At the end of 2017, I quit. Yes, without a fall black plan in place. Some people would call this move crazy. Others wouldn’t be surprised.
You see, the job was comfortable, the people were beyond amazing, and I gained a wealth of experience in my first professional year in marketing. But something was missing. I needed more.Comfortable was safe. Comfortable paid the bills. But I couldn’t mistake comfort for fulfillment and happiness. I was no longer excited to go to work every day. And admittedly, it showed in my behaviors.
A million and one thoughts ran through my head as I sat down with my boss…What if I stuck out another year with the company? Maybe there would be room for growth by then. Will future employers look down on me for starting my third job at the age of 25? Do I really want to go through the stress of job searching again? Should I wait until I have something secure lined up?
I was afraid of disappointing my small team. The guilt, anxiety, fear, and self-doubt kept me awake at night. I didn’t want to admit defeat, but staying and second guessing my gut instinct would have done both parties a disservice.
I came to the realization that passion isn’t something you can force. It was time to get honest with myself once again; I was settling.
Since the majority of our waking hours are spent working, our lives shouldn’t be spent counting down the years to retirement, the minutes until holiday, or the seconds until 5 o’clock. We should set up a life we don’t need to escape from. So, with reluctance, I put in my two weeks notice right before the holidays.At first I thought I was only quitting my job. But this snowballed into quitting at life. Over the next couple months, I became more depressed than I ever have been in my life (including my homesick phase of living in Australia). I felt worthless, frustrated and angry at myself. Why can’t I find something I’m passionate and excited to jump out of bed about? Why did I make such a rash decision? When will I be good enough?
My passion for everything I used to love was fading… I quit blogging after 7+ years, I quit running daily, I quit learning photography, I quit reaching out to important people in my life. I lost all confidence in myself and my worth. I became reckless in my behaviors. I lost my 4 closest girlfriends because I was a miserable person to be around. I was taking no accountability for my actions and was was making excuse after excuse for my behaviors.
This was my rock bottom. It was the wake up call I needed.
I couldn’t keep sulking and feeling sorry for myself; harping over things I couldn’t control while doing nothing to change my circumstances. I needed to make big life changes. And fast. Before things spiraled any further out of control.Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I sat down for coffee with a good friend (He always gives the best advice as a budding entrepreneur aching to quit his corporate job). I told him“I’m thinking of going to grad school since don’t have the skills to get a solid job in marketing with this finance degree…” He listened to me very intently, then said: “I have a crazy idea for you… how about you take that $100,00 and go all out with the digital nomad thing. Gain invaluable experiences traveling around the world; something you can’t get from any classroom. If you fail, will you be any worse off? You won’t have that itch and look back on these years thinking ‘what if'” I thought to myself… that is so crazy, it just might work.
He then had me watch a Ted Talk by Tim Ferris on why you should define your fears instead of your goals. Sounds absurd, right? Trust me, if you’re feeling lost, stuck and overwhelmed, you need to give it a watch. The premise of “Fear Setting” is to train yourself to separate what you can and can’t control and do exercises to focus exclusively on what you can. It means visualizing the worst case scenario in detail that you fear, that preventing you from taking action – so that you can take action. Because the thing is, the hard choices -what we most fear doing, asking, saying – are very often exactly what we need to do.
Later in the week, I sat down with another close friend who listened to my sob story, then said: “Shane I was in your spot a year ago today… I lost my job, a girl I was crazy about, and my father within a month. And look at me now. I am killing it. Because I decided to have confidence in myself and my abilities. Because I believed in myself. ”
Most recently, I sat down with a new freelance client who is also an entrpeneur and a career coach. I told her: “I’m toying with the idea of whether I keep doing this freelancing thing or go back to the corporate world. I don’t want to dip into my savings. She said: Have you had to dip into your savings yet? I said: No… She said: “Is your freelance going well? Do you like what you’re doing?” I said: Y”es..but my mom thinks I should be saving for a house, etc. (pause) But I don’t even want a house… ” Her advice: “You already knows what you want and what you would do if you’re following herself…but when people we love and the world start to insert their voices that’s when we become wishy washy and veer off track. You’ve got to do it for you! No one else.”
These valuable talks with people I admire greatly gave me the hope I needed to build up my confidence, believe in myself, and finally take a leap of faith. I’m only 25. I’m single, without children or a mortgage. I don’t want to look back on my life and say “I wish I had the courage to do it sooner.” If I’m going to screw up royally, there’s no better time than now. Taking the road less traveled and going after the life you dream of for yourself takes perseverance and passion. It means making the tough decisions and sacrifices to get to where you want to be. It takes quieting your inner critic and the voices of judgement of the nay-sayers around you. It means not feeling the need to satisfy the expectations of what others think as normal. It means not being terrified to fail.
Today, I am taking an enormous leap of faith by following my heart and intuition. At this point in my life, I am allowing myself to explore all of my passions; to be flexible to change my mind and adapt as needed. I may be risking it all, but the potential to gain is so much greater. If my doubts were enough to hold me back, then my empowered thoughts are enough to help me succeed.
I am here to not just survive, but to thrive.
Who’s with me?