Today’s guest contributor is Farnoosh Brock. Farnoosh writes about smart habits for rich living with focus on smart communications, smart travel, smart living and smart entrepreneurship. She can be found at Prolific Living.
You do not learn your own true tolerance for risk and your real appetite for courage until you put them to test.
I put mine to test on April 15th. It turns out I had highly underestimated myself on both fronts.
I had an easy job in a Fortune 500 company. Not only an easy one, but a lucrative one amounting to a nice 6-figure income, which I earned while working from home – often in my favorite yoga clothes and usually in between yoga poses and frequent tea breaks! A job with health benefits and stock options, bonuses and perks, paid travel expenses and tech gadgets; even if things were in worse shape in the recent years, relatively speaking, I had it “good”, as others never missed an opportunity to remind me.
So trust me when I tell you that even after I had lost my ridiculous desire to rise to the top as a next generation company leader, I had no real intention of giving it all up anytime soon.
Someone asked me recently how I was able to detach so easily from the corporate politics, the gossip and the stress of it all and my simple answer is that you just do when you are no longer vesting your future in your company. The day that you give up your aspirations to build that future there and start treating your career just as a job is the day that you free yourself from all the “noise” that goes on anywhere outside your main responsibility.
I did the job; I earned the paycheck. That was my story. There is no point denying it; during my last year at my job, I was there only for my beloved sweet paycheck.
Lest there be any misunderstanding, my work ethic has always been high and my performance at the time of my resignation was one of the best. So I do not advocate becoming one of those many “bums” in the organization who get a paycheck week after week and create no value and make no contribution. Please do not resort to that path; it is the path of cynics and quitters.
Do the job that you are asked to do and do it well or else stop doing it altogether by leaving.
In my case, I did my job and I did it well but oh was I never challenged.
No matter how many times I changed positions and moved around, after initial learning curve was gone, I was bored out of my mind. A job that would take someone else hours often took me minutes.
With a restless mind, a starving heart for knowledge and a desperate desire to do something meaningful with my life, I had way too much energy and room to grow, to explore, to learn, to dream and to build a plan for those dreams. That is why I turned a corner in the corporate world. That is how my blog came about over two years ago. That is how I seriously pursued world travel, photography, yoga, writing, reading, blogging, health habits, cycling, and explorations in social media and the blogosphere community.
Ah but why give up such a sweet deal if life was so good and if I seemed to have it all?
My parents and my in-laws have been wondering this question the most. Worry not, I shall explain (as I nearly pulled my hair explaining to them a dozen times but a different story there.)
First, what was brewing on the inside: Ever since the October 2010 Blogworld in Las Vegas, I had become unbearably anxious to focus exclusively on my passions – blogging being the main one but far from the only one. I wanted to create services and products around helping people build smart habits. I wanted to start a podcast – or several. I wanted to build a public speaking platform for my message. I wanted to write and write for hours on end, uninterrupted and undisturbed. I wanted to start my own business and do things my way.
Most of all, I wanted to own all my minutes and choose what to do with every single one of them.
And you know what? I came to believe that when your mind is preoccupied with stress-induced responsibilities and work that you neither like nor find satisfying, you simply cannot give your all and your very best shot to anything else in life.
When a critical component such as mindfulness is absent, you will struggle reaching your true potential. And your dreams and aspirations deserve nothing less than your true potential.
Yet, I loved my paycheck and it was terrifying to walk away from it all without having set my backup plans fully in motion. But sometimes destiny throws you an embrace – or a slap. Either way, it seems to work out just fine.
One day, through a quick turn of events, I was put in a difficult position at work and was asked to make a hard decision. My options did not look good. Integrity showed up and made it a very easy choice; I decided to walk away from it all. In one quick minute, I was done, I was finished, I had had enough and no force of nature – or parental and brotherly advice – was going to stop me from quitting right then and there.
I resigned on April 15th. No turning back. Not once. Not for a split second.
So I recounted the last leg of my corporate journey – it’s full of drama and it makes for a good story but in real perspective, I was in that world for nearly 12 years and I would be remiss if I did not share with you my honest thoughts especially if you are thinking of making these huge and scary transitions in your life.
First, please set aside what everyone else in your life thinks you should do – deep in your heart, you always – always – know the right decision. No one needs to reaffirm it for you.
Then answer these 8 questions if you are on the fence and have doubts about what to do. They can help uncover the best course and the right timing for you.
What is your …
- … real and uncensored reason for needing a change? Why do you want to leave your current situation? Being miserable is a good answer but not nearly enough reason. Do you have a compelling desire to do something on your own? Is there another industry that is calling your name? Can you articulate on all the exact reasons you are unhappy and take an educated guess as to where you may find some semblance of happiness? You must come clear on your reasons before even staring your exit strategy.
- … internal state of unrest? Do you even have an internal state of unrest and turmoil? Are you losing sleep and peace of mind day in and day out? Can you accurately attribute this feeling to your work and are you sure it is based on real issues, not transitory ones, or based on circumstances that are outside of your control? Try to measure your internal sense of urgency.
- … financial comfort zone? What are your current financial obligations and responsibilities? Do you have a lot of savings and little debt? Are you in the habit of spending money on a lot of stuff? Most of all, if need be, can you easily shift your current comfort zone and are you willing to make the life changes that require this shift? Be really clear about what you are willing to forgo and realistic how that may impact your current state of happiness.
- … tolerance for the unknown? If you do not have a solid plan, you will face a certain level of unknown on the road. Are you comfortable with not knowing what may happen for the foreseeable future? Can you hone into a mindset that will push through and thrive, no matter how unpredictable the road may be? Or do you need more information and certainty before taking the leap? It takes knowing yourself to correctly answer these questions.
- … appetite for risk? Do you need a position in another organization or are you made for entrepreneurship? Can you feel empowered by the idea of working by yourself for days and weeks if need be? Are you a starter or a follower? Do you enjoy creating your own new process, products, and services? Do you enjoy taking ideas from inception to reality? Entrepreneurship may or may not be right for you. You need to figure this out for yourself.
- … self-discipline on working for yourself? Do you like being in charge of your own days? Can you muster enough discipline and structure to do the work that needs to be done, to delegate when need be, and to make room for creativity as needed? Can you decide what is a distraction and what is real work and how to distribute your limited time amongst them? Think about how you have worked in the past and when you were most productive – was it on self-driven projects or were you a part of a group project?
- … depth of patience around cash flow and income? If you were to earn enough to cover two meals a month for 6 months, would you be ok? If your first product sold 7 copies instead of 700, would you despair? If your first book did not fly, would you lose heart? How deep is your patience and how tightly do you define success with income? Knowing your relationship and attachment to money and owning up to the reality of it is the key here.
- … truth? Yes, I mean your truth? What matters the most to you in your work – and your life? Is it the money? Is it the excitement from a position of authority and power in a firm or corporation? Is it the comfort and the security provided by an established entity? Is it the feeling of contribution to a bigger cause and mission? Is it the sense of belonging to a community? Or is it a compelling desire to do something entirely your own, regardless of the cost and the results? It takes knowing yourself to know your truth and it comes down to you and only you to discover this before you pave the right path for you.
Whatever you end up doing, be true to yourself. The rest will fall into place.
Farnoosh Brock left a 12-year career at a Fortune 500 in IT and engineering for her pursuits in writing, public speaking, coaching, podcasting, blogging and social media. She talks about smart habits for rich living with focus on smart communications, smart travel, smart living and smart entrepreneurship. She can be found at Prolific Living.
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