I recently read a wonderful Op Ed, called “Will you do it later, Or will you do it now?” In this post, author Carolyn Highland compared making tough life decisions to waking up in your tent in the middle of the night and having to pee. This, hilariously, really struck a chord with me. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve woken up in my tent and dreaded leaving the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag, put on shoes and plod out into the frigid night air to go pee. You never, ever want to leave, but you can’t go back to sleep until you do. It’s like ripping off a band-aid. Just do it and you feel so much better.
I have recently been faced with some big life decisions that I have been dreading. Change is hard. I’ve had so much change the last two years. I packed up my life and moved to Colorado with Brian. We bought a house. I got laid off from my wonderful career with Title Nine. I stepped out of my comfort zone and took on a new challenge, managing a big, high-profile store for a big company. That is a LOT of change in a short span of time. But change helps us to grow as people, so we shouldn’t shy away from it.
After several months of intense discontent, I was faced with my latest opportunity for change: decide to stick it out in my current job, or leave my career to pursue other goals and find more fulfillment in my life.
On one hand, my current position was finally improving. After months of frustration, failure, stress and an insane amount of work, I felt like I was finally showing the powers that be, that I could be successful. I had an awesome, hard-working and motivated team around me. On the other hand, I was unhappy. I was treading water and it was getting harder and harder to stay afloat every day. I felt like despite my work and dedication, I wasn’t gaining any ownership over my store and my work. I was a robot; working too much and unable to enjoy living in the beautiful mountains I am so blessed to be in. Brian and I had almost no time off together this winter, which sucks since that is a big reason why we moved out here in the first place! I didn’t feel like I was making a positive impact on the world any more, which is extremely important to me.
I felt afraid to leave my job for a couple of reasons. First and foremost in everyone’s mind: Money. I didn’t want to leave a job that gave me a great salary and great benefits for the unknown. We have a whole house to remodel, so we need every penny. Secondly, I was afraid that leaving my current job would be equivalent to throwing in the towel. Was I quitting? The competitor in me is way too stubborn to quit. I would rather suffer through frustration and defeat than quit.
“One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.” -Ziad K Abdelnour
On the other hand: Was it simply time for me to walk away? Should I pursue different dreams? Should I put my family first and try to be more present in our life together? Have I proven what I needed to prove in the world of retail? Could I even prove my worth in an environment where I felt restricted and caged? Would I really get back to my happy place, or would I just be exchanging one stressful job for another?
Like Carolyn Highland pointed out, it was just like debating whether to get up to pee in a tent in the middle of the night. Should I stay and enjoy the comfort and warmth of the familiar as long as possible, or should I launch out in the cold night air and get it over with so I can just feel better?
I decided that change was worth it and I needed to get out and pursue a different path. It is so important to me to have a positive impact on the lives of others and I didn’t feel my current path would allow me to have that impact. Time with Brian was equally important. In my world that runs on stress and coffee all the time, I needed to step out of the grind and be present in our life together. I was making the decision for ME and my happiness. That tells me I’m making the right decision. I’m not throwing in the towel and quitting. I’m just trading UP for something better.
So I’m getting on my rain jacket, unzipping my tent and getting out there into the cold night air. And I know I’ll feel immensely better as soon as I do and I will get back in my warm, cozy sleeping bag soon.