I used to think that people with exciting and interesting jobs were living a life that I couldn’t attain. I used to make up stories that it was too late for me to do what they’ve done and I’d feel depressed and despondent. I used to come up with elaborate routes to getting to where others had got, do a course, volunteer, learn a new language, write letters to organisations asking for work. It felt like a treadmill, constantly chasing the carrot.
But I am coming to realise that all of that ‘doing’ stuff doesn’t actually get me anywhere. I spent years volunteering, studying, doing additional work, talking to the right people, targeting certain organisations to get jobs that would lead me to working with people who had been trafficked. And last February, I got there, I got offered a job doing front line work with women who had been trafficked, great pay, forward thinking organisation, amazing opportunity to learn more about this field I had been dedicatedly driving myself toward for the previous ten years.
But I said no.
When I finally got there it didn’t fit with me, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t the right thing for me to do. Although my head was reminding me of the journey I had been through my gut was screaming ‘don’t do it!!’ I’d fallen out of love with the city the job was based in, I’d fallen out of love with the organisation the job was in, and through ‘getting my head down’ and working so hard to get me to that point, I’d actually lost sight of who I was. I remember, just before leaving the job I’d been doing for 18 months prior to the new offer, feeling like I’d folded up my personality and put it on a shelf for the past year and a half, I was surviving my job rather than enjoying and growing in it.
At that point, February 2012, I took a risk. I stepped away from the profession I’d been dedicated to for so long, took up a part time job to cover the rent and set up my business. This brought a whole load of challenge and shone a spotlight on how much self-belief (or initially and still at times lack of) I have. It has been a period of reconnecting to my personality again, a period of real growth. It’s certainly not been easy but it’s been real and the bottom line is I’m following my heart and my gut.
So now I tend not to look at people with snazzy jobs and wonder how they got there. I know that anyone who is happy and fulfilled in their work has followed their heart and their gut, definitely taken risks and sacrificed certain things. They are happy in the knowledge that they don’t have to jump through a million hoops to get to this ‘sacred land’ of total work fulfilment, they just looked inwards to find it.
So if you’re finding yourself jumping through hoops and working yourself towards burn out just take a moment to connect with what really makes you happy. And in reality, following what makes you happy really isn’t a risk at all.