How ending my job started my life
Nearly a month ago over the holiday break, I read this article. It wasn’t the first time I had read it; I originally read it in 2012, leading into 2013. After reading that article again, there was one quote I pulled out that I made a mission to abide by in 2014:
“Remember, misery is comfortable. It’s why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.”
This pursuit of happiness is the reason why, on Jan. 7, 2014, I gathered up whatever courage I had left in my body, stepped into my supervisor’s office and quit my job. I had no job lined up, I had no interviews before me and I had no way of making money to cover my living expenses. All I had in front of me was the uncontrollable desire to take back my power and pursue happiness without excuses. All I had in front of me was a blank slate.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved my job at Central Michigan University — so much so that quitting my job as Assistant Director of Public Relations took a lot of soul searching. I worked with a fantastic team of very cool people who really wanted to do awesome things and make a difference for the university. I had a lot of opportunities to grow professionally, and I have no doubt had I stayed I would only have grown more. However, working in a great job is not always enough.
There are many factors to personal and professional happiness, including location, and the city of Mount Pleasant, Mich. was not a source of happiness for me. In fact, the city hindered my personal happiness. When you cannot enjoy the holidays with your family because you have a dark cloud hovering above you, caused by the reminder that in two weeks you will be returning to a city you feel is your own ‘little hell,’ it may be time to let go and move on. So, I did. I made the choice to take a risk for the sake of pursuing my personal happiness.
It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Opportunities sprang up around me in every direction. By the end of that week, I had several employers contact me in response to applications I had sent over the last couple of weeks. I scheduled interview after interview, preparing for what was very quickly becoming the bridge to my next step. I spoke to so many people in such a short amount of time. I gave my very best in every interview, I welcomed every opportunity that came my way as I finished my two weeks at CMU.
Finally, on Jan. 23, I accepted a new position with Health Advocacy Strategies in Seattle. I start Feb. 18. I can’t wait to start the next leg of my professional journey only two days before my birthday.
I’m thrilled to be able to transition from one extraordinary job to the next, but quitting my job several weeks back did more than pave the way for my professional career; it changed me as a person. I learned things about myself that I had never known. I became more of a risk-taker, no longer afraid to leap without looking over the edge to see how far I would fall. The weekend following my last work week at CMU, I traveled to Las Vegas for three days on a spur of the moment trip planned only a week before departure. Two days after I returned, I booked a flight to Austin for a week-long hoorah with one of my best friends who also has been one of the most influential people in my life (read more about her in a #P2P profile).
I cannot express to anyone reading this how inspiring it is to take back your power and pursue your own happiness. It’s a risk to make that leap. Where will you land? How will you make ends meet? What are you going to do to stay afloat? Who will support you? I can admit that I have had an extremely lucky experience here, making an almost seamless transition from CMU to HAS, from Mount Pleasant to Seattle. It won’t pan out the same for everyone.
But, who cares?
Why spend your life in a job you hate? Why waste your emotions in a relationship that is obviously toxic? Why spend your days in a city that paralyzes you? Why lose yourself to your misery when you could just as easily put your foot down, stand your ground and say “Enough is enough!”? Why settle for anything else other than true happiness?
Life is short and we all know that. But in your death bed, which would you rather say as you reflect on your life: “I wish I hadn’t wasted so many years of my life being so miserable” or “I’m glad I took that leap then, because even if it never worked out for me, I took control of my life and did everything I could to be who I wanted to be”? I think most of us would choose the latter. So, what are you waiting for? Why are you letting yourself become content in your own ‘little hell’?
This is a brand new year, and at the risk of sounding cliché, it’s an opportunity for a new you. If there’s something in your life that is dragging you down, let it go — now. Stop waiting for the perfect moment to come, because I guarantee you that perfect moment doesn’t exist. However, when you take control of yourself and your spiritual bliss, you don’t need the perfect moment to come; you made it all by yourself and it couldn’t be more perfect. And damn, does that feel good.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary.”
— Steve Jobs
I want to thank everyone who has supported me in the last month since I made my very difficult decision to leave behind a great job in pursuit of happiness. It was tough, but everyone — family, friends, colleagues, mentors and even acquaintances — has made me feel supported, appreciated, talented, but most of all, inspired. I couldn’t have done it without you. And I hope one day I can help all of you as much as you have helped me.
Chapter three has ended for me. Onward to chapter four, where the pursuit of happiness will bend for nothing.
Bring it on, 2014. Let’s change the world.