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Free Article: "10 Tips to Living Well"

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    « Your Story Isn't Who You Are, Secrets to Staying Creative, and Nuts and Bolts | Main | When One Door Closes, Another Opens »

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    Beth

    Great blog post, Carol!

    Here's mine:

    Don't compromise for the sake of security--it's an illusion anyway. Follow what's most important to you, or what you have the most passion for.

    Carol Ross

    Thanks, Beth, for adding in your own great advice. I absolutely agree that the illusion of security often gets in the way of following our heart's desire.

    Dora

    Oh gosh, that comment couldn't come at a better time. I'm currently in a job because of security issues. It pays. It provides medical insurance. I have my own office. My boss is very kind and reasonable. My colleagues are nice. etc etc. And yet, I struggle to motivate myself to go to work everyday. I constantly want to be somewhere else. I can stay at my job, and (hopefully) climb the corporate ladder. But what is the point of climbing the ladder you don't think you should be on in the first place? If I stay, I will stay on this ladder, this line of work for the rest of my working life.

    I'm scared about leaving the security of this job. I'm scared about starting over. I'm scared about failing whenever it is I start over it. I'm scared about being umemployed. About being poor. About not finding such a nice boss, nice pay, nice benefits etc etc again. I also don't know how to tell my boss I want to leave. I don't really have a good reason. Except that I "need" to do something else.

    I know all the arguments for me to leave. Literally everyone I talk to tells me to JUST LEAVE. Close your eyes and jump. etc etc. And at the moment, I'm thinking, hey, if EVERYONE is saying the same thing, I can't really go wrong with this, can I?

    Carol Ross

    Hi Dora,

    Thanks for your comment. I would love to hear Beth's reaction to your situation and the thoughts running through your mind.

    And what comes up for me is a question I asked a friend, when she called me on her cell phone, on the way home after being fired from her job: "Are your best days behind you or ahead of you?" Her reply: "Ahead of me." Several years later, she's in a job that truly fits her strengths. She recently received an industry award, recognizing her outstanding work.

    While your entire body may be immersed in fear, your gut knows best. Take this as an opportunity to trust your gut. Then start laying out options on when to leave. It may be a year from now or one month from now. I've had clients set a date and from that point, things started to fall into place.

    A quote by Goethe says it all:

    "...the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.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. Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

    Begin, now, dear Dora.

    MJ

    Hi Dora - from your post I think that right now I am you. Nothing to complain about, except for TOTAL lack of interest in what I'm doing and a burning desire to get out and go into something radically different. And the energy drain that comes from still being in the "bleah" place. But we are not alone, and this can be dealt with and answered. I have to believe that it can.

    Carol - I am finally starting to "really" commit myself, so thank you for reminding me of this. In the past, I just didn't know where else to go (and while I have a million interests, I'm so tired and depleted at work that I'm not thinking about possibility any longer). While I'm still not sure, my gut knows that I am not going to be doing this, climbing this ladder, forever. It just isn't me - no one will be surprised. I'm always the person going sideways and trying to do something else.

    Dora

    Wow Carol, you are right about the gut instinct.

    I read your comment, and I thought, if someone is to ask me now whether I want to leave or stay and I have to answer right away, my answer would be "leave".

    My gut says to leave. My mind gives me all sorts of reasons to stay. And my body shakes with fear.

    But my gut says leave.

    Just today, something happened which almost took away my plans for when I leave. If I leave, I would be leaving to do something. And today, I was scared into realizing that that something will not be there forever. And with that scare, I realize that I can't afford to have the opportunity taken away from me.

    Besides, I also asked myself, will all this matter 1000 years from now? 100 years even? No. No one will know or care of the choices I have made, or am about to make. It doesn't matter.

    Thanks so much for posting the quotes, and your comment. It was a shove I really needed. A shove to push me closer to jumping over the edge.

    Thanks. :)

    Beth

    Hi Dora, and MJ, and Carol!

    What a great conversation. MJ, I think you are absolutely right that many people are in the situation you describe. It's one of the reasons many of my clients have come to coaching--to find a way out of being deadly bored and drained at work or in other parts of their lives, and into work and life that really feeds them.

    Should you “just jump,” Dora? Maybe. You sound pretty clear about wanting a change. That’s good information. Here are some questions to consider: How much uncertainty and fear can you tolerate? How real are the things you fear? How clear is your dream? (I’m not talking here about a plan, necessarily, but the feel and taste of what you want.) How can you move forward into that new space whether you leave immediately or not? I like Carol’s idea of setting a date and working toward it—how far out that date is depends a lot on the answers to those questions and others like them.

    I have leapt twice in my life so far, both times leaving a well-paid professional job for the unknown. The first time, I left a management job at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. and moved across the country from Vermont to Minnesota without work waiting for me here. The second time, I left a plum job as a book editor to work for myself as a freelance editor and to pursue coach’s training. I had a little bit of money and a little bit of a plan in both cases—and both transitions were very stressful. I have a pretty high tolerance for uncertainty, but anxiety woke me up at night for months both times. I think I’ve finally figured out, though, that I can’t usually plan the next thing when I’m still in the middle of the current one. I need clear space and room to think to know what I really want and to plan how to get there. Often I need a physical change as well—a change in routine or a change in living space. This isn’t true for everyone—but it’s worth considering whether it might be true for you. If it is, how can you give yourself that clear space?

    Often we see this whole issue in black and white—should I leave? should I stay? I think it’s more helpful to think about a spectrum of options. I am convinced that you can make big changes in your life without leaping off a cliff or setting your life on fire. Taking small steps consistently over time really adds up. Some suggestions:

    1. Clarify and develop your dream.

    What would be ideal work for you? What would it look like, feel like, sound like, taste and smell like? What are you yearning for? What feeds your soul? Write or draw about a perfect work day, or the qualities you’d like in a job, or who you’d like to work with, or what you want to contribute to the world through your work life.

    2. Take your vision and your passions seriously and feed them.

    What is it that you love most? What’s on your “bucket list” of things to do before the end of your life? Start doing them, even in small ways. Set aside time to paint or play music or waterski or hike or take a chemistry class or learn a new language—whatever it is that fires you up. Doing what you love, even some of the time, fills your well and gives you momentum.

    3. Negotiate for a shorter work week to give yourself exploration time.

    In most companies, you can still get full benefits by working 32 hours a week, or four days. Many people are unwilling to even ask for a change in schedule, but it can be to the company’s advantage to be flexible in this way. Another option is to negotiate to work four 10-hour days, or four 9-hour days and one half-day. Do whatever you can to make a little clear time in your work schedule and then use that time to gain momentum in your new direction.

    4. Volunteer to acquire new skills or learn your way around a new field.

    Being on the board of a local non-profit, ushering at a theater, writing grants for a cause you’re passionate about, or participating in a professional organization are all ways to gain experience and connections that can help you make the switch into a new field. Be straightforward up front about what you want to learn, and set boundaries about the kind of work you’re willing to take on so that it serves you and the organization you’re volunteering for. Investigate the volunteer opportunity as thoroughly as you would check out a potential employer so you don’t get drained by a dysfunctional situation.

    5. Take advantage of free or low-cost learning.

    Professional organizations and boards both provide great opportunities for learning at low or no cost. Depending on your community and your interests, there are also likely to be community ed classes, introductory seminars, professional conferences, and other low-cost entry points for learning a new field. In my city, for example, several local non-proft support organizations offer brown-bag lunches, courses, and other formal learning opportunities essentially for free for people who are interested in working in nonprofit organizations.

    6. Find or create community and networks around your interests.

    Talk to everyone you meet about your dream. You’ll be amazed at the connections that will emerge. Go on informational interviews. Take people out to coffee or lunch. And be sure to give it out, too—provide information and resources to other people where you can. You can do this in person or online through sites like LinkedIn or Facebook. Think of this process as making friends and acquaintances and growing your community. Follow up on every appealing connection even if you don’t know where it will lead.

    7. Show up for new experiences.

    You never know where inspiration, momentum, and energy will come from. Be willing to take risks, try new things, show up for events that seem intriguing. Some will feed you and some will fail you—that’s part of the process—but every one will give you more information about what works, what doesn’t work, what you want, where you are.

    8. Acknowledge your fear and uncertainty, and don’t let them stop you.

    Big change scares everyone. There’s no point in pretending we’re not afraid or anxious—that just saps our energy. The mistake we make is thinking that being afraid means we’re on the wrong path. Often, the most terrifying change is the right one. I think of a local Zen teacher who says that she tries to move in the direction of the most fear and resistance—because that’s where the good stuff is. Only you know when fear means it’s time to back off or that you’re on the wrong path. Only you know how much uncertainty you can tolerate. There’s no point in terrifying yourself into paralysis—but don’t let your fear keep you from moving forward, either.

    Here’s one thing I know for sure: You don't have to blow your life up to start moving in the direction of your dreams. (Unless you want to, of course!) You just have to start taking little steps and be willing to tolerate some uncertainty, some risk, and some fear. Only you know what those steps are, and how much anxiety is tolerable—those are individual questions. But I am completely convinced that those opportunities exist for you.

    Dora

    Hi Carol,

    Amongst many others, I just wanted to let you know that your blog, and in particular, this post of yours and the replies in this comments section played a big part in what I've just done in the past 2 weeks. And I wanted to thank you and Beth for it.

    After months and months of building up courage, I've finally quit my job. And I've gotten a working holiday visa to the UK. In November, I will be flying to London on a one-way ticket.

    I'm not sure what'll happen next but I figure worst comes to worst, I'll just come back to Hong Kong and get a another job. I'm scared and excited at the same time. I can't wait to leave!

    My friends envy me, because this is what they've always wanted to do, but can't/won't. To give up career, security, family, familiarity to set out somewhere you want to be.

    I may be leaving lots behind, but like your friend says, I think the best days are ahead.

    Thank you Thank you Thank you.

    Carol Ross

    Hi Dora,

    I'm deeply touched by your words. It makes me realize the power of intention. I have no doubt that this will be an inflection point in your journey--one where you can look back and see the impact of being true to yourself. Enjoy the adventure. Life, no matter where it takes us, is a mysterious ride.

    Beth

    Wow, Dora. I have chills reading your post. What courage and steadfastness to take that leap halfway around the world. Blessings on your journey. I know you will shine.

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