Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.
I have been a responsible, workaholic my whole life. Even as a student I "worked" at all my classes and extra-curricular activities like they were my job. I put myself, my family, and especially my social life, second to work. Work defined me. Professional achievement and recognition drove me. I knew that eventually I'd get to that place in my career where I was happily successful and could then balance life.
John Lennon wrote in Beautiful Boy, " Life is just what happens to you while your busy making other plans."Life just happened to me one day about 18 months ago. I walked into my office-a place where I had success in the 10 years I had been there-and it became alarmingly clear that I hated my workaholic self. I was miserable. I didn't want to be there. I was angry, stressed, exhausted-and worst of all; uninspired. There was no ladder to climb, no more money to be made. I had done all that I could. Each day I was just going through the motions on someone's else's schedule. That particular day, I missed yet another activity at school. My daughter and I had a tiff on the way to school because my mind wasn't on her; it was already mentally putting out fires I knew I'd encounter at the office. That was typical for our relationship. As a single mom trying to "do it all", I was hurting the person I loved most in the world for a job I no longer felt passion. I felt like a hamster on a wheel; my little legs were always on the go, yet I went nowhere.
I started hyperventilating the moment I walked into my office and I knew, I just KNEW. I needed OUT. I needed out NOW! Sometimes when a relationship goes sour, you need to end it quick. Just rip the band-aid off. Sure, it smarts at first, but it is better than prolonged pain. So, I closed my door and ripped the band-aid off. I packed up my personal belongings, typed a letter of resignation, and told my boss I was done. I quit!
I'm not sure who was more shocked. This was so unlike me! I am responsible! I had rent, tuition and a daughter to care for! I had projects all over the place! I had events to plan! Despite attempts to talk me off the ledge, I stuck with my gut, gave him my keys and my badge and let him escort me out of the building.
It was by far the gutsiest thing I've ever done in my life.
But, I knew it was the right decision. As soon as I got into my car and began to drive away, I felt myself breathing again. The weight lifted off my chest and shoulders. For the first time in so very long I felt lightness inside and not a heavy sinking feeling. When I got home, I flipped out. "What the HELL did I just do??! I am not that irresponsible!! What will I do now?! Who WAS I?" Reality set in and it scared the you-know-what out of me.
I let myself cry and grieve the end of this part of my life for a day or so. My parents and boyfriend at the time were wonderfully supportive. They listened and let me talk it out. (I know they thought I completely lost my mind!) They reinforced their belief in me and that made all the difference in my first steps to believing in me again.
Over the next few weeks, hopefulness replaced fear. I actually felt a sense of excitement! I was off the wheel! I could go anywhere and do anything that I chose to do. My options were unlimited! My daughter and I started discussed things WE wanted to do. I told her being there for her physically, emotionally and mentally was my priority. At the age of 11 and entering middle school--she needed her mom more than ever.
In the 18 months since I made this gutsy move, I have made others. To keep my daughter in her school, I moved home with my parents (at 40!). I put most of my belongings in storage-my whole life packed into a 10x30 cube. I decided I needed to work on our dreams and our future and I'd do whatever is necessary to never return to Corporate America. These were sacrifices I was willing to make to support my new vision.
I now use my expertise as a consultant working with others to help grow their businesses. I make my own schedule. I say no to projects that don't fit my life and goals. I practice yoga. I started pet sitting for a friend's company and I enjoy spending part of my days in the sunshine walking my fur babies! Through tons of personal development, I have rid myself of the stress and negativity that was bringing me down. I've disengaged from toxic people and situations that used to foster my own negativity and stress. Now, I do not miss any of my daughter's games. I volunteer at school. I watch more than 20 minutes of Field Day. She and I have meaningful, pleasant conversations on the way to school. It has made all the difference in her life too.
Life did happen while I was making other plans and I am thankful for it. I am a completely different person-a better person--than I was that fateful day I last walked into an office. My daughter and I have a stronger relationship. People tell me I look happier/brighter (and thinner and blonder-those are benefits I was not expecting!) The stumbling blocks I face no longer send me into a downward spiral. The blocks have become bricks with which I build our future. I am still working to define myself in this new role but it is a challenge I enjoy. Perhaps that is my next blog topic. :)