I decided, at 4 p.m. on Friday, December 2, that I had enough. I packed up most of my belongings, and organized my office for the person who would follow. I wrote an email, and a chapter of my work life ended.
The specific reasons are not important. Suffice it to say, I finally admitted to myself that I was frustrated, unhappy, disillusioned, conflicted, and really, really burned out. I realized in a very calm and lucid moment, that I needed a change. It was the easiest, hardest and boldest thing I had done in a long time.
I didn’t plan to do this. And it was OKAY.
I didn’t have a job to go to. And it was OKAY.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. And it was (and remains) OKAY.
I was fortunate that I could make such a spontaneous decision. I am more fortunate that, five months later, I am still reaping the benefits of my professional hiatus. You see, in the harried busyness of my job, I had become accustomed to the adrenaline and the stress. Doctors and dentist appointments were cancelled. Exercise was non-existent. Wine was the daily conduit that moved me from my daytime life into my home life. My passion for cooking gave way to cheap, fast take out. I wasn’t hearing my husband talk to me. I fell asleep while watching TV, but I couldn’t sleep a full night—I‘d lie awake wondering how to fix everything.
I was not really living. I was not working smart or getting ahead, and I sure as hell wasn’t reaping any meaningful rewards in any part of my life.
I am here to tell you that it’s OKAY to realize that something isn’t good enough. It is OKAY to say it out loud and believe it. It is OKAY to walk away for reasons only you understand.
The first few weeks were hard—awkward even. Not because I missed my old job, but for the first time in a very long time I had time to think and to just be MYSELF. I became comfortable with my decision and I stopped feeling like I had to justify it to anyone else. It is brave, scary and liberating to step out of a routine and defy expectations. It is empowering to recognize when enough is enough and to make necessary changes.
I took a yoga trip to Bali, and toured Thailand and made 20 new friends—all of them helpful to me on my journey. I filled my time with things just for me. I stood under a waterfall in a jungle. I looked an elephant right in the eyes. I read books. I walked my dogs in the woods. I sat on my porch and watched birds. I cleaned out closets and looked at pictures. I slept all night. I got to know myself again.
Most importantly, I thought about things in an intentional and complete way. I looked up and out and forward.
Here’s what I learned:
• What I do is not who I am; I have value beyond a paycheck.
• I can define success and contentment in new and different ways.
• I want to enjoy the nice parts of my life with real, authentic pleasure.
• I care more about what I think of me than what others think of me.
• I am in control of my story, and I know it will end well.
I am grateful to have had this experience. My bar is set higher, and the things I value for myself and in my work life will be different.
And I know that whatever I choose to do, I am enough.