Have you found yourself wanting more? Do you feel stuck in a job or a career that no longer seems right…..but it pays the bills? Do you feel too young to retire and too old start over?
Hi, I am MaryEllen. And that was me a few years ago. I didn’t know what to do. Many of my coworkers felt the same way. But, that was just the way it was. That was life. You weren’t supposed to enjoy your work. That’s why its called work!
I didn’t want to accept it. There had to be more, and I was determined to find it.
It started as it always did. Just a vague sense that something was going on behind the scenes. Rumblings about our division not being profitable enough. Ugh. Not again. Each time was more painful than the last. Would I still have a job in the end? Did I want that job? What had happened to the job that I used to love? I still loved my customers. Was that enough? Each time it got harder. But I liked my customers and that was what got me through each merger, acquisition, downsizing, reorganization, or whatever they were calling it this time.
I didn’t think I could do it one more time. So what did I do now? Changing jobs wouldn’t solve the problem. It was an industry wide problem. But I felt too old to start over, too young to retire.
I knew I couldn’t stay put. I was miserable. Everyone around me was miserable too. And I just couldn’t see it getting better. Everyday as I walked closer to my office, I could feel my breathing change. I felt myself tense up. One day I just couldn’t take it anymore. Something had to change.
I wanted a way out. But I couldn’t see it. Then I read the book Your Money or Your Life. And that changed everything. It helped me realize that although I had what most would call a “good” job, I was actually making a poor trade. The amount of money I was making didn’t make up for all the time it consumed and all the stress that the job caused.
This lead me to reading The 4 Hour Work Week and Vagabonding. Suddenly I saw that I had way more possibilities. I saw another path that I hadn’t seen before. What if I took a mid-life Gap Year and used that time to figure out what I would do after that?
My colleagues were puzzled. Had I won the lottery? Had I inherited a pile of money? How could I just walk away? Didn’t I know that I was in my best earning years?
I was warned. You won’t be able to afford health insurance…….what are you going to do? If you just wait 7 more years (??!!!!) you will qualify for early retirement. You won’t be able to draw any retirement income until then. What are you going to do?
Honestly, my plan was based on faith. Faith that there was another way. A way where I didn’t have to sacrifice everything today in the hope that I will enjoy it all someday. I chose to believe that I didn’t have to choose between my life and money. But I really didn’t know how it would all work out.
I travelled, meandered, and wondered down a few dead end paths. I tried out volunteering, short-term jobs, projects, entrepreneurship, and even the idea of doing nothing.
What I learned:
Burnout distorts your thinking. Giving myself time and permission to figure things out was a good idea.
Once I left the corporate world, I was even more determined to not go back.
Surrounding myself with people outside the corporate world helped me see what was possible outside that universe.
Not having an income triggered a scarcity mindset. It wasn’t going matter how much money I had accumulated. Once the pile is finite and your needs are seemingly infinite and unknowable scarcity kicks in. I hated that.
I got bored. Things that I thought would hold my interest for long periods of time, like travel, were good in long chunks but leisure without contrasting it with something meaningful wasn’t going to work for me.
Part-time employment was possible but the jobs that were plentiful were mostly routine and dull.
It bothered me that I didn’t have a professional job anymore. I didn’t see that one coming. I identified with my job way more than I ever had wanted to admit.
While I had occasionally dreamed about being my own boss…….I never thought about it seriously because I thought it was too risky…….until it happened accidentally.
Entrepreneurship is a lot less risky than I had imagined. Financial success with your own business can be exponentially greater than working as an employee.
Success in the corporate world or in academics doesn’t translate to entrepreneurial success. It is a whole new skill set that can be learned but it isn’t a given that you can duplicate that same success immediately.
Success is in the eye of the beholder. It is a very individual answer. Money and status are extrinsic motivators. True success is intrinsic. The answer is inside of you.
It is more possible than ever to find fulfillment and money in the same place…….or something that is close enough!
Maybe you have a similar story. Maybe you had a job that you loved that no longer suits you….for whatever reason. Or maybe you relate to the uncertainty that comes with layoffs that have happened where you work.
If you have read this far I have probably struck a familiar chord.
I had accepted someone else’s definition of a good life. I didn’t even know that there was another way. I didn’t know what was possible for my life………I still don’t. But that is the journey…….to expand my thinking about my life and what I can accomplish.
I don’t have all the answers. What I now have are questions and the desire to follow my curiosity to wherever it goes. Meaning for me is found in work and accomplishment. Not all work needs to provide money but they also don’t have to be mutually exclusive. How they are combined is up to me and how I want to craft my life of money and meaning.
So are you ready to look beyond where you are……..to what is possible? Where we redefine work and reimagine success so that you can regain our life. Trust me. You are worth it.
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