Hello and long time no speak! Apologies for the break in posting – life got a bit too much there for a while and some things had to give. But the big news is – I actually did it! I resigned from my job in December and have left the Corporate world far behind.
I am still getting used to the idea and genuinely wake up smiling to myself every day, wondering whether this can be real 🙂 So how did it all play out?
It Was Only a Matter of Time
Regular readers of this blog will know that I had been having a tough year career-wise and was becoming increasingly frustrated with all things work related.
The travel demands of the job and regularly leaving my family when they needed the stability of a regular routine were taking their toll on all of us. My youngest was missing more and more school due to sickness – almost always when I was either away with work or on a day where I was commuting to another office and leaving the house before he was awake.
The ever increasing demands of the workplace were unrelenting. I felt owned 24/7 by a company that acted both as angel and devil in my life. The company itself was not bad – indeed far from it. The salary, the benefits, the flexibility to work (mostly) wherever I chose, the gadgets, the free food, the gym membership, the family healthcare – the list of positives was long. And when compared to the places where friends worked and the paltry rewards they received for far more important roles (teachers, midwives, nurses) I felt spoiled and ungrateful – how could I even think of leaving this behind?
And yet inside, I was slowly being destroyed. Forcing myself to act every day in a high profile role that was totally against my introvert nature was exhausting. My self-worth was on the floor when I thought about the projects I undertook – streamlining the workforce, squeezing profit margins at the expense of people’s well-being. The measure of whether I did a good job was in incremental points of profit improvement; the human element completely ignored. And for what? I didn’t save any lives or deliver any babies.
It’s Not You It’s Me
At different stages of my life, the corporate life has worked in my favour. Having a successful career in such a lucrative field was the most important factor in getting to this financial position. Spending less than you earn is not difficult when you earn a good salary. So this feeling of dissatisfaction and unease says more about me and my stage in life than the corporate life itself. In spite of my unhappiness over the last couple of years, I would still encourage my children to pursue this type of career if that’s what they wanted. It will serve them well.
But for me, now, middle-aged, stable, financially secure – other things are more important. When I asked myself what do I want more of in my life – time or money, there was no contest.
Change can be hard. It is sometimes easier to go with the flow, drift along, think to yourself – one more week, one more month, one more year – than to make a decision to change. And this is what I had been doing for a long time. The pendulum swung from stay to go on a daily basis and the indecision was exhausting.
But life isn’t meant to be lived that way – surviving instead of thriving. I was worn down, stressed, overweight and drinking too much as I sought coping mechanisms for continuing to sell my soul. And when one of my children was diagnosed with a heart condition requiring surgery, the walls came tumbling down.
Life has a funny way of forcing perspective. Faced with this situation, everything except my nearest and dearest became insignificant in an instant. Living only in the moment, I cared nothing for my email inbox or the quarter end or the conference calls I was missing – they didn’t even cross my mind.
The company were incredibly supportive and gave me the time I needed to be with my family without question and for this I will always be grateful. The surgery was a success and cutting a long story short my son bounced back to health as young people do. But I had underestimated the toll the whole episode would take on me when I was in an unhealthy and stressed state and once he was fully recovered, I found myself depressed and anxious and struggling with everyday life.
I took a further leave of absence from work to focus on getting myself back to full health and it soon became apparent that the best option for me was to never return. And so the decision was made.
The Next Chapter
A month later and it hasn’t properly sunk in that this new freedom is real. I’m still in the recovery phase for sure. Counselling and medication have pulled me from the depths of depression. But years of burning the candle at both ends and operating on high alert are not easily forgotten.
Every day is now a treasure. I’m not exaggerating when I say I smile to myself every single morning. My life is calm and quiet; I spend hours outside, walking through woodlands and around lakes with my dog, enjoying the crisp cold days, the fresh air and the solitude. One of the favourite parts of my day has become pausing at a bridge over a stream, watching the water tumble over the stones in a tiny waterfall and thinking about nothing. Back at home, I have hot coffee and an endless supply of books to read until the boys return from school and force some structure.
What’s next? I have no idea. But I’m looking forward to finding out.