Date archive: November 2019
Not long ago, I found myself face to face with a terrifying dilemma. I had been running as hard and as fast as I could to avoid accepting reality and I had run out of road. There was nothing in front of me except a tall cliff and turbulent waters below. Behind me was a monster of my own making, barrelling down on me like a freight train. I furtively glanced over my shoulder and with no more evasive maneuvers available, I naturally made the only choice an action hero could make – – I hurtled myself over the edge, plummeting through the air with arms flailing wildly, and plunged into the icy waters below.
OK, quitting my day job may not have been as dramatic as all that and perhaps it doesn’t qualify as an Indiana Jones worthy, life-and-death-hanging-in-the-balance, kind of adventure, but it has certainly been filled with thrills, pitfalls, obstacles, and ultimately – redemption. Giving up a regular income and the predictable way of life my husband and I had become accustomed to was a gargantuan risk, no doubt, and it was also the most exhilarating stunt I’ve pulled off in a long time. It was exactly what was required in this instance to restore balance to my life . . . and I should have done it years ago.
Come on, admit it, you know there have been times when a sweeping overhaul of your life was long overdue. But have you done anything about it, or have you simply allowed yourself to languish for years with no end in sight to the daily drudgery? Even when we recognize the need to adjust our sails and set a new course, how do we get up the gumption to break the monotony and implement a plan of action? Ideally, we would objectively plan for the future and play the waiting game ever so skillfully until it’s the perfect time to strike. But more often than not we suffer stoically through our miserable circumstances, hopelessly mired in self-doubt, guilt, and apathy. We become hostages to fear of the unknown, sabotaged by the what ifs.
The thought of turning in my resignation and all that it entailed paralyzed me with fear but the thought of staying put left me feeling hopelessly dejected. As established by my long-suffering passivity, clearly, I wasn’t willing to make a major life change while enveloped in a safe (albeit stagnant) environment, so what was I to do? Waiting for the monstrous flood waters to inevitably envelop me was far less palatable than diving in with grit and abandon on my own terms. Could it be that that No Plan was cleverly disguised as a GREAT PLAN?
Now and again you just have to embody the spirit of adventure à la Indiana Jones:
With much trepidation and a vise-like knot clenching at my guts,
I closed my eyes and leapt . . . Off the quitter’s cliff I flew!
The initial impact of the cold water was shocking, but as my stunned body struggled to overcome the jolt, self-preservation seized me and I defiantly swam upward. Gasping for air as my head broke the surface, I felt the warm sun on my face and my spirit soared. I didn’t die!! Filled with the exhilaration of survival, I realized that jumping to what seemed like certain death was, in reality, my very salvation.
Leaving an unfulfilling job behind, I was suddenly freed from chains I was only marginally aware I’d been sporting. At long last, I had found the time to reassess my goals, take inventory of my skills, get reacquainted with my inner voice, and restore a modicum of peace to my soul. As I navigate the Between Employment River with steady, deliberate strokes I’ve been using the time constructively so that when I’m ready to step back on dry land, I can re-engage the work world with a renewed passion and healthy mindset. Paddling along day by day, I’ve gained an enormous amount of clarity and discovered that I can swim farther, and my lungs can hold more air than I ever thought possible. It’s been a positive, reality-checking, time of self-discovery!
By reconnecting with former co-workers and good friends I’ve been reminded that I add value to the world and that once upon a time I used to enjoy contributing my unique talents to the workplace. In reviewing my resume and digging deep into my past job experiences I have been able to identify what my talents are and where my interests lie. Utilizing resources like LinkedIn, recruiter websites, and other online tools has proven invaluable in successfully navigating the modern, murky waters of digital-age employment seeking. And just allowing myself time to decompress and recover from years of apathy has given me a fresh perspective on life in general.
Make no mistake, I fully understand that life is filled with good days and bad days. No job is going to fulfill all my needs, no workplace is perfect, and no amount of leaping off cliff after cliff will solve all my problems. But taking stock in who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I want to go, is a valuable exercise which my self-imposed break has afforded me. I may be middle-aged, but I’ve got my whole life ahead of me!
While you may not be ready to pull a full-on Butch and Sundance like I did, you ought to at least consider where your areas of stagnation lie. A well thought-out plan is awesome if you can execute it, but sometimes testing your mettle is worth the heart-pounding dive! Drumming up the courage to jump is the most difficult part and adversity is surely promised, but it’s in surviving that reveals what you’re made of and determines your future character! How will you ever attain those dreams if you aren’t venturesome enough to take a risk, knowing that sustaining a few bruises is part of the badge of honor you’ll wear proudly when you succeed? If you’re willing to embrace the unknown, humble enough to accept assistance, and resolute in pressing on to wherever the current takes you, you’ll withstand the fall and rise up with purpose.