“Oh shit… What have I done… Maybe I shouldn’t have… What if things don’t work out… What will people think of me… This might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done…”
These were the doubts going through my mind the night before my final day working for a corporate machine.
Rewind to a week ago. I’d spent a few weeks waiting for my employer to process my voluntary redundancy request. The offer finally came through and I accepted it (yes, they’re paying me to leave). I’m pretty sure it’s the best decision I’ve ever made, but it was far from easy.
A couple of years ago, I spoke with someone about maybe taking voluntary redundancy. The response was something like “you’d be mad to in this economy; it will be so hard to find something else”. At the time this was the kind of excuse I was making to myself too, so it didn’t help matters.
Compared to a lot of people, I had it pretty good, so why risk changing anything?
Another year went by. Another round of redundancies came and went. Yet again, I justified why staying in a job I didn’t like anymore was the right thing to do. I told myself things were bound to get better pretty soon. I told myself I was lucky to have a job at all.
But deep down the urge to leave was gnawing away at me. I couldn’t ignore it any longer and needed to figure out what was going on.
After a lot of time thinking about it, I finally realised that all it came down to was being afraid.
Being afraid of what might happen.
Being afraid of what people would think of me.
Being afraid of what could go wrong.
Being afraid of change.
Being afraid of succeeding.
It took me a couple of years to recognise and face up to this reality.
I found it hard to admit that I was afraid as I saw it as a sign of weakness and failure. What I didn’t realise for a long time is that it’s the complete opposite. It takes strength to admit you’re afraid and put yourself out there. Since facing up to it and sharing my thoughts with others I’ve felt a lot more positive.
Admitting it to myself and others had a profound effect on my ways of thinking. As I talked through my employment options earlier this year, I felt more connected with my true feelings. I knew what the right choice was. I knew I had to do something about my situation or I would regret it later.
So I took a sabbatical, had a few months off and then applied for and accepted voluntary redundancy. That would be it. No safety net of a job to fall back on. No idea if things would work out.
Then the doubts came. They crept up on me the night before I was due to finish my job of 5+ years, attacking all sides of my brain. It was the Resistance, trying to cripple my escape. But not this time.
If you haven’t heard of the Resistance before, it’s a term Steven Pressfield uses in The War of Art. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in the past couple of years and in it, he writes:
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
Now, as I write this, I do it with a new found sense of freedom. I have won a battle with the Resistance and come out of it more alive than ever.
It’s time to start living my unlived life.