This year I’ve made huge and much needed changes in my life. At the start of the year I felt wrecked, too long working without a break, unrealistic expectation mostly of me by me, a poor diet and a manic lifestyle had all started to take their toll. So I did the unthinkable and left my well paid secure job with nothing to go to but the hope of something better. Some of my senior colleagues were so confused by the choice that they asked if I had cancer……….clearly the choice to walk away from money for life wasn’t one they were familiar with!
Six months on and I’m taking stock of what has changed and what I have acheived. I was prompted to write this by a post from Lindsay at Treading my Own Path – I wanted to say in my own way that change is good but that doesn’t stop it being hard to adjust and it doesn’t mean you’ve made the wrong choice.
In the last six months I’ve cut my working hours from constant, to a few paid hours a month. My daily exercise has gone from sedantry, to lifting, climbing and constantly moving as I work on our house renovation. Although I’m not earning much, I am saving us £1000’s in builders fees. I’ve done things that I never thought I could do and I still get a huge sense of satisfaction in completing tasks. I eat breakfast everyday as opposed to never. I don’t drink coffee as there is no coffee run to tempt me away from my resolve. I have time to read and make things and be sociable. The sum of all these changes is that I feel healthier and stronger than I have in years. Even my hairdresser has noticed the difference and i no longer need to visit my Osteopath.
This all sounds idylic but there is a but. Redefining yourself is hard. I never thought I was attached to the status that my job gave me but without it I struggle to define myself. I still fall into saying what I used to do when I’m asked what I do. I’ve had to accept that while I don’t believe that you should be defined by a job, I have done that tomyself for years and changing the pattern doesn’t come overnight. Securing freelance work is much harder than I anticipated and requires confidence and perseverance that I don’t have in spades.
I think the key to making a big change like this is understanding your goals and dare I say, purpose. As a professional, my day to day purpose was to protect my company from legal threats, I was a legal ninja without the mutant turtle suit :0
The second most important thing it to be comfortable with your goals and purpose, even if they run against every bit of social conditioning you have had to date. And this is where I have found the change hard. I’m learning that being comfortable with your goals and purpose doesn’t mean feeling comfortable – because change is by it’s very nature uncomfortable.
My goal in leaving my job was to get well and create a life rather than a rushed existence, although I planned to go freelance, building a business wasn’t the primary goal. It’s a credible goal but it feels a bit frivolous and I’ve been embarrassed to call it a purpose. Having been driven to achieve for so long I feel a bit aimless at the moment although I know the move was the right decision.
Six months in and it’s time for me to get a bit more specific with myself but also to stop being apologetic for the choices I’ve made.
My purpose for the moment is to create the best possible life for my husband and I. That doesn’t mean making tons more money, it means making sure we are both strong and healthy, making healthy food, reducing chemicals, working enough to ensure I feel challenged and tomake sure my husband doens’t feel he’s on his own in supporting our family, building our home, fostering our relationships with friends and family and helping them when they need it without intruding.
None of this fits the pattern I was brought up to expect – go to school, go to university, get a job, get a better job but if the purpose behind getting a better job and a pay rise is to build a better life then I don’t need it. I have everything I could want right now. My old job means that our home is secure. My old job has given me choices I need to be brave enough to stick with.
I wish all the luck and support in the world to people going through changes right now whether by choice or by circumstance. Be kind to yourself and trust that you’ll know what to do when the time comes. I would love to hear how you have adapted to change, does it get easier?!