In 2015 I departed from corporate America. It appeared abrupt to some, but I had been questioning my career since the day I started. I had also worked with a coach during the year prior to making my decision.
On the day I resigned I didn’t know much. What I did know is that I was more scared of things staying the same than I was of them changing. Everything changed from that point forward.
I never could have predicted the benefits that came from following my curiosity and honoring my truth. It hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies, but the benefits have far outweighed the challenges.
Here are the top five unexpected benefits that came from changing my career (noting that most of them have nothing to do with work):
1. I stopped looking for approval.
After returning from vacation, I called my mom and told her I was going to leave my job the next day. There was a pause on the other end of the line.
“So…do you have another job?” she asked.
I felt myself getting defensive, and somehow calmly said this instead:
“I don’t, and what I really need from you right now is your support. If you can’t give that to me, that’s totally okay and we can get off the phone.”
She paused again, as a subtle but seismic shift occurred in our relationship. I was no longer a child desperately seeking her mother’s approval; I was an adult making a decision based on my own best interests.
My mom chose to stay on the phone with me that day and has been a tremendous source of support ever since. She hasn’t always agreed with my decisions, and that’s okay. The only one who needs to approve of your decisions is you.
And while I’ve fallen into patterns of approval-seeking since (particularly with some of my spiritual teachers and coaches), it’s easier to catch now because once you learn something, you can’t unlearn it. Again, all that matters is the rebound rate. Progress, not perfection.
2. I discovered a higher power.
In 2014 I was sprinting uphill on a treadmill when I tore my left groin muscle, hamstring and fractured my pelvis. I was so conditioned to avoid my own pain that I tried to keep running.
One year later, after countless setbacks, I heard a voice in the shower that told me to quit my job. I nodded, as though it was the most normal thing in the world. I was Atheist at the time.
Three months after that I was driving in San Diego and had an awakening. It’s impossible to describe what happened that day, and suffice it to say that when I “came to” the song on the radio was about running. And I had just become aware that my injury had been a form of divine intervention.
I hadn’t seen it at the time, but the Universe had been trying to get me to stop running from my problems, literally and figuratively.
From there, so many puzzle pieces began to fit together.
In my experience, spirituality ultimately gives you the choice to view life differently. It has taught me that I can see life as happening to me, or for me. The latter is not always the easiest, and often requires time and support to see. However, once the healing has occurred, it is always worth it.
3. My close relationships improved.
Upon leaving my old life behind, I was pretty certain I’d lose most of my friends. I didn’t think we’d have anything in common anymore, especially because I had turned all “spiritual.”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As I began to be more honest with myself, I began to be more honest with others. In turn, they were more honest and vulnerable with me. Some of my relationships did fall away, yes, and the rest developed a depth I didn’t know possible.
As Robert Holden says, “if you think something is missing in your life, it’s probably you.”
4. I stopped drinking so much.
Before changing my career, I had a difficult time engaging in social activities without alcohol. I drank to the point of blacking out on a regular basis, which scared me and I also couldn’t figure out how to stop. Drinking was both a source of entertainment and great shame.
When I enrolled in my Spiritual Psychology program, we were asked not to drink on class weekends. I thought it was odd, and what it ultimately taught me was that I had the capacity to face my discomfort without avoiding it.
Over time, I learned to like myself without drinking. I realized I had depth and charisma, and began to enjoy my own company. I made fewer decisions that I regretted, and also didn’t miss throwing up so much.
Most importantly though, once I gained some perspective, I understood that my drinking had never been “bad.” Rather, it was a way of coping. I could also see that the decisions I made while drinking were simply misguided attempts at trying to receive love.
Once I understood this, I forgave myself. And once I forgave myself, I didn’t need to judge myself. And when I didn’t judge myself, I didn’t need to drink anymore.
As it turns out, the very thing I judged as having brought me farther from my truth had in fact been the very thing that brought me closest to it.
5. My sleep improved.
I used to toss and turn for hours before falling asleep. I also regularly woke up in an anxious panic, worrying about something I had said or done, something I had lost, etc. Drinking played a role in this, and it ran deeper than the stress on my nervous system.
Nighttime was the only time these thoughts could come up.
These days it’s a running joke that I fall asleep before my husband even has the chance to get into bed. The other night he said it took me less than three seconds.
The moral of this story is that the more I like my life, the less I worry about it. And the less I worry, the better I sleep.
In truth, this list goes on and on. It includes things like I met my partner, I learned to prioritize myself, I learned to say no, I stopped over-apologizing, etc. If you’d like me to write more on these, please let me know.
With that said, the most important thing to understand is that the path towards a more fulfilling life may be through a career change, and it may not be. It’s important to share that I have plenty of clients who don’t change their careers. This is simply because it’s not always the answer. There is always more that lies beneath the surface.
This means that a career change is simply the breadcrumb to follow.
Yes, I have found a far greater level of fulfillment in the work I do now, and the most important thing is to trust your instincts and see where it leads. Your life will get better by default.
Life is ultimately like a game of chess. It’s hard to see the next move until you take the one in front of you. But once you do and the Universe has a chance to respond, the whole game will open up. You’ll see moves you simply couldn’t before.
So make the first move. It could be as simple as reaching out to me to talk, or buying a book that encourages change. You can also check out my upcoming workshop where we’ll be exploring this topic more deeply.
Whatever you do, know that you don’t have to feel ready. You only need to start.