What I learned when I quit the rat race.

“A version of this post originally ran on the Lead Change Group site on 18th September 2017 and can be read at www.leadchangegroup.com.

 

“The future is called ‘perhaps,’ which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.”
Tennessee Williams

For thirty-three long years, climbing the corporate ladder was my only goal. Success to me was always being in the spotlight and reaching the top. To achieve my goal, I had worked hard and grown through the ranks. I had relentlessly pursued the dream of reaching the top. Yes, I did reach the top, traveled a lot, could make decisions, had power, influence, money, and everything that I had dreamt of. I loved my career.

But one day it all changed. After 33 years, the luster wore off. My job was no longer interesting to me. I felt trapped in the rat race.

I knew it was time to redefine my life and look at pursuing work that was more fulfilling. I decided it was time to call quits.

Transitioning to a New Way of Life

“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

So, I  sailed away from the safety of my corporate job and was ready to explore and discover the new world. Once I had made the decision, I had peace with myself and finally felt in control of my career again. I had to redefine what success meant to me and found that it is not always about the money you make, but is also about the happiness in life you gain.

What happened in my case is not unique. Many would have gone through similar experience. Once we quit the rat race,  we find a lot of time available to us.  However, after the initial feeling of being a free bird is over, concern takes over. The thought of nothing to do can be quite daunting. Not having a clear idea of what you plan to do next, can be even more terrifying.

In my case, I had thought about this day for a long time. I had a plan. I was not sure about the robustness of the plan, but I was ready for the new adventure. During this transition phase, one also requires remaining optimistic. Having a plan to start something new can help maintain optimism.

The Adventure Begins

The security of the corporate life when enjoyed for a long time tends to make us risk-averse.  It is normal to miss the comfort zone of the corporate life.  Unfortunately, it does not prepare us for the big change in life when we transition from its warm comfort to a life which is full of adventures.

Many things that I had planned did not work the way I had dreamt of. I had to redefine not just what success would be, but also the way I work. I was always passionate about coaching and mentoring. Equipped with my three decades of experience in the industry and a Coaching certification, I decided to help women grow in their career. Help them follow their dreams, align with their values,  and enjoy their work and career.

I had to develop new relationships and leverage existing networks to get projects that I was passionate about. After many falls for several months, I finally managed to get work that was fulfilling and gave me immense joy.

Lessons Learnt

Thinking back on my journey of last two years, I learned the following important lessons:

  • Plan this day well in advance. Be absolutely clear about what your goals are for the next phase of your career. Do not make any rash decision.
  • Clarify what is important to you and what is your priority. Money, happiness, fulfillment.
  • Think about your key skills and strengths which can make you successful.
  • Choose work that you are passionate about.
  • Be agile. You would have to try several things, build new relationships, redefine your plans till you hit the jackpot.
  • Be prepared for all the obstacles that would be thrown your way and the many discouragements that you would receive.
  •  Most important stay optimistic, as that will see you through.

If you are working on achieving your goals and leading a life you want, then don’t let fears get in your way.

      Life is a one-way street. No matter how many detours you take,
none of them leads back. So enjoy life’s every moment as none of
them will happen the same way again.
— Unknown