I contemplated it for years, spending day after day walking from the train station to the office thinking about different ways to satisfy the vocational hole being burned into my soul until finally I took a leap of faith and hit send on my resignation letter. Almost instantly I felt a huge weight being lifted but simultaneously a dark cloud of uncertainty and doubt casting over me. There were many drivers behind my decision to leave from wanting to explore the creative world, to being in a position with more strategic responsibility all while having the luxury of spending extra time on myself. But, what exactly was my plan?
I didn’t have all the answers so I started with the immediate task at hand, one that I now had more time for – dinner. On the first day of my leave, I learned to cook the most decadent 20 minute mushroom risotto and once my family was fed and I was overcome with a sense of accomplishment, I hit the ground running.
I opened my virtual black book and began connecting with every person I had ever met over the course of my career. I left my ego at the door and asked for help, advice, opportunities and meetings. I reached out and, thankfully, many reached back. I received words of encouragement, inspiration and in one particular instance, my first gig followed by a job interview that led to future contractual work.
Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing and more often than not, people will choose the road most travelled in exchange for peace of mind and stability. Unfortunately, that usually comes at the expense of mental and physical well being. I didn’t spend the year landing my dream job, or breaking into the creative world as a recognized writer (there’s still time for that), but I did gain valuable experience in different areas, worked as a consultant for diverse companies and even volunteered my time for a worthy cause. I landed contracts from sheer networking and my ability to sell myself and my vision, a skill I didn’t think I had a year ago.
Many of us stay in the same position for years sacrificing motivation, education and fulfillment. It took some time and a substantial pay cut, but I finally realized that the professional world is a place where you can be adventurous and take risks if your financial situation allows you to do so. I may have dropped a few dollars in revenue every month but I’ve learned more about myself in the last year than I had over the past 8, and frankly, you can put a price on that…or my mushroom risotto!
I still have a long way to go but so far, no regrets.