I officially quit my job last week Monday. I now have roughly three weeks to put my plans into action since it just happens to be the shortest month of the year (no pressure…)
The only problem is, that I actually really don’t know what it is that I want to do yet. Fortunately, I have at least reached a very clear conclusion about what it is that I definitely do not want to do. That realisation has severely limited my options and choices. There are lots of jobs I could apply for, many skills I could apply. However, my top priority in life, is ethics. Whatever I do needs to be filtered through my extremely strict sense of ethics.
This is, of course, one of the big reasons why I so often find myself in this boat that I am now. But then I never seem to know how to turn the boat around and I often become overwhelmed by the deluge of everything life throws at me and trying to deal with it all while still retaining my ethical stance.
The support group that this blog is, has already proved exceedingly useful. I can definitely recommend surrounding yourself with friends if you’re starting on this path, should you ever consider doing it. Even if all of you are doing something different, with different goals at different places – stay in touch and talk one another through it. I’ve not had this kind of mutual support system before, and I firmly believe that this is one of the biggest reasons why I always end up scared and running back to former comforts, unhealthy as they may be.
On the day I resigned, I was very stressed. Not least of all because literally half of our department had already resigned and would be leaving only three days later and I had not informed the boss of my intentions yet (even though I had decided that I would be leaving before some of them even started working there).
The actual resignation discussion went far smoother than I expected and, after walking out of the office, I could feel the weight lifting from my shoulders. Even though I still had a month left to work, I was free. Right there. Saying it out loud, putting it in writing had finally made real what I’d been talking about since August last year.
But then the other side of that coin came down a couple of days later. After revelling in my freedom for a day or two, it hit me really hard when I realised fully what I’d done. I had just given up a decent job without anything else lined up. Traditional wisdom teaches us that this is one of the dumbest things to do ever. I had a month in which I needed to get my “future” sorted out. How would I ever do it?
Even though I was crystal clear that I was done with my company (I wrote a not-so-subtle resignation letter making it very clear that I would not be returning), I was (and still am) nowhere near certain what it is that I want to do. Whenever anyone at work asks me, “What are you going to do now?” my more light-hearted response is, “I have no idea. This is as far as I’ve planned…” My somewhat more serious response is, “Not this.”
Strangely, I find comfort in both those responses. It’s actually a really good feeling to know you’re going somewhere, but for once, not knowing where that somewhere is. Then, last night, I finished reading The Art of the Idea again, and in chapter 20 (“It’s not the CIRCLE of LIFE, it’s the CIRCUS of LIFE”), there’s this piece:
“We have to find our angles of inspiration in our own way. We know they exist, we just have to learn how to call on them.
“Not knowing in advance exactly how the call will be answered, shouldn’t halt the journey. The fact that we start out not sure of where we’re going is what makes the quest so noble. There’s a little Don Quixote in all original ideas. It’s just those windmills are in our minds and we should never be scared to tilt at them.”
After sharing that with a whole bunch of friends, I picked up Screw It, Let’s Do It by Sir Richard Branson, which Danielle had recommended I give a try (I didn’t know much about Richard Branson before this, to be honest). It’s a tiny book and I’m already three-quarters through it, but it’s so reaffirming to read that someone like Branson has never “played by the rules” and followed these “traditional wisdoms” that teach us we have to slave away eight hours a day in jobs we probably don’t like, to pay bills for things we don’t need, to get married, have children, teach them this same cycle… It just reminded me that pretty much no great person in history achieved that greatness through following the status quo. They broke the rules, invented their own, went against the grain…
And that’s really the only thing that makes sense. How can you ever achieve something new by following the same procedures as before? Adding the same quantity of substance A to the same quantity of substance B will give you substance C every single time. Unless you change something. As John Hunt also says in the same observation as mentioned above, “It’s difficult to have an epiphany if all you want revealed is what you already know.”
I’ll probably never reach the levels of success Richard Branson has, but that doesn’t bother me in the least. What I want from all of this, is a life that I can be proud of living. A life I deem worth living. Because the one I’ve been living, is not one I consider worth living.
So… Here I am. Free from (at least some of) my former mental restrictions with a world of possibilities before me. And enormous chances of failure. But, at the same time, infinite chances for success.
Here I go…