There have been many distinct parts to my journey to “reinvent” myself as someone who is happy, with a career that is meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling. It has been a long journey for me, and many stops along the journey have been personal and private – shared with no one but myself and occasionally my husband.
When I tell people what I have done, and my story of how I came to be an entrepreneur – leaving my salaried job as a CPA – I frequently get comments like “Wow – that is inspiring!” or “That is really brave!”. For a while when I would get these types of comments, I would smile and nod…understanding the comment on the surface, but being too wrapped up in my own world of chaos and madness to really think about what people were saying. At no point did I really think what I was doing was “inspiring”, certainly not “brave”, or any other of the many adjectives people would use to describe my latest adventure. To me, my move was based on self-preservation, and some more appropriate adjectives would have been along the lines of “crazy”, “foolhardy” or “overly optimistic” – although perhaps these words are really synonyms in this situation…?
When I look back now, and ruminate a bit of the comments of others, I do think what I did was brave. I can see now that it may be inspiring to some, and I sincerely hope it is. My new career, and my purpose, is predicated on people looking for that inspiration and hoping that someday they can also find themselves in a career that makes them feel like they belong, like they are in the right place, like they are fulfilled and even <gasp!> happy!
How did I make it happen? This was a huge change, and a major shift in my life and that of my family. I want to be clear that when I made this move, it was not an overnight decision, despite the fact that it may have looked that way to many on the outside. There was a lot of time and thought invested in starting my journey. Being completely honest with myself, I knew many years ago that accounting was the wrong fit for me. Like so many others, however, I couldn’t look past the steady paycheck and job certainty that I had provided for myself by pursuing accounting – I was scared to leave behind that security blanket. It wasn’t until things got SO bad, and the universe conspired to pile other life crap on me at the same time, that I finally said enough was enough.
When the universe finally smacked me upside the head and I could no longer deny the inevitable, I started making my plan. I needed a change. And it was going to be a big one. I had learned after years of changing roles, changing groups, and changing companies, that the change I needed was much bigger – a fundamental change. I wasn’t quite clear (ahem – at all) what that change looked like, but I realized it didn’t matter. Whatever the change looked like, it was going to require a certain amount of flexibility, a certain amount of support, a certain amount of dedication to “starting over” and tightening our belts.
I looked at the factors that I would need to have in place to position myself for the change, and I started taking action. I started socking money into our savings. I paid down the mortgage. I adjusted my expectations and resigned myself to driving an older (and paid for) vehicle, realizing that my health and my happiness were more important than any luxury possessions. I had many “exploratory” conversations with my husband to gauge his level of support and tolerance for what I was contemplating. I effected changes at work that I thought would be the most helpful upon my departure. I contemplated the best time for me to make my exit to minimize negative impacts to my team. It was a slow, gradual, and very deliberate process.
Finally, the time came. I put in my notice <cue sidelong glances and people wondering whether perhaps I should be leaving the office and heading straight to the nuthouse>. At that point, I still was not sure what my new career would be – I felt adamant that I could not make that decision while my brain was still clouded with my previous existence. So, I just left. I took my stuff, I crossed my fingers, I exhaled and I walked right out that door.
I took the following months to decompress and figure out who I really am and what I really needed out of my life and my career.
What is the point of all of this? The point is that a big change is never easy and not something you can make happen overnight. You know, the whole “Rome wasn’t built in a day” thing. By starting to take steps towards making that big change happen today, you are truly just beginning your journey. The journey itself gives you an opportunity to contemplate your change, to learn to love your change, to become completely invested in your change before you completely commit to the change. By making the decision to move forward and start preparing for your big change, you are “testing the waters” to see if this change is truly what you want and need.
When you look around at the people you admire and think about who you want to be, how are you going to get there? What change do YOU need to start moving towards? How are you going to start your journey? Most importantly – what are you waiting for? Start building your Rome!!