how to quit your job – 5 steps

If you want to quit your job, you are like a staggering number of people in America today. CBS News recently reported that only 45% of US workers find their jobs satisfying. And that’s lowest rate ever recorded in the 22 years they’ve been studying the issue.

If you aren’t happy at your job, why not take the plunge? Yes, there are risks. Yes, it can be scary. But quitting your job to pursue something that makes you happier and more fulfilled is never riskier and scarier than the alternative: remaining stuck a mindless cycle of dreading every day and complaining over a tub of ice cream or a bottle of wine every night.

I quit my job and lived to tell the tale. I worked as a grouchy office assistant for many boring years and it made me want to commit mass murder. I was the ugliest version of myself when I worked at that job. I was dismissive, short-tempered, difficult and I loved rolling my eyes behind people’s backs. (Okay, I still do that.)

Now, 7 months after quitting, I’m happier and more hopeful than I’ve been in years. I might even be a little smarter too. I’m not an expert, I’m just someone who’s been through it and come out thriving on the other side.

The list I’m about to share might seem simple. That’s on purpose. No matter what we may have been led to believe by maybe our parents, our culture, or our bank accounts, quitting your job is simple.

Scary? Risky? Non-traditional? Maybe.

Rocket science? Absolutely not.

Here’s how I did it:

1. Decide WHY. I knew I felt unhappy at my job, but I had to determine exactly why, or I wouldn’t know what I was aiming to fix.

Start by asking yourself why you don’t like the work you do. Is it the people? The atmosphere? The work itself? Is it you? Are you making the situation worse than it is?

Be honest and specific. Make sure you truly know why you want to quit.

2. Decide WHAT. What next? New office? Home office? New career entirely? New city? Decide what you want out of your new lifestyle. If you already know what you want to do – great! You’re well on your way.

For some people, deciding what’s next is the hardest part. Just remember, it doesn’t have to happen right away. Spend some time paying attention to details about yourself that you might not always consider. Like, do you like walking to work? Do you mind commuting? Do you want to work with people, or by yourself? Ask friends and family to tell you where they think your strengths lie. There’s information in those details. Take the time to figure it out.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do next when I set out to quit. I knew I wanted to work for myself, have more control over my own schedule, feel creative, productive and active. It took me about a year to mold that into a career direction. Once I quit my job, I ended up opening an online bakery, becoming a freelance writer and focusing more on my comedy career. And I’m still growing and changing all the time.

3. Decide WHEN. Give yourself a goal date. This helped me tremendously. When I was 27 years old I promised myself that I would quit my desk job by the time I turned 29. When that date rolled around a year and a half later, I briefly considered NOT quitting yet – maybe I could save more money, maybe it wasn’t the right time?

Ultimately, though, I knew I owed it to myself meet the deadline I’d set. When I really thought about it, a new reality was already within reach…so why not go for it? It was the right move. It got me out of a job that I could have stayed in my whole life.

What will it take to get to the next step? Classes? Networking with a new group of people? Delving deeper into a hobby to discover how you might be paid to do what you love? Determine what smaller steps you’ll need to take between now and then. Then set a deadline and commit to it.

4. Save money. From the moment you decide you want to quit your job – in fact, even if it’s just an inkling in the back of your mind – start saving money. Check out my article “10 ways to save for a desk job escape,” which I wrote a few weeks before I quit. Cut corners when you can and trust that you are building an essential nest egg to help fuel your journey outta the doldrums.

My savings was account one of the best things I did for myself. I was able to pull in new income shortly after my desk job ended, but I needed that savings to float me through a few tough months later on and to make ends meet along the way. I was really amazed at how far it took me.

5. Commit to yourself. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. If you want to quit your job, only your commitment to doing so will make it possible. People who decide to change their lives actively change them, they don’t sit around waiting for it to happen. Lay the traps, write the plans, shake off the fear, bide your time – yes. But after that time is up, take action. There will definitely be days when it feels like a big mistake, the wrong decision, the path of most resistance. On those days, return to the WHY and the WHAT to strengthen your resolve.

You’ll never know what can be if you don’t follow your bliss. Go for it.

Advertisements

in which I stand up for myself

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize that I’m STILL not working at that desk job anymore, that over four months have passed since I walked out of that office for the last time, and that they have been filled with successes, failures, and everything in between. But I’m still standing, and I’m not eating beans out of a can for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Just dinner.) Hallelujah.

Quitting that job and making a decision to move forward with my life, despite the predictable obstacles, has been an interesting learning experience in many ways. And many of them, I’ve chronicled for you all here. That’s why I started this blog to begin with – to share with you, the reader, the story of this journey as it unfolded.

I received my first critical comment from a reader yesterday. Generally, a good life tactic is to ignore the bullies on the playground, rather than bring them center stage and offer them a moment of your time or energy. But the woman, Joni, who left me this critical comment wasn’t a bully. She was just, as she pointed out, stating her observation. That’s fair. I state dozens of observations every day on this blog. She’s entitled her to opinion.

Her comment was this: “you are not half as interesting as you were before you quit your job. sorry, not trying to be mean, just an observation.”

Thank you for your observation, Joni. I appreciate it because it’s given me something interesting to write about here. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around people who leave critical comments on other people’s internets, because it’s not something I can bring myself to do even when I feel the impulse, but that’s every person’s right to decide for herself. (It’s also the subject of a different blog entry.) Joni’s made a decision in her life to be someone who leaves her honest opinion in the form of comments on blogs that she reads. It’s a free country, as we used to say in the 5th grade, and she’s welcome to do what she pleases. (Remember when we all began to grasp that concept and ran around on the playground yelling at each other, “IT’S A FREE COUNTRY.” That ruled.)

So to Joni’s comment, I will say this: She’s probably right. I’m sure this blog isn’t nearly as interesting as it was before I quit working at that lonely office. I don’t plan to do anything to change that, but I hear her feedback. When I first started writing here, this blog kept me sane. At the time, I was unhappy, unchallenged, unfocused, discontent and getting angrier every day about feeling stuck in that job as I barreled toward age 30 without a “real” career to call my own. All that internal conflict is inherently interesting to an outside observer. That’s why plays are written and movies are made. Conflict is fascinating. And let us all be glad that I had the foresight to start a blog during that difficult time, so that I could share with you all, and more specifically, with Joni, the conflict I was feeling.

I don’t feel such malcontent anymore. And the things I do feel don’t always make it onto the blog. I wasn’t quite sure how my relationship with the internet would change once I quit working at a desk all day long, once I found something to do with my days that made me feel happier, but now I know that as much as I love keeping up this blog, checking facebook and twitter, reading other blogs and gossip sites and watching funny videos that my friends make, I just don’t have the desire or the means to do it all day long like I used to. Standing in the kitchen baking sweets for hours on end doesn’t exactly lend itself to regular time spent on the computer. And I’m okay with that. I hope my readers can be okay with it too.

People, in general, are drawn to one another’s sorrow and pain. I know I am. I enjoy reading someone’s blog when they’re going through a hard time. Yes. Enjoy. Not because I want that person to suffer, but because there’s nothing more real than someone finding the right words to express what they’re going through, and there are few things more to which I can relate than hearing about someone’s challenges. And it’s even more inspiring to watch that person process through their pain and find a way to the other side of it. Will I keep reading their blog once they’re happy and well again? Probably. Will everyone else? Maybe not. We’re all entitled to our own opinions.

I will say that we, as blog readers, might consider being willing to let the subjects of our voyeurism grow and change and morph into more than the stories they tell. There will always be another sob story right around the corner to satisfy our needs, another hero or heroine to champion as they share with us the journey they’re on. But someday (hopefully) the protagonist of that story too will lose the weight or quit the job or leave the relationship or take the risk that they’ve been writing about from the beginning. That’s the beauty of the human spirit, and that’s the path that every journey ultimately takes: it changes, it grows, there are successes and failures. Perhaps unfortunately for those of us who are witnessing the story’s unfolding, the person traversing that path can’t slow it down or change it just for us and our entertainment. They have to travel along without concern for who’s watching. Kind of like real (non-internet) life.

Back in late December, a few members of my family with whom I’m not terribly close, decided they didn’t like some of the things I’ve written on this blog. They indirectly asked me to stop writing things that “might upset the extended family.”  I use the word ‘indirectly,’ because they didn’t approach me themselves, they asked someone else do it on their behalf. I wish, for a dozen reasons, that they could have found the courage to speak to me themselves, because I think it would have netted a different result all-around. But we’re all fallible and we all do what we can, to the best of our ability, to communicate our needs to the people in our lives. It’s never easy.

When that situation happened, I wavered back and forth between writing about it in great detail, to never mentioning it all on the blog. I certainly don’t write the things I write here to hurt anyone, to cause drama, or to make anyone jealous. And I do always intend to write with a generous spirit, recognizing that people have a right to their privacy, and recognizing that my feelings are just the feelings of one girl, and not reflective of the collective experience of the world. (Maybe I shouldn’t have assumed that everyone else already knew that.)

But I’ve decided to avoid being silenced, in any way. I, quite simply, refuse that notion. And so I’m writing about my experience. Come find me if you don’t like it.

Reading Joni’s comment yesterday reminded me how I felt in the days after my family situation occurred. I don’t write this blog for anyone one person. And I won’t be changing it for anyone, nor will I be making it more interesting, less interesting, more controversial or less, more personal or less. Not for anyone. And none of that is an act of defiance, or rebellion, or an act of sending a virtual middle finger in anyone’s direction. It’s actually, very purely, an act of self-love. And act of self-preservation. And a personal decision that I’ve made about how to be an adult person. Also, no one has to read here if they don’t wanna. Isn’t that the most delicious part of life? If I like to drink beer and you don’t, we both win. If I like to live in New York and you like to live in Japan, we can both be happy. If I am a writer, and you are not, if I express myself one way, and you another, everybody’s good. We are all individuals.

Some of you may know this and some of you may not, but I had a very difficult time being a functional human being between the ages of 18-21. Those are hard years for many people, scary years when things are uncertain and when our personalities are still being formed, for better or worse. For me, those were the darkest years I’ll probably ever know. I lived through excruciating mental and physical pain, and caused the people close to me a great deal of agony as well.

As sad and sorry as I am that I went through that, that I or anyone else had to feel pain during that time, I’d never undo it. I bet you wouldn’t either, if you were me. I am proud that those years shaped who I am. I am grateful to my strong mind and open heart that I was able to get through that time. It has taught me that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. It’s what allowed me to know I would be able to quit my job and succeed in whatever came next. And it will continue to fuel me positively for the rest of my life. Overcoming challenge will do that.

Of all the things I learned through those years and the harrowing experiences that came with them, the most important thing I learned, the thing that has stuck with me and informed me the most, is that You must take care of you first. You are often your worst critic, but you also have the capacity to be your greatest cheerleader. And if you let anyone else tell you who to be, how to think, what to create, or what you need to do with your life so that their lives are better, you will be unhappy and you will feel trapped. There’s a difference between being generous and being a doormat.

If you ever let anyone else tell your story for you, if you let other people define what you’ve been through, where you’re going, or how you get there, if you let the judgment that other people will inevitably fling at you, because their own insecurities are so great that they can’t feel good about themselves unless they’re judging others, you will never find peace. Peace, as we’re all well aware by now, comes from within. Not from casting judgment, nor from wearing the judgment that is cast in your direction.

So thank you to all the voices of dissension in my life, past, present and those yet to come, who, through my desire to avoid following their example, have taught me that all we can do is move through life doing the best that we can. All we can do is keep our hearts open and filled with love, focus on our own journey, and keep our minds searching for the path to empathy.

update

It’s busy season again! Not a bad thing at all, but it’s busy. It’s nice to see how much we learned from the Christmas rush, and how this Valentine’s season is made simpler because of that. I’ve gotten much better at scheduling what needs to be done, prioritizing, and being realistic about time frames. It takes time to bake stuff, you guys.

I feel like I have nothing in the world to write about right now except the 30 Day Y0ga Challenge and the bakery. Because in many ways that’s all I have going on. It’s simple and lovely, in a way.

The cold weather is killing me – I can write about that for a few sentences.

I cannot wait for the summer. I daydream about it every day. And I daydream about this time next year when Kevin and I are just returning from having spent the month of January in a warm, tropical location. Big dream, right? I figure if I set out to leave my job LAST January and I made that a full-fledged reality by THIS January, what can I do by NEXT January? “Live somewhere warm for one month in the winter” seems like as good of a goal as any.

My shoulder is so much better – not perfect, but healing. Yoga is wonderful and hard and I’m so glad I’m doing this challenge. I’ve lost track of what day I’m on – somewhere close to Day 20. My arms feel thinner, my legs feel slimmer, my waist feels firmer, and mentally I feel much more balanced. I’m going to be sad when it’s over – and maybe also a little bit relieved. 30 days is a long time! But I’m loving it. This was an awesome gift to give to myself.

I’m also hanging out with an insightful and spirited four-year-old for two hours every Tuesday and Friday lately. He’s a fantastic dose of realism in my world. Geoff and Jenny, his parents, have done a phenomenal job with this little guy.

The other day I was telling him that I hurt my shoulder some how, that it was bothering me. He asked me how I hurt it. I explained that I wasn’t really sure how I hurt it.

He said, “I know! You hurt it when you were exercising! You fell down.”

Maybe, I said. And then I explained to him that when you’re older, when you’re a grown-up, your body sometimes aches more often than it does when you’re a kid. That grown-ups fall down and are sore for a few days, while little kids can fall down, on the playground for example, and bounce right back up. Little kids bodies are made that way, I told him.

He said, “Well. I guess it’s a lot more fun to be a kid than to be a grown-up.” Of course, I had to laugh out loud and tell him, “You might be right.”

Oh, one more thing. I wanted to tell you all that, more than ever before, I keep having these moments recently where I realize that I quit my job and haven’t worked there for almost a third of a year now – and I’ve survived! And I’m happy and enjoying what I’m doing! I don’t know what’s around the next corner – I really haven’t a single clue – but do we ever really? And I’m still absolutely loving my new life. It’s so much simpler and more my style. The other day I spent the day baking, and then I headed into the city around 5:30pm for a rehearsal. I realized that I used to be sitting at my desk at 5:30pm, wouldn’t have been able to make it to that rehearsal, didn’t get out of work until 7pm.

Leaving that job, as beneficial as it was for my bank account and my health insurance policy-holding status (I know, Mom. I know.), remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

day five (!) and a story

Today’s Day Five of my 30-day yoga challenge. I realized today that 30 days is a long time! Relatively speaking, of course. I’m still completely committed to doing this, I’m just coming to grips with exactly what I’ve committed to.

So far, it’s still great. I’m a little sore, but I still look forward to being on that mat every day and I’m grateful to have the time and space in my life to do this for 30 days straight. Just, uhhh, 25 more days to go! I’m not sure I’ve ever even done yoga for seven days in a row, so there will be lots of little milestones along the way here.

An interesting thing happened to me yesterday evening after I left my Gentle Flow class.

I was sitting upstairs at the Whole Foods in Union Square eating Indian Food and checking twitter on my blackberry. An older man who’d been sitting across from me a few seats down the table, who I’d happened to notice a couple times throughout my meal because he’d made a few business phone calls that I could overhear, said to me completely out of the blue, “How’s your writing?”

I laughed, almost out of surprise I guess, and then I said, “What?”

He said, “How’s your writing?”

“Why are you asking me that?” Instantly, I assumed he was trying to sell me something, or get me to do something for him. But I was also surprised to find myself intrigued. A lot of weirdo people ask you a lot of weirdo questions in New York City. It’s standard practice to ignore or diffuse immediately. But I sort of wanted this conversation to continue.

He said, “I can tell you’re a writer.”

“Why do you think that?” I asked. I guess I looked a little casual, my hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail and I was wearing a plain brown sweater, no jewelry, no make-up.

“I can just tell. It isn’t hard to tell. You’re creative. You have a creative energy about you. Someone who is, for example, in finance, has a different energy. Creative people are confident, at ease, peaceful. You seem to be open to the world around you. Someone who might work in a different sort of industry like finance or something, there’s a lot of pretense there, they sometimes seem like they’re trying to tell the world something. But artists aren’t like that. They’re open. Taking it all in.”

And so our conversation had begun.

It was hard for me to let go of the idea that he was trying to trick me. At one point, while immersed in our chat, I caught myself and reached back to check my bag which was hanging on my chair. Maybe this was all a distraction while his partner rifled through my stuff. Another long-since honed knee-jerk reaction for which I have the Big City to thank.

Nope. The bag was intact.

“That’s true about artists. I guess you’re right about that,” I told him cautiously. I was surprised by his insight. I knew what he was saying wasn’t rocket science, but I was moved that he felt compelled to share his thoughts with me.

“So are you a writer?”

“No,” I answered after thinking for a moment, knowing I was telling a bit of a lie.

“Well, then, what do you do?”

I was surprised again when, “I….I’m…well, I’m an actor, I guess. I perform comedy,” flew out of my mouth. “And I’ve opened…I have…I own a bakery,” I added, wondering how this all might be figuring together in his mind and noticing how still unfamiliar it was to hear myself say something other than, “I work at a law firm.”

“So you’re a performance artist?” he said. “Sure, I can see that. I knew you were creative. You can just tell. Where is your bakery?”

“We don’t have a storefront yet. We’re online and we have wholesale accounts,”

“Ohh, online, that’s excellent. You could make a killing doing that.”

“I hope so.”

And then he told me the story of Famous Amos, you know, from Famous Amos cookies. He said that Famous Amos didn’t even have an oven when he started out. He used his aunt’s oven. And he’d bake cookies for people in the neighborhood, in Harlem. One day he noticed that people asked him for his cookies before they even said hello to him. So he started charging people for them. Next thing anybody knew, his cookies were in Bloomingdales and on supermarket shelves.

“Plus, you live in New York City,” he said. “There are millions of people willing to spend money here.”

Again, “I hope so.”

“So you have something you love to do, something that brings you joy, and you also support yourself by being the captain of your own ship. There’s nothing better than that.”

“You’re right,” I said, nodding. “I’ve never been happier in my adult life.”

“You can succeed if you love it and you want it. You will be very successful.”

“I hope so.”

“The thing about artists is that we, the rest of the world, needs you. We go to see musicals, plays, concerts, because we have to get out of our daily routines, break out of our lives for a moment and escape. And you all provide us with that. If somebody spent an entire year never doing that stuff, never seeing music or art or experiencing the creative arts, they’d go nuts. You have to experience that raw joy.”

I just nodded and smiled and nodded. “Yes, absolutely. Yes. I guess you’re right.”

Sometimes, in a city full of so many artists, actors, musicians, writers, sculptors, painters, t-shirt screeners, mimes, clowns, singers, dancers, graffiti artists, and stand-up comedians, it’s easy to forget that there’s an entire population of people who don’t do that stuff for a living, or who don’t even do it on the side for fun.

“So you’re not a writer?”

“Well, I do write. I guess I do, yes. I don’t do it for a living. I probably will someday. I…I think I -”

“You’re probably very good at it,” he interrupted. I’d stammered through half of our conversation, something that rarely happens to me, so I’m not sure why he assumed so.

“I hope so… What’s your name?” I asked him.

“Ian,” he said. And we shook hands and I said my name.

“You take good care of yourself, too,” he said. “I can tell. You drink a lot of water. I can tell.”

“I just started a 30-day yoga challenge. Maybe that has something to do with it.”

Laughing, he said, “Maybe.”

And then it was time for me to leave. I had to get to my comedy show. I told him goodbye and that it was nice to meet him, that I hoped he had a nice evening. He told me to do the same.

I did not stop grinning for ten minutes.

Sometimes life gives you little signs and sometimes it gives you great big ones. Don’t be afraid to notice them. It doesn’t matter why they’ve occurred – divine intervention or just dumb coincidence. You’ll never know why. So it’s up to you if you choose believe they have meaning. It’s up to you to decide that they’re telling you you’re on the right path, and that they are meant to light the way in front of you.

there’s no right way

Jen 1484

My life post-desk-job is still going really well. I’m starting to feel a bit more settled, like things are falling into place and everything isn’t so new and strange. I’m growing more accustomed to having vast expanses of daylight to fill however I choose. And I’m learning more and more about how to best fill them so that I feel like I did more than watch murder mystery shows all day long. (That was only one day, to be fair, but I think I watched – oh – 12 hours worth? I’m obsessed with the stories of true crimes. I also, no joke, check the closet at night for a killer who’s potentially hiding out until I go to bed. He probably slipped in sometime in the afternoon, and has decided to wait patiently until I least suspect him. Well THE JOKE’S ON HIM. I always suspect him.)

We’ve been getting more Fanny & Jane orders in than ever before (thank you to anyone who has placed an order!!!) and it’s wonderful. Our online shop is up and running and I’m incredibly proud of how far we’ve come. I’m having a great time learning how to operate this small business – and I’m reminded that I’m good at this! There’s still so much to learn and so many things I want to do for the business, and I want to do them all yesterday, but all in good time, grasshopper.

Jen 1356

It seems this bakery will provide me the bulk of my “work” until after the holidays, which is so fantastic. I’m excited to put energy toward other aspects of my life too, but I definitely don’t mind focusing on this right now. The holidays are my favorite time of year.

Faryn’s neck-deep in her own full time desk job right now, one that she enjoys (yay!), so I’m taking the reins and handling most of the orders we get over the season. I enjoy the work a lot and I feel really productive running our little operation. Plus, the baking, the emailing, the deliveries, the trips to the post office – they’re all completely pleasant ways to spend my time, and I have to remind myself that this is part of my job now. Not just something I’m doing in my free time so that I can return to my desk job after my lunch break is over. HALLELUJAH. Can’t believe I’m here.

In December, I got a tattoo while Kevin and I were vacationing in Florida with my mom, stepdad and aunt. It simply says, “Be.” with a period after it, and it’s in my handwriting, which I love. The reason I got this particular tattoo, aside from the fact that we were at the tattoo parlor and I just had to get something, is because I had been standing on the beach a few days earlier, staring out at the ocean, and suddenly the word “Be” flew into my mind when I found myself worrying about time. I guess I was battling some low level anxiety at the time, my brain working constantly, whirring and racing to obsess about time and how I was spending my time and how I was filling that vacation, and how I would fill the time when I got back to New York, and what I would do today and what time is it.

Jen 811

It’s a pattern of mine, mild really, but still something I could do without. And I’ve noticed that this particular challenge is something I face a lot. I mildly obsess over time. If I wake up at 10am, putter around on the computer, and it’s suddenly 12noon, I will sit and stare off into space for a couple minutes thinking about how I spent these last two hours, and if that was good enough. Then, I will go for a run, wishing I’d gone earlier in the day, and thinking a lot during my workout about whether or not this is the best time of day to be exercising, and if I will have enough time when I get home to cross more items off my To Do list. This goes on and on until it’s time for bed and I spend a few minutes thinking about obsessing over how I’m going to spend my time tomorrow.

TIME. It’s so not worth my energy to be giving it so much attention.

It’s obsessive thinking, is what it is. I’ve always done it, since childhood, sometimes more, sometimes less. And so I got the word Be. tattooed in the crook of my right arm, right where I can see it and use it, hopefully, as a reminder to relax when I feel myself starting to fixate. It’s a reminder to let time pass as it will, and Be here in the present moment, rather than worrying if I have spent or will spend the time before and after this moment in the “right” way.

There is no right way.

We should all get that tattooed all over our bodies. There is no right way.

Because I, and many people I know, have to work constantly to shrug off the feeling that there’s a right and wrong way to do things. There just isn’t, you guys. There is not.

Jen 1421
I got a voicemail from my grandmother yesterday morning. I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about it on the blog or not, but here we are. Let me preface this by saying that I love my grandmother very much. I talk about her frequently on follow my bliss and that’s because she is and always has been a huge part of my life. My mom was 19 when I was born and was finishing college when I was a little kid, so we lived with my grandparents. As I was the first grandchild of our family, my grandma and I became very close and spent a ton of time together when I was little. She’s funny, smart, sometimes a little mean in a way that makes you respect her immensely, and she loves her family more than anything. She is and always will be an enormous influence on me.

I sent her a note last week, thanking her and my grandfather for some financial help they’d given me toward my massive student loans. And in the note, I also explained why I quit my job. I wasn’t sure what she’d heard or hadn’t heard from other family members and I wanted her to hear it directly from me.

So her subsequent voicemail began, “Hello. It’s your grandmother. So, of course, I’m really concerned.”

Ugh.

She went on to explain what she’s worried about, listing things as though I haven’t considered them at all yet, as though I clearly must have no real plan in place. Cuz, you know, good thing she’s around to tell me what’s what otherwise I, an almost-29 year old woman, wouldn’t know the floor from the ceiling.

Now, I have been absolutely blessed during this entire quitting-my-job experience to have avoided even a single naysayer, for the most part. Sure, every once in a blue moon someone will make a cynical comment, but that’s fine, that’s life. People have their own opinions and their own limitations and I respect that those opinions and limitations aren’t always identical to mine. Largely, though, everyone has been so supportive of this decision, and even inspired by it. Even my own otherwise often practical mother has surprised me with how open-minded she’s been, and how courageously she’s trusted me and my choices.

So it’s certainly not the end of the world to receive a less than glowing response from my grandmother. I know, I know, it’s her job to call me up and gripe at me. If not her, than who? Plus, she’s from a different era, her mind works differently than mine does. And of course it does. Her life hasn’t been affected greatly by the internet age, she doesn’t know the stories we hear all day long about people who are regularly making careers for themselves in unlikely places. When she married my grandfather, they were broke. And they spent much of their lives pinching their pennies and make safe choices so that they could give their children certain opportunities. I know this, I understand it, I can sympathize with her mindset.

But for me, personally, who was not born into this world during the era she was, and who does live in an age in which what I’m doing is becoming more the norm than it is the exception, I just had to roll my eyes at that voicemail.

What else can I do? I’m not going to get angry with her. She’s 78 years old. She loves me and her fear comes from that place of love. I just wish she’d have finally learned, in 78 years, that being critical doesn’t make people feel loved, it makes them feel criticized. When I weighed 265 pounds, her criticisms didn’t help me lose weight, they helped me get fatter. But I’m not sure she knows (or is willing to trust in) another way.

Still, besides my mom, I care more about what this old lady thinks than probably anyone else in my life. Which is silly, really, because I’m sure she thinks 90% of my choices aren’t smart ones. I guess part of growing up, for me anyway, is deciding not to care so much about what your grandmother thinks of you. I love her and I want to make her happy, but more than that, I want to make myself happy. So I can only hope that my happiness will eventually make her happy.

So I will call her back, and I will try as best as I can to explain why I’ve done this, and where the money to pay my bills is going to come from, and why it’s okay and why she should just trust me. And it will be an unpleasant conversation and then it will be over. And when I see her in two months at Christmas, she will make comment after comment about my choices, and offer suggestion after suggestion about how I can still save myself from this mess. (I imagine going to graduate school will be focused upon.) And I will fall asleep each night over the holiday shaking my head and rolling my eyes and looking forward to the next time I can sit down and have a beer with whomever else is home for Christmas and isn’t an old lady.

This is the long way of reiterating – there’s no right or wrong way to do anything. There’s only the way that makes the most sense to you. Period.

There’s no right or wrong way for me to have quit my job. And there’s no right or wrong way for me to spend my time now that I’m on the other side.

Jen 1456

So I’m working, still, to remind myself of that, to glance down at the “Be.” on my arm and remember to let time pass and not obsess over whether or not I’ve lived each day perfectly. It’s a challenge for me, but I will get there. It’s a lesson I didn’t even know I needed to learn until I was here.

Today, I’m going to let the day take me where it may. I have some baking to get done, I’d like to exercise, and I have an improv show tonight with The Baldwins. It will all get done whenever it gets done. And I will feel so much more peaceful if I can let go of the need to control time.

a perfect celebration

IMG_1870

I had such a great time last night celebrating the end of my desk job with all my best friends.

When I finally left work yesterday, it was a little bittersweet. I’d had a really nice lunch with one of my bosses, a woman who I’ve never spent much time getting to know, but our conversation over lunch was surprisingly easy and pleasant. Then I spent the afternoon working hard to tie up a lot of loose ends and make sure everything was in place for the new girl. It seems silly to me now, but I kept thinking, This is the last time I’ll do this, this is the last time I’ll do that.

The job I left yesterday was actually my very first full time job after college – so I’ve been employed there on two separate occasions and had other jobs in between. I graduated college two years later than the rest of my class because I dropped out right before my senior year. After I finally graduated at age 23, I quit my handful of part-time evening and weekend jobs (theater house manager, box office treasurer, etc.) and took on a job at a successful music and media law firm. I worked for famous clients, somewhat demanding attorneys and generally got my feet wet in the world of New York City office life. It was kind of a fast paced, overwhelming environment for me, especially as a “first” job. And I was exhausted after working there for almost a year. So when a higher paying, slower paced job at a university came along, I jumped at the chance to make the change.

A year and a half later I got fired from that university job, which was a really unfortunate experience, but also a blessing in disguise. I’m not sure I ever would have left that job if I hadn’t been fired. It was incredibly easy and low commitment and I probably would have worked their for years, unhappily. Who knows, maybe I would have been walking out of that office for the last time yesterday had I continued to work there.

So after I was fired, I temped for a year at various offices around the city. Then I got a call from the office manager at my old music law firm job, the same woman I had lunch with yesterday. She said they needed somebody, heard I was available and asked me to come back. I was thrilled. I needed the money, the stability, the routine, the health insurance and I didn’t want to have to work unpredictable temp jobs anymore. Plus the law firm, although sometimes stressful, had always been an okay place to work – one of the better survival jobs I’d ever had. It was perfect timing. Even though I knew this wasn’t My Career Path, I figured it would be a great place holder for the time being. And it was.

I stayed there for another two years. And, as you’re well aware, I left for good yesterday. These past two years have been much easier for me than the first time I was employed there. Sure, there were stressful times and unreasonable demands from rich people and times when I felt underappreciated. But as I’m now older and more mature, I was able to let that stuff go more often. Okay, yes, I started a blog about wanting to quit the job. And sometimes I complained, okay, okay, true. But all in all, it’s been a decent job. And since I first worked there when I was just out of college, it will always be special to me.

I learned about having a “real” job at that office. In fact, I actually started regularly drinking coffee because of that job, when I first worked there at age 23. I made friends and made mistakes and grew up in a lot of ways while working there. And although I’m sure I’ll go back to visit, I knew I was leaving the end of a chapter last night in a lot of ways. I had a different respect for and understanding of what it meant to be leaving than I’d had the first time I left. I didn’t feel like running out of there cheering last night. I felt proud of myself for being brave enough to leave a complacent lifestyle, but I also felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend, a friend I’d outgrown.

She was good to me in many ways, that job. Helped me pay down debt, save money for this transition, and provided me with a safe, stable place to go to every day. I would be lying if I said I won’t miss it. I realized as I left notes for the new person and filed things in their proper place, emailed my boss the last of his messages, and organized things for Monday morning so that the girl who’s replacing me isn’t so overwhelmed, that even if I haven’t always given 100% at that job, I’m good at it. It’s not a hard job to be good at it, but even so. I knew what I was doing.

One of our clients called on Thursday and after I said hello to him and then transferred the call to my boss, he said to my boss, “You know, I like Jen so much. She is always so nice to me when I call. You’d better never let her go.” And my boss said, “It’s funny you should say that because she’s leaving tomorrow.” That same client called me yesterday and told me he’s really going to miss me. And he wished me luck in my “writing or whatever else you’re passionate about,” and told me he thinks it’s great that I’m going to do my own thing. Naturally, that made me feel really good. It was very sweet of him to tell me so.

I had a lot of those kinds of conversations with work people yesterday. For once in my life, I was totally honest with everyone in the workplace, from the moment I gave my notice in early September, about why I’m leaving and what I’m really going to do. And it felt good to do that. It’s hard to be a creative person and find the words to explain to people who seem to be content in a non-creative environment that you’re going off to write stories, play dress-up and be artsy. At least, that’s how it sometimes feels coming out of my mouth. I fear blank stares and the inability to relate. But I laid it all out for anyone who asked: Not cut out to work in an office. Want to write, perform, bake, exercise, follow my bliss. And, to my surprise, they were all supportive and understanding. We all want to be fulfilled and happy.

A kind of high strung, but funny attorney with a big personality, who often can’t be bothered to pay attention to a world outside of his own told me on his way out the door last night that he hopes I achieve everything I want to, and that I find all the happiness I’m seeking. “Because this,” and he gestured around to the office, “isn’t it.” Also surprising. And validating. I underestimate people’s ability for empathy sometimes.

Kevin came to pick me up from work last night and take me to my party. It was so sweet to have him there and when I walked out of the building holding his hand, I let out a huge sigh. It felt right. Today, I feel really…good. I feel peaceful. To be honest, I feel joyful.

…okay NOW I’ll write about the party last night! I guess I needed to get the rest of that stuff off my chest!

the last day

Picture 112

This post has been over a year in the making.

Today’s the day. The big day. The last day at my desk job. I’ve anticipated this day more than I’ve anticipated my birthday this year. (And I love birthdays.)

But I’m feeling some unexpected things!

I’m feeling scared.

Now, I consider myself a brave young lady. I’ve been through some complicated, grown up stuff in my life, all of which has taught me to be courageous in the face of almost anything. So I’m shocked, frankly, to feel scared today.

Maybe scared is the wrong word. Maybe I’m anxious. Anticipating. Questioning. Feeling nervous.

A million questions have been running through my mind in the last 48 hours: Was this the right decision? Is this the right timing? Am I going to miss my coworkers? I only really enjoy the company of a few of them! Is that only because of my attitude? Am I going to miss the busy work? Maybe it’s good for me to have busy work! How am I going to KNOW what to DO?! Why didn’t I figure it out more specifically? What progress have I made in the last year that makes today a more logical day to quit than this day last year? Why didn’t I stay on through the holidays? What if I end up in another office job? NO. THAT CAN’T HAPPEN.

Madness. I know. And I also know that these feelings of mine will shift, change and grow and in the next few weeks, days, and even hours. So I’m not genuinely worried that I’ve made a terrible mistake.

But change can be very scary.

I’ve said before that I didn’t start writing this blog to share only the wonderful, exciting parts of making a huge life change. I started this blog to share the journey. And journeys are, by their very nature, all over the map. So here we are.

Earlier this week, I was very fortunate to have so many of you warmly receive my article about Kath Younger from Kath Eats Real Food. And after I posted it, I ended up “meeting” a few insightful people who I may not have otherwise met, including a popular blogger named Angela, who writes a beautiful, inspiring blog called Oh She Glows. Oh She Glows is about Angela’s journey to pursue a lifelong dream of starting her own healthy bakery and also about her passion for healthy living. I discovered her lovely blog just in time.

Today, she’s written a post that is subtitled “Knowing Yourself Is The Beginning of All Wisdom,” which is a quote that her mother had inscribed on the outside of a beautiful time capsule she gave to Angela as a graduation present. Inside the gorgeous wooden box, there were pictures, notes and a letter from her mother, all about how important it is to stay true to yourself and to live a life that fulfills you, while never taking for granted the simple joys of being human. It was a lovely gift from her mother and I’m so glad Angela shared it today.

Near the end of today’s post, Angela writes:

When I first read (the letter from my mom), I didn’t really know how to apply it to my current situation. I felt stuck in a job where I was unhappy and I felt like I was destined to do work that I didn’t really enjoy. Perhaps, this letter planted the seed for me though.

Reading it over last night, everything sort of clicked for me.

Over the past 8 months, I have learned these lessons. I have learned that money doesn’t bring happiness and it sure as hell won’t give you self-esteem or character. I have learned that being true to myself is possibly one of the most beneficial things that I could ever achieve. I have learned that if you do something you love and are passionate about, the money will eventually follow.

She then goes on to describe how she used to be a guarded person, because she felt that showing her true, sensitive side was discouraged by other people, especially in a workplace atmosphere. She explains that she finally felt free when she decided to take her walls down, let herself be vulnerable and use her strengths and abilities to her advantage, instead of hiding them. She says:

I now believe that one of the keys to pursuing your dreams is to let go of all those walls. Stop hiding who you are because society is telling you to be someone who you are not. Each and every one of us has some unique ability to share with others. A way that we can contribute and feel that our purpose for life is fulfilled.

This was exactly what I needed to read this morning. In a rush, the reason I decided long ago to leave this job and find a lifestyle and a career more suitable to who I am came flooding back to me.

Sure, I could work at this company for years, for the rest of my life if I wanted to. And I’d be financially comfortable, I’d have health insurance and I’d take my two weeks of vacation every year, chat with my coworkers from time to time, and immerse myself in my hobbies during my free time. And there is nothing wrong with that path. That might be the perfect life for someone. It sounds quite content, in many respects.

It just doesn’t appeal to me, personally. I hate sitting in one place all day, I like to be creative, to be innovative, to have new experiences all the time, to stretch myself and grow and learn and change. And I want my career, where I spend the bulk of my waking hours, to reflect those interests. Unfortunately, this job, and others like it, can’t offer me that. Angela wrote, “Stop hiding who you are because society is telling you to be someone you are not.”

Thank you for writing that post today, Angela. It helped me shake myself out of my nervous place.

I decided long ago to embrace that I’m not meant to be an office worker. It might offend some people. It might not be the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It might not be the most financially safe thing I’ve ever done.

But the choice to embrace precisely who I am is the greatest gift I could give myself right now. Nothing else in this world will make me happier than being myself. That is one thing I know for sure. Knowing that, and being reminded of it by Angela’s post, has taken some of my fear away this morning.

And lastly, as if there aren’t enough good vibes flowing around me already today, my darling boyfriend just sent me an amazing email, one that he typed on his blackberry no less, probably while sitting in a busy bagel shop. What a guy. He’s honestly the best guy I know. He wrote:

I love you and am inspired by you, please remind yourself of how many
others you’ve inspired and enjoy this day you’ve given yourself. You
took action in September when you quit, you’re taking action today by
committing to it being your last day and in the coming weeks you will
be taking daily action to produce the working life that you desire. Be
proud, be strong and own it, baby!

I’m so lucky to have him.

Perhaps all my entries leading up to today, and today’s entry, and the big night out with margaritas, Mexican food and great friends that’s happening tonight (YES!), is all together too much fanfare for quitting one’s dumb job. But it’s my fanfare. And I’m so blessed to get to have this awesome experience.

Thank you all for your insight and encouragement. Because of the incredible support I’ve received from all of you through this blog, and in my real life, one of the goals I set out to achieve when I started follow my bliss almost a year ago has been achieved today. And this is only just beginning! Stay tuned to see what happens next. Here we go!

YAAAY!!

two days or 18 working hours to go

Picture 096

First of all, guess what I’m doing tonight!?

I’m going to the Monty Python Reunion at the Ziegfeld Theatre! There will be a screening of their brand new documentary, Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut), and then there will be a panel discussion with the actual guys from Monty Python.

Check back tomorrow for pictures!

A huge thank you goes to my good friend, Matt Love, who had an extra ticket (probably because he’s “press” – what a fancy guy) and he asked me to join him! I’m excited. Whee!

Anyway, the subway on the way in to work this morning was uncharacteristically packed, but I didn’t mind. As my time at the desk job winds through these last few hours, I’m feeling happy and peaceful. Sure, anxieties crop up from time to time, but that’s natural. I’m choosing to focus not on what might go wrong, but on what’s possible.

The last several days have been some of the most interesting I’ve had in recent memory. I’ve been receiving emails and comments from people across the world, congratulating me on this decision, sharing with me their similar experiences, asking me for my advice (yikes! my advice?!) on what they should do to improve their situation.

I cannot thank you all enough for your support, your insights, and your kind words. And to all the new readers of follow my bliss, welcome! I’m so excited to share this journey with all of you. Although I’ve been writing about this quest of mine for the last ten months, in many ways, the journey starts tomorrow!

I’m eager to share how this all works out for me, and hopefully, to continue to inspire other people to seek out what makes them happiest. Life’s too short to do anything else.

Of course, you can go read some of those great comments yourself, but I wanted to highlight a few of them here so you can see the kind of awesome stuff I’ve gotten to read in the last few days (Scroll through the actual comments if you want to know who wrote these.):

“I recently quit too. More power to you. And enjoy the freedom.”

“Life is too short to be doing a job you get little or no pleasure from.”

“It’s so refreshing to be free of something you longer find fulfilling. Welcome to the other side!”

“There’s uncertainty and unexpected joys and I haven’t figured it all out yet but I do know that staying where I was working was never going to be the answer.”

“It’s comforting to see that I am not alone or completely crazy.”

“I was recently liberated from a job that I truly hated. There’s no excuse for putting up with a situation that doesn’t feed your soul.”

“But even though this makes so much sense to me, my co-workers can’t imagine why I wouldn’t be fully satisfied at my job. That, to me, is the strange thing! Not the fact that I’m looking for something more satisfying!”

“I can’t WAIT till I can quit mine!!”

“Now I’m working part time at a major research university reading the news!!! No kidding I read the news for a pay check and study full-time. Go – explore – ignite your passions – fulfill your dreams. It is so worth it.”

“I will be quitting my job in Feb to go traveling.”

“Quitting my job was one of the most liberating acts I have ever done!”

“So many people end up stuck in a job that they just drift into and don’t enjoy going to. I mean, this is LIFE! We should be loving every day of it.”

I have loved hearing from all of you. Thank you. And I hope that we can all continue to draw inspiration from each other. It is nothing short of thrilling to me that so many people can relate to this experience, and that so many people really, truly believe that we all deserve to discover careers and live lives that fulfill us. It’s a good thing.

therapy

I mentioned a day or two ago that I’d made an appointment to visit my old therapist for a few sessions before my insurance runs out. Just a check-in kinda thing as I’m about to embark on this big transition. Well, I met with her last night right after work. And it was fantastic. There is just nothing in the world like good ol’ fashioned talk-therapy. I’m of the school that believes anyone and everyone could benefit from it, and that it’s something everyone should experience at least once in life. It’s so freeing and peaceful to be able to communicate with another person whose number one objective is to listen to you, and to reflect back to you your feelings, without judgment.

My therapist, Karen, who I will probably only get to see for a few sessions because who can afford anything anymore, is one of the best. I haven’t really had any other therapists, so I make these claims arbitrarily, but all I know is that I left her office last night feeling more centered than I have in months. And I haven’t really spent a lot of time feeling un-centered lately. So this was special.

When I got there, I could not help but think back to the different stages in my life during which I’ve walked into that building. The building is exactly the same, the elevator is still slow and jumpy, the hallways still smell like they always have, even the magazines in the waiting room look to be splayed out on the table exactly as I remember they were seven years ago. It’s all the same, but I have changed so much.

As I rode up to the fifth floor, I thought about the very, very beginning, when I was obese and extremely depressed and living my own person hell, when I had nothing left to lose and was literally hoping for a miracle as I timidly sat down on her couch, looking – I’m sure – quite sad and pained. And then I thought about later on, as I slowly but surely healed myself, still stumbling quite a bit long the way, still in pain, still lonely, still confused, but getting better. I walked into that building during breakups, during makeups, during times of weight gain and weight loss, having just been fired, having just been hired, falling in love, fighting with friends, fighting with family, fighting with myself.

And there I stood last night. Seven and a half years after the first time. Now I’m all grown up. I sat sipping my small coffee as we chatted about my life, and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. I felt beautiful and strong and smart. I felt braver than I ever used to feel in that room – an adult who deserves to be happy, who doesn’t need anyone telling her what’s what. And I was able to communicate to her some things that have needed to be voiced. It felt great.

Then I went home – I’d taken the night off from my improv show for some down time –  and dug an old, old journal of mine out of a hope chest. It was the journal I kept when I was, for lack of a better description, the craziest. I was at the height of my depression, the height of my anxiety, I was in what I can only describe as psychological and emotional agony. And these pages reflect that in an almost terrifying way. It was a little hard to read them, frankly, and to realize that they were real, that I wrote them through my reality at the time. I couldn’t write like that now, words that are clearly those of someone shrouded in pain and teetering on the edge of self destruction, if I were being paid to write fiction. It was raw and – yikes.

Therapy. Don’t be afraid to get some. Because it works, whether you “need” it or not.

reminding myself

Picture 11254

Lately, I have been so bizarrely content to lay on the couch watching TV for hours that I don’t recognize myself. Part of me is like, Uh oh. The other part of me is like, Rock on, lady. TV rules.

No Mom, I’m not going to lay around watching TV when I no longer have a job. I’m just trying to make a point. I’m tired. Is the point.

The purgatory of these last few weeks is exhausting. Or maybe the years I’ve spent trying to juggle all these commitments of mine are finally catching up to me.

All the stuff I’ve been packing into my days for the last seven or eight years – getting back into school and graduating, the weight loss, the exercise habit, ending a troubled relationship, entering into my first healthy Big Girl Relationship complete with We Live Together Now, the various paycheck jobs, the comedy jobs, more recently the bakery – it’s all stuff I’m so grateful to have and to have experienced. And it’s also a lot of work, lots of hours, lots of things that fill up each day, schedules that find me leaving the house at 9am and returning at 11pm, not yet having eaten dinner. And it’s been that way for a long time. Makes sense, really. I’m in my twenties and I don’t have kids – what better time to pack up my schedule until I can’t see straight. And I’m glad to have done it. Before I had this kind of schedule, I had the kind of schedule where I sat around, fat and unhappy, and did next to nothing. So I’d say this is an improvement. But it’s time to strike a balance between the nothing and the everything.

It’s the New York City way, to pack in as much as possible, but it doesn’t have to be. And not everyone who makes their life here lives that way. As I move into this new phase, I will still have my beloved projects, relationships and commitments, but I’m going to make it my priority to create more time and space between them all too. That down time is something I am starting to require (as I grow gray hair).

I want to be able to cook dinner. Once in a while. And I don’t want to have to schedule it all out to make it fit into my day. I just want to, say, shop for the ingredients in a leisurely fashion, come home, turn on some music or the news and stand around in my kitchen putting it all together. Patiently, calmly, maybe with a glass of wine, maybe without nagging hunger begging me to scrap it all and order Chinese food because it’s 11:30pm and I’m ravenous and going to start throwing a temper tantrum if I don’t eat soon.

I don’t even know what that lifestyle is like, the one where you cook dinner. I honestly haven’t a clue. I’m about to turn 29 years old and I’ve never had that kind of lifestyle. I’m not complaining, I’m just observing. Luckily, it’s up to me to make it so. Maybe I’ll hate it! Can’t wait to find out.

Maybe I’ll get really into decorating my apartment! Or collecting cheap, cute necklaces! Or sewing! (Probably not sewing.) (But maybe!)

Blue and I had drinks and dinner on Saturday night. It was great to spend some time with her and catch up – we had a lovely chat in which we were both able to talk about stuff that was on our minds. It’s a blessing to have her in my life right now, to be able to bounce things off each other and reflect back to each other our experience of these similar journeys we’re on.

After having quit her table-waiting job a little over a month ago, she’s nearing the end of her “30 Days.” It was a month during which she planned to avoid survival jobs, to pursue work she’s passionate about and to find out more about herself. Not surprisingly, this month has taken her places and given her experiences that she wasn’t anticipating. It’s so exciting to hear where she is with it all mentally, and how open she is to laying her expectations aside and responding to her own needs. She’s been doing an excellent job of letting any judgment, her own or other people’s, fall away and that’s not an easy task. I recommend checking out her blog entries about this last month. It’s interesting and inspiring to read her progress.

It wasn’t a coincidence that on my walk to meet up with her on Saturday night I’d been thinking about what my own experience will be like once I’m no longer working. I wonder where I’ll be a month and a half from now. I definitely feel a sense of pressure, applied by myself and no one else, to “figure it out.” To come up, rather quickly, with a new career, a new path, a focused direction out of all these things I’m invested in, and one that can generate income right away. I realized that I’ve been subconsciously telling myself that right now! is the time I should be figuring out that new path – while I’m still at the desk job and I have the time and the paycheck to do so in a risk-free setting. I’ve been telling myself that once I leave here, it is my duty to begin walking down the new path that I’ve neatly laid out. And ASAP.

Ugh. I’ve got to stop telling myself that stuff. Because that’s not what I want out of this.

I’m so done with “asap.” Honestly. Enough is enough with the pressure and the time lines and all the judgment that comes with how long stuff takes, or what pit stops you make along the way. I don’t want to let people down, let myself down, or appear like I made the wrong choice. But I just can’t worry about that. I cannot worry about other people’s expectations for this process, or other people’s feelings that it was a mistake that I quit my job. Any and all success I’ve had in my life has come from following my own time line and listening to my own needs, not adhering to someone else’s. I’m reminded of that saying that goes something like, “Be yourself and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of you. The people who matter don’t care, and the people who care don’t matter.” Amen.

There is no time line. There is no race. I’m not in any hurry to create anything for myself other than a sense of peace and contentment. And that can come in many forms. I didn’t quit this job so that I could magically manifest the next perfect-for-me career and walk right into it after 3.75 weeks of relaxation and 1.25 weeks of pre-planning.

I quit this job because I’ve never had an opportunity to do something like this before. I quit this job because I never intentionally chose to make a career out of office administration, I just ended up doing so. And now I intentionally choose NOT to do so any longer. I’ve spent the last seven years cleaning up the messes I made in college, paying my penance. There were bills to pay and debt to tend to and weight to lose and emotional baggage to pack into smaller suitcases. Following my professional bliss didn’t seem to fit anywhere within that, nor did I have the emotional maturity to handle something like that at the time. It meant I took the jobs I could get, not the jobs I wanted.

For the first time in my adult life, I don’t have to do something I don’t want to do, be someone I’m not, just because my circumstances make it so. There is such a simple freedom in that.

Right now, I want to know who I am when all I have to do in a day is to cook a healthy dinner. I want to know who I am when I don’t have to show up to an office job every day. I want to know who I am when I have free time to practice yoga, keep my apartment tidy and spend time doing the things that make me happy. I want to know who I am without a weight loss project at my feet, without needing more therapy, without relationships to repair. I’ve learned a lot about myself by writing this blog for the last nine months and by talking to other people who are on or have experienced similar journeys. But I have to continue the learning process now by doing the actual field research. I know I’m very lucky to have the chance to do this, but I’ve worked hard for it, so I guess it’s not really luck so much as it is privilege.

If I stay open to the possibilities and commit myself, when I finally leave this job (three more work weeks!), to doing things that make me feel fulfilled, pursuing work I’m passionate about, and slowing down so that I can fully take in this big, beautiful life I have, I know that the right career path for me will eventually emerge out of that. However long it takes.

It might be right away, but it might not. It might be an instant, obvious choice, but it might not be. I might have already discovered it, or maybe I haven’t. I might have to go work in a cafe, at a bookstore, with children, with old people, with animals, selling shoes, making sandwiches – to make ends meet – or maybe I won’t. Maybe any one of those jobs is the new path. And maybe it’s not.

I’m going to have to constantly remind myself that this is not a race. That I am not on a time line. I’m also going to have to remind myself that my success and happiness is not based on my pace, the amount of activities I can cram into a day, or how far I try to spread my energy. I’m going to have to remind myself that if I show up to my grandparents’ house at Christmas time with a measly job as a coffee shop barista and the announcement that I’m “gonna write a book!” or I’m “gonna travel the world!” or I “still don’t have health insurance!” it’s okay if they all look at me sideways, try to talk me out of it, or don’t talk to me at all. Too bad for them. I’m pretty cool if you get to know me.

My ultimate goal is to create:

A career that lets me feel happy and fulfilled.
A career that allows me to create a work/life balance.
A career that provides me with financial abundance.

That will happen someday, maybe sooner, maybe later. The immediate goal is to discover that career by spending my time in ways that fill me up and make me happy – pursuing projects I’m interested in, spending time with people I enjoy being around, and doing things that I like to do.

This particular blog entry will serve as a reminder for me, something to read and feel encouraged by if I start wondering what the hell I’ve done.