Some people probably read the title of this article and had a small panic attack.
A year ago, I would've as well. But one day, something shifted in me.
I was about to switch jobs, and I realized the horrible, sinking feeling of going into another environment I'd probably hate was scarier than not having a job at all.
I realized that what my heart wanted was stronger than the fear of not having a streaming income source.
So, I slept on it. I meditated. I asked friends, family and colleagues.
I heard a lot of stories and a lot of fears, but I kept hearing my heart urging me on. I booked some travel for a few weeks after my intended “quit date” to force myself to honor what my heart wanted, and then I quit.
After I quit, I thought I would be more scared, more fearful and more doubtful.
Though I did have moments of fear and doubt, I had more moments of clarity, tranquility, ease and trust.
Here are the three best life lessons I learned from my experience:
1. Quitting my job made me trust myself.
Having a job is a form of security. You do your thing from 9-to-5, and you get money in return to allow yourself to live.
I realized security is a strange and sad illusion. It's what we hold on to or emphasize because it's an easy way to feel in control of lives because of what it allows us to do (House! Cars! Food! Kids! Vacation!).
However, I didn't have an income source for a few months and lived off my savings, and yet, I somehow knew that everything would be OK.
2. I followed the path of love more easily.
There were a lot of detractors – family, friends, recruiters – who told me quitting my job without another one lined up would be a huge mistake.
They said I would lose leverage, that it would be much harder to find my next job.
I also heard the very loud and very practical voices in my head telling me that this is unchartered territory, and it may be a really bad idea.
This was all counter to what my heart was telling me.
Call it intuition, your gut or God, but I decided to listen to the feelings in my heart and follow the path of love rather than listening to those voices in my head pulling me into the abyss of fear.
Taking the path of love is a constant exercise I had to undertake (and still do) because the doubt and fear creep in quite often. But, the love is constant underneath all that.
I trusted in that love, and that has become centering for me. It's like my North Star when I really tune into it.
It usually doesn't fail me, and I am learning to listen to it more often.
(Side note: I found a job after all the traveling and self-reflection. I was offered not only one, but three jobs for the taking.)
3. I can hear my own voice again, and I can really listen to it.
When I was working, I had emails and calls and instant messages and meetings, and everyone wanted something from me.
It was all I had known for 13 years, and I hadn't really questioned it. Most jobs were fine. Some were even great.
So, the cacophony of technology screaming at me never seemed to really bother me.
“I do yoga, and I meditate,” I would tell myself. Though when the bells, dings and rings were gone and I truly began paving my own way, I realized I wasn't sure that I really ever heard what my own voice was saying.
We all have an inner voice speaking to us, but we often do not slow down enough. We do not turn down the distractions enough to really listen to it.
I finally did, and I now know that a) I think I may have just been conditioned to take the corporate path, but am not sure that it was truly what I wanted, b) I don't know the last time I really heard what my heart was telling me and where it was guiding me in life and c) I want to live an authentic life, and I will die trying because I want it more than I want a job.
So, was I scared? Yes, I was definitely scared at times when I was jobless by choice, and I still am scared at times as I pave my own way.
But then, I hear my heart telling me that the path of love will win every time.
I breathe into that, and I let it guide me instead.