My last boss once said to me that "the graveyard is full of indispensable people" and it took a while for that one to sink in. I worked hard and I thought my job was my life and I thought that the business needed me.
But it was JUST a job, not my whole life and I eventually realised, after I took the big step of resigning and moving to France to follow my dream, that I'd been living a lie.
You can't see what a rut you're in until you step out of it.
I used to say to people "I love my job", but what I really loved was the control and power I felt at being good at what I did. I did not ever REALLY enjoy it. Not Ever. I spent my days sat in a box of an office, breathing stale air and never seeing the sun. I just ran from meeting to meeting and drove an hour each way to work every day and drank half a bottle of wine every night to try and relax before I collapsed into bed. All for money and pride.
It just wasn't "me." I couldn't find a way to be "myself" in that job and so I felt I was acting all the time. It wasn't natural and it wasn't healthy for me, so I made a change.
There were 4 things that I experienced over a short period of time that helped me to see the light.
Firstly, I remember seeing a documentary about "Trekkies" (people who are such fans of Star Trek that they dress up as their favourite characters and travel from all over the country to meet up at conventions). There was this one girl who was dressed up as a Klingon; amazing face makeup and costume who, when interviewed, said from behind her mask; "I love coming here. It's the only time I can truly be myself" That really stuck with me. I was a little sorry for her because I wondered what sort of life did she have when the only time she was herself was when she was dressed as an alien? And I was jealous of her, because at least she'd found the thing that she needed to do in life to be free.
Secondly, the stress that I felt in my job was starting to make me ill.
Thirdly I picked up a book at the airport to read on holiday entitled "What should I do with my life?" by Po Bronson. It's a fascinating account of the real-life stories of people who have started over with their lives and followed their dreams. It showed me that it's worth the effort of making a new life, if you're not happy with your life right now. You can go for it and it will work out somehow. I realised that I was putting off living the life I wanted now for some strange twisted logic that I could live later when I'd achieved other goals.
Here's one small example of the crazy way I was living my life back then; I really wanted to cut my long hair short, but I realised I was waiting to do it when I got older because I knew it'd make me look younger. I was that sad. Or crazy. Probably both....
Last but by no means the least (and this is the one that gets most people to start thinking about making the most of their life) someone very close to me died. My lovely Mum.
So I got the wake-up call. That stark reminder that life was too short to be wasting it.
And Steve Jobs said it better than I can:
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary."
So let's say that you've realised that you want to make some changes before it's too late. It's easy to say what you DON'T want to do in life, but what "DO you want to do?
What IS your destiny? What things do you do, that are so absorbing, that you could lose yourself for hours? Can you remember where you buried your dreams? What is your reason for living, your "ikigai"?
What can you do to ensure that when you breathe your last you can say "I have lived a good and contented life. I wouldn't change a thing"?
There are many ways you can try to find out:
But the key thing is to have to courage to just do SOMETHING. Anything to make a start. If it's not right, you need to trust yourself to work it out. You will.
And if the people you care about don't support you, then maybe they don't care about you as much as you think. Or maybe you're being unreasonable. You'll know deep down which it is.......
So, I'm always writing down quotes from films and TV that speak to me. Drives Ron crazy when I pause the film to grab a pen and paper! Here are a couple of my favourite film quotes to end with:
"People die of common sense. One lost moment at a time."
Film remake of "Dorian Gray".
Your energy is only borrowed. One day you have to give it back."
"Happy endings, what's that about? Life's not about endings. It's more a series of moments. I'm still here. My life's not over. Life just goes on and it's up to you to decide if you want to show up."
And here's one from me:
The sky's the limit, but why stop there?
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