I do not address work often in my travel blog. This is ironic because I came to Barbados on a visa that allows me to work remotely. There is not much to write. It has not been a focus as it has been in my past.
When the pandemic hit, I lost all my contracts. The suddenness of having no projects was so dramatic that I took it as a sign to pause. I decided to figure out what work should look like going forward.
But the motivation never quite returned. This is most concerning to those that have known me for a long time. For two decades I was a borderline workaholic. Not just in relation to the hours that I put in, but my preoccupation with my career and the validation my roles gave me.
But here is the thing. I am happier now than I have been in my adult life. I sleep most nights. My migraines are under control. I signed a contract last week that will keep me busy for the next while, and I no longer stress about what comes next.
It is my hard work, along with privilege, that got me to the place that I am today. But it came at a price. When I was 34, I took a leave of absence to travel. I was completely burnt out. I had chronic back pain, couldn’t sleep, and woke up anxious most days. These symptoms practically disappeared when I was away. I returned to quit my job, sell my condo, and move to Ireland.
Such drastic measures are not a requirement. I wonder what would have happened if I had tuned into my body sooner. The anxiety could have been a clue that things were not working. I might have saved myself physical pain and mental anguish. I knew that I had to leave that job in Toronto much earlier than I did. I gave a litany of excuses to my friends about why I couldn’t leave. Most of them had to do with letting others down and all of them were fear-based about what would come next. In the meantime, I became more disillusioned and more difficult to work with.
The Great Resignation is happening in America. Apparently, the pandemic has given others a chance to pause and think about what they would like from their work.
If we tune into our mind and body, it will tell us if we are still on the right track.
If we tune into others and their fears, we will stay in jobs that we don’t like. We allow a frightened employer to call us back to offices when we want to continue to work from home.
These are the three questions that I have been asking myself:
- What do I love to do?
- How much is enough to live a good life?
- Why am I working this way, and does it continue to serve me?
I can’t say that I have the answers, but I am curious about some of my thoughts:
- I love writing this travel blog. I love travelling (and the urge gets stronger as the pandemic drags on)!
- I need way less to live a good life than I once imagined. This includes a smaller car, house, and wardrobe.
- I have deep programming that sometimes causes me to do “busy work” so that I feel productive…when I could be surfing.
I am curious about what you come up with when you think of these three questions.
While it is never an obligation, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Your email is private and just lets you know your comment has been posted.
Having never been focused on a specific career I operated under the philosophy of do the best you can in whatever job/career you chose or fell into. I never had plans to be a surgeon so that worked well for me. I was let go by my company in 2018 after 32 years of loyal and dedicated service in a senior mgmt role that came with the usual pressures and expectation of results. I’ll be honest I was in shock…I had always done well and advanced in the organization even through multiple corporate re-inventions. I did not see myself as “the person” who would be let go…naieve I know. All that to say it was the best thing the happened to me…I found that “me” who exisited before I had to work full time for someone else…I hate to say rediscovered because I am not 20 anymore. I can now say I dont feel those artificial pressures, I have accomplished some things I had always wanted to do but never had the time…like join a band (well 2), reignited the inner artist etc. Now being on the other side I agree with Sheri…you only get one life and as my Father used to say “Time and tide wait for no one”
Ian, I think that rediscovered is a great word! It can be done at any age. I am doing it now in mid-life…that is if I become a centurion, which is not outside the realm of possibility. It is amazing that once the pressures of an all-consuming role are removed that parts of us can emerge. Maybe the organization’s surprise change in plans was a blessing to you. Now you are a rock star – how cool is that!
I can totally relate to this! Those three questions are questions that I’m asking myself now, and it’s hard to separate them from what our answers “should” be! This year my mantra has been “I am open to creative new opportunities,” and that includes the opportunity to answer those questions in a way I might not have before:)
Yeah Vanessa! Let’s keep asking ourselves what we are doing because we think we should and what we need to do because our heart and soul tells us to!
So here are my thoughts on your questions:
Heather, I love that you are asking the questions and that you have answers. These answers may change over time, as I think that they do for all of us that keep asking them. COVID has been so difficult and I know that teachers are struggling. The joy of interacting with students has been stripped away. COVID has peeled away the top layer of a lot of roles to expose the things that are not working.