Leaving Corporate America and Starting Anew
The only thing that can prepare you for quitting your job and starting anew is a strong desire and a firm conviction that you are taking necessary steps towards your desired future.
While there isn’t a single prescriptive path one should take when leaving their job, here are some insights from my personal journey… my decision to leave an executive position to take that next step in my career and life.
The first thing I did was to begin by attempting to answer the following question: “What is it that I really, really want?” And so my journey began.
A year ago, I found it difficult to answer that question and my struggle propelled me to look inward. I figured if I hadn’t stopped in the past ten years to take inventory of whether I was really happy or not, I wasn’t suddenly going to do so on my own. So, I opted to embark on the journey with the help of an executive coach, through a journal-based coaching program. I journaled every day throughout the 10-week program, and had weekly calls with my coach.
Through the process of journaling, I peeled back one layer at a time. I monitored my mood, articulated my beliefs, and established priorities for myself and my relationships. Each week the coaching process provided a forum for me to delve deeper and deeper into who I had become… and decide whether this person was in alignment with my values, my wants and my needs.
What I quickly realized was that I was not leading a life that I had intended to live. I had managed to get sucked into the monotony and habitual patterns of a life without reflection. I had given up a healthy, well-rounded life… an easy pattern many fall into.
It dawned on me that the reason I had stayed in Corporate America for so long was because I was fearful that I couldn’t make it on my own. As a mother of four kids, stepping away from a seemingly fruitful career always felt like an impossible decision until I started examining how far out of alignment my life had become in comparison with what I actually valued. Moreover, once I managed to shift a long-held and simply untrue belief that financial well-being and running my own business were mutually exclusive, I was able to free up my thinking and move forward.
At work, I had found myself increasingly caught in the middle of values-based battles within the corporate enterprise, each time losing a bit more of my soul and becoming personally and spiritually depleted. It took my going through the full 10 weeks of intensive coaching, and having my coach stand solidly in my court believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself, to muster the courage to walk away from a six figure job that wasn’t fulfilling.
In those 10 weeks, I learned the tools and strategies that have ended up being indispensable to me on my journey, things that are at once simple and yet profound:
1. Your results are a function of your thinking and your beliefs
2. You’re responsible for your own experience
3. The way you feel is a direct reflection of your thoughts and perspectives
4. Changing others isn’t an option; changing your mind is
5. What you focus on grows (negatively or positively)
The final strategy that I take with me is that we are not our thoughts; however, our thoughts ultimately lay the foundation for the results we get.
Taking the leap was huge for me, but it has proven to be a decision well worthwhile. I had a mistaken belief that I couldn’t support my family and enjoy my life at the same time. Fear is borne from a powerful thought pattern that silently creeps in and takes up residence in the recesses of our experience. It can get in the way of us living the lives we were meant to live.
Had I not stopped long enough to really look at my life and decide whether I was living up to my own expectations, I would probably still be stuck. Instead, I have stepped off of one path and onto another, bringing my insights from the coaching experience along with me. I continue to journal regularly. It provides an outlet for me, in which to examine my thinking and to ensure that I am not somehow intentionally or unintentionally sabotaging my own happiness. Journaling allows me to refine and articulate my goals on a continuous and regular basis.
I would challenge everyone to ask the simple questions, to contemplate whether you are in fact living in alignment with your values and pushing towards what is meaningful. Start by asking and answering the question, “What do I really, really want?” That is the first step on the path to a well-considered life.
What are your next steps?
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