When I decided to leave my last job three years ago, I had no idea how my life would change. The economy had not officially gone into a tailspin. That would occur over the next 13 months as I was looking for my next opportunity. I was ready for a change. I needed a change. And, as they say, be careful what you ask for.
Now I had already begun to make some changes in my life. I was meditating, had recently started a yoga practice and was forced by my doctor to seriously consider what I was eating or risk metabolic syndrome which I understand is frequently the precursor to diabetes. However, I was not really prepared for the impact of voluntarily leaving the company that had become my home away from home over the previous 12 years.
To be sure there were a host of good reasons to make the transition. There was a toxic culture in the organization and one that I no doubt participated in – though I would have never believed that at the time. At the company I was approached about a role change, one that had the potential to be more lucrative, but not in a career direction that I was interested in pursuing. I firmly believe in choices. And while still passionate about the business, I had lost the influence that I once had internally.
So I left. I left on good terms. I spoke fairly regularly with the CEO and referred a number of opportunities their way. But change was not happening professionally for me. Personally, I was out networking, or trying to. It is more of a challenge when you are an introvert. I was getting fitter, trimmer, and being more introspective than I had been in some time. But change was not happening for me professionally. I did a week-long cleanse fast and that felt good. I became a vegetarian slowly, and that felt good. First giving up red meat, than pork a few months later, than all four-legged critters a few weeks later, then all poultry by New Years and finally seafood. I dropped 40 lbs and have that kept that off two years later.
These changes were difficult at times for my family. But, my wife and daughter are two of the most wonderfully supportive ladies that ever were. Not to say that there was never a cross word, but hey I was imposing some pretty radical changes on myself and there was spillover. Did not matter, the unconditional love was there and it helped. But still change was not happening professionally for me. One thing I learned, and I really already knew this is, that I don’t get to dictate how fast change will happen. I don’t get to dictate what the change will actually be and I don’t get to dictate… you get the picture.
I learned incredible things about myself. Things that I kinda, sorta knew but pushed down deep inside because I did not want to feel these things. I did not want to feel vulnerable. One of my favorite things to say was “I have one feeling you can’t hurt it.” and “You are the reason that I don’t like people” another favorite to create distance between myself and others. You know what. I inflicted more damage to myself with these ideas. I embraced them, I was known to most people by these and similar ideas. In the end, I am a very sensitive person. I don’t have to wear those feelings on my sleeve, but I do acknowledge them at least to myself, to my family and over time I will with the world at large.
Okay, now we are also starting to see some professional change, I am now doing a little consulting, but seven months into my search for a new career and still not the professional change that I want. Wow, you means this change stuff is not just going to happen, when, how and where I want it to? What did I sign myself up for?
Twice, maybe three times my wife came home to find me curled up in a fetal position as I questioned my sanity at making such an incredibly stupid decision. She helped me forgive myself, reminded me that things would work out and it was exactly what I needed at that moment. Thank You my dear. At the end of tunnel, I went back to work, doing something I enjoy, working for a great CEO and the professional change came.
Meanwhile, much change has taken place personally. The man who said and meant “I never tasted an animal that I did not like” is now a vegetarian. The guy who created a grand canyon of distance between himself and his own feelings is now experiencing them, and being more generous of spirit with others. The person who could happily say that “sarcasm is just one more service that I offer” now routinely looks for the silver lining.
And with all that change, came one great big gift. I learned that I was not such a bad person. Oh sure, I slip and slide. I get upset and rant, I from time to time over react, can be lazy and must refrain from cursing the world when change does not happen on my timetable. But today, I am also, Occasionally Serene.