October 27, 2016
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Ever feel like you’re destined for something greater? Like you’re not reaching your full potential? Like you’re making a living but not a life?
That’s how I felt. I had a cushy job as a senior digital content strategist for a large health care company. Good salary, benefits, job security — on the surface everything was great.
But I was miserable.
The 75-minute (one-way) commute, the corporate bureaucracy and long hours away from my wife and young son were taxing. My health suffered too. Despite exercising five days a week and eating a clean, plant-focused diet, I started getting sick at least once a month. I had reactions to food and drinks for the first time that were so severe, I landed in the hospital.
My breaking point came shortly after senior leadership announced we were going to be required to work 70-hour “power weeks.” I called my wife, a 2nd grade teacher and my biggest confidante. When I told her I was thinking about resigning, she encouraged me to do what was best for me and our family.
I walked out the door half an hour later, feeling liberated but terrified. It was as though I had just jumped off a cliff with no parachute, but I never looked back. After letting it sink in for a couple days, I realized I was finally free. From that point forward, I had unshakable confidence that things would work out exactly as they should.
Today, I wake up every day focused on growing my “passion project” into a full-fledged business (it’s a plant-based protein powder company, in case you care). I’m not earning nearly enough cash to support my family yet, but it’s growing quickly. Every single day I experience something new and exciting. I’m also doing some consulting work in conversation rate optimization (CRO), website user experience (UX), content strategy and copywriting in the health and wellness space. This is work I’m good at and that I enjoy doing.
My health issues dissapated, and my stress levels went down too. I can honestly say I’ve never been more excited about what’s happening in my work life than I am right now.
I want to share three profound insights I gleaned through this experience. I know a lot of you will relate. I’ll sum each one up with a quote.
1. Time is worth so much more than money.
“Time triage is actually the most important decision we have. What are we going to spend our time on?” — Ray Kurzweil
Until Kurzweil and company figure out how to help us live forever, our time here is finite. How are you spending yours?
Here’s a good exercise that helped me better prioritize my time. Write down where you want to be in one year. What do you want to happen with your career? Your love life, family, friends? Your physical and mental health? Where do you want to travel? What goals do you want to accomplish?
Print this out and post it somewhere you’ll see it everyday. It’ll help you stay focused and use your time more wisely.
2. What needs to change?
“Ask yourself, ‘what’s missing.’ Then fill that gap.” — Steven Pressfield
If there was one thing you could change about your current career situation, what would it be? I was missing the freedom to do the type of work I loved and the fulfillment that comes with it. Maybe you’re not making the money you want or you’d like to try a different role at your company.
Identify what you’re missing, and take steps to get it. If you want to make more money and you’re sick of settling for three percent raises — or none — at your current job, make a bold move and jump ship to another company. Or do some side hustling selling a service you’re good at. Or spend some time learning a new skill like writing, web design or coding.
If you’re not happy in your current position, tell your boss you’d like to try something else. If he or she doesn’t support you, go to their boss. Good leaders will reward initiative. If you hate your commute, find a job that allows you to work from home.
Nothing changes until you decide to you’re ready to do the work though.
3. When you go, go all in.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Geothe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it’. Begin it now.” — W.H. Murray
Take. Bold. Action.
Those three words will make the difference between success and failure whenever you make a big change in your life. Most people will tell you to play it safe because you should feel “lucky to have a job.”
Here’s the part they don’t tell you. When you put yourself in a position where you have no choice but to find a way, you will find a way. Not everything will go as you planned. That’s okay. Failures are opportunities in disguise.
We are resilient beyond measure but because we’re scared to fail we rarely stretch our limits . If you want to change something in your life, there’s no time like the present.