before read this.

  • haha wonderful, that’s so cool! I am glad it’s reminded you of what’s important in your life. After all, that’s why were are here isn’t it? To bring to the world our own gifts….thank you

  • Hey no worries. Sorry I’ve only just seen your comment. I think I decided that I had to let go of a lot of things, lots of stuff I didn’t need. I moved home, sold a lot of stuff and decided that there was more freedom in that. The courage however, was there all along. I had to do something because I just didn’t want to work for anyone else in the end. If the pain is bad enough you’ll change and nothing will stop you. It’s really down to you, what you feel is important and work with that….hope that helps in some way 🙂

  • Steve

    Thank you Paula your story helped me out, my situation a bit different until recently I was a tree surgeon I was content in the job but it was the climbing that I loved for the rush. I also loved telling people I was a tree surgeon because of the reaction I got were always one of amazement, as it was not your only everday job. Due to an injury I can’t climb anymore or use heavy vibrating tools so I can’t continue . I used to work in an office and I don’t want to go back to sitting on a chair all day looking at a screen so I now collect bins and pick up litter. I understand that is an important job to the community and Im sure once I keep doing it for the next few months I will adjust but for the moment I’m absorbed in self pity and don’t want to tell anyone what I do. After reading your blog I now find myself very vain and should be thankful that I even have a job, after all there’s a lot of people out there who don’t and I now intend trying to find myself some interests to presue now I have the time.

    Thank you

  • Jan2

    Everyone has a different approach to achieving what they want in life. My dad lost his job when I was 14 and I grew up in a developing country, which means we did not get ‘benefits’ or anything at all for free. You either worked and ate, or died. Since that age, I have promised myself two things – the first one is that I will not ‘depend’ on anyone for financial security except myself (obviously there are handicapped people who may not physically be able to do that, but barring a handicap or medical condition, nothing on earth can make me dependent on anyone else in the rest of my life). The second thing I learnt was that if I want to live the life I want (minus the corporate bullshit and politics), then I need to make a plan in such a way that I don’t really need to work (not just a knee-jerk reaction to having a few bad days). I now have an investment plan that will guarantee an income every month and pay my bills. I am about 3/4th of the way and will need another 2-3 years to achieve complete financial independence without depending on any kind of work (or a partner). This keeps me motivated and at the same time really really aloof from getting too involved in office politics. Its surprising what I can achieve at work when I don’t get too stressed or involved. And yet, the things that I achieve daily at work don’t matter at all in the very least because whether it is good or bad, it will end in 2-3 years, I will see to that. For once in my life, I am glad I am stubborn enough to make something work. And this time, its solely for me and no one else’s profit.

  • Alyaa

    Dear Pawla,
    Very inspiring and very eloquent words. I’ve been going through difficult times at work and I’m stuck in what you called “rat race”. People envy me for working for a big company but I don’t find corporate job fulfilling. I’m extremely depressed and anxious and I never expected that job would make me feel that bad; it’s getting increasingly toxic day after day. I want to follow my dreams but my family commitment as a mother of three children and my demanding job at daytime never gives enough time to focus on writing.
    But while I was reading through this article, I was wondering what your dream was and did you achieve it?

  • Lyn

    I worked very hard for over 20 years and worked a corporate job. I desire to work part time and enjoy life. I have no debt and have a fiance that is a good provider. I am at the point in my life where i want to work for a purpose.

  • Talitha

    It was not a coincidence that I so happen to read this encouraging article. Even though this was written such a while ago I feel like you’ve written this recently. Your words and experience resonate with me so deeply and has given me the strength to continue to believe in my passions and capabilities. Having worked in the office environment since I’ve been able to obtain a job I guess you can say that I am truly burnt out and tired of the daily monotony that has invaded my creativeness. I’ve become so comfortable with knowing that even though I detest the office environment I’m willing to sacrifice my deepest passions for a paycheck and because I often fear of the unknown. I’ve reached this point where I can no longer suppress my desire to live a full life that I want to live and I am so grateful to have come upon your blog. How did you have the courage to let it go and do what your passionate about?

  • met1966

    Um, if you were making so much money you could travel and buy anything you wanted, why on earth did you end up with debt? Why didn’t you save some of that money so you could do whatever fulfilling thing it is you want to do? I’m sorry, but you lost me there. You could have continued working the office job and saved most of it for a period of time. I don’t see this is an inspirational story; more a cautionary tale.

  • MI5 clarke

    Don’t no why but in the UK people are looked down on if they work as a cleaner or in a takeaway shop. In the USA it’s a career.

  • Ryan Miller

    Thank you so much for your input! I never was one who needed to make a lot of money, i just wanted a good living in a job that i could appreciate. But so many office jobs are either boring, stressful, or don’t pay as much as you’d think. I always loved delivering pizzas, but wanted to make use of my college degree so that i hadn’t gone to college for nothing. And i was afraid I’d be seen as unsuccessful if i was just a pizza delivery driver. I cared too much about my “career image”. But the most important thing to me is my happiness and especially my girlfriend and our future family. Plus, I always have had dreams of being a comedic actor, this might be my chance to pursue it