Chance is always powerful, let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish. ~Ovid
Last week I had coffee with a woman whose son went to school with my older son; she and I hadn’t seen each other in a few years, and I was pleasantly surprised when I received her email and asked if we could meet for coffee: she had recently left her job and was investigating other career options.
Over coffee, she shared with me the challenges of working full time, teenagers, and commuting. She said she felt there wasn’t enough time to enjoy life, that she felt like she was on a hamster wheel; she wanted a more fulfilling life and was looking to make a change.
I smiled as she relayed the details, which were pretty much the same as I had heard the day before from a former classmate I had talked to during a luncheon at my high school’s Alumnae Homecoming. She too had questioned whether her current role, a role that has spanned her 28-year career, was fulfilling; she too was wondering if now was the time to make a change.
I refocused my attention on my friend; she was asking for my advice and wanted to hear a bit more about my journey as a coach. I told her about my work experience and why I left and how it took some time to get acclimated to a new routine since I was no longer adhering to a required work schedule. My journey as a coach? Where did I begin?
I confessed to her that while I loved coaching clients and students, the best part of being a coach was helping others, but what I didn’t know and didn’t expect was the amount of personal growth I would enjoy as a result of coaching. As a coach, I feel better equipped to navigate through my family’s health issues, I am enjoying more effective communication with my teenage boys, and I have developed a relationship with my Dad that I never thought possible.
We talked some more about coaching programs, websites, and incomes. She looked a bit surprised when I told her I wasn’t worried about my income, or rather, I no longer worried about my income. I used to worry about it to the point that it would keep me up at night, but not anymore. I may miss my old salary but going back to that life would mean I would be venturing back on the hamster wheel.
Instead, I told her, I set goals and create my dreams: start a blog, write a book, spend time with my family. Those are personal and they are important, not chasing a salary.
We agreed to stay in touch and as I drove off, I thought about our conversation and the new chapter just waiting to be written by my friend. I know she will do what is best for her.
When I got home, I started digging through my files for information for my book, a piece of paper fluttered out of a file folder marked “Personal”; it was my letter of resignation dated December 3, 2014. I hadn’t seen it since I sent it off to my old CEO. I skimmed over the letter, my eyes stopping in the middle of the document:
“While life-changing decisions are not always easy, sometimes they are necessary to help an individual achieve their personal goals. Last year was a challenging one as our family faced my mother’s cancer and my mother-in-law’s recent stroke and subsequent passing. These experiences have made me step back, reflect, and determine what my life values are, and what is important to me as well as to my family.
After careful thought and consideration, I have realized my current assignment do not honor my personal values, and that, despite trying to make it work with an adjusted schedule, my personal life and professional goals are not being fulfilled: I am no longer passionate about my work and my role in my current assignment.”
I sat and took in the words. Funny, I don’t remember typing them up per se, I only remember feeling resolute after making the decision to resign.
As I read the resignation letter a second time, I thought about the chance I had taken, the chance to discover opportunities I may have missed due to lack of patience, by being stuck on the hamster wheel, or settling for the status quo.
Thinking about my coffee meeting, I realized I have developed the patience of an experienced angler, quietly casting my line into the water. I can see how the ripple effect I am creating is having an impact on my life and others due to the courage and determination of placing values first.
Courage and determination vs. running? I’ll take the pond over the hamster wheel any day.