One year ago I walked into my managers office and burst into tears. After 9 years of working at the same company, I told him that I was quitting my job. The first thing my manager asked me: “Why are you so emotional about it?”. The thing is, I actually still liked my job and the people I worked with. It just didn’t fit with who I had become anymore.
I had a nagging feeling in my gut that told me something needed to change. I wasn’t motivated anymore, especially about earning a lot of money for a corporate business doing…. what? What was I contributing to this world?
I started to notice that feeling during my pregnancy leave. My son was just two months old and I was looking to go back to work in four weeks. Something a lot of my friends had looked forward to at the end of their leave, and I expected to have the same thing. But the excitement did not arrive. It actually got worse when my start date came closer.
My thought was: “You’ll get back into it, you’ll get motivated in no time once you are there”. Well, no surprise: it did not come back. I loved working together with my colleagues, had a lot of freedom in my job and there was room for creativity. All values that were important to me. But the nagging feeling remained.
I started thinking about what I was contributing to a better world. And it came down to next to nothing. I was earning someone a lot of money, was not convinced that we were actually helping our clients, let alone the planet. I realized, with the birth of my son, that a transformation had taken place. Something that was already brewing in me for a longer time: A desire to truly help people, to change society, to build a better place for all.
In recent years I have become obsessed with self-development and thought, why not explore that as a career option? I had started my own company when my son was just born and I was longing for more of that. And if you talk about freedom, having your own company often seems the solution to getting it.
So that is where Heartwork came in. I ran into Frank, who I knew from my previous company, and Nadja at a wedding and mustered up the courage to ask him to drink coffee sometime. (Some additional information for context: Frank was CFO at the time, I was a jr. Project Manager. The power distance thing still sticks 😉.)
Two weeks later we were walking his dog in the luscious greens of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. Talking and really connecting on passion, the human self and doing what you love. One month after that I quit my job and started working with Heartwork.
So why was I so emotional?
It was a really scary decision. Leaving something that felt safe and comfortable, a place where I knew what to expect. With people that I already knew for quite some years. And because it was a decision that was heartfelt. I was choosing me. What is important to me. Even though I had no idea what the outcome would be.
Looking back I see that I was keeping myself in my uncomfortable comfort zone. The pain and discomfort of that place was, for the longest time, not large enough to choose for the uncertainty and unknowing of taking a leap of faith. Often when you stand before the decision to choose for your passion or for something that is closer to your values, it feels daunting. Because we know what we have and can expect in our current situation, even though it might not fulfill us.
What happens? We look at ALL the possible obstacles on the road:
- What will people say or think?
- Will I be able to pay my bills?
- What if I fail?
Instead of looking at what it could bring us:
- What if my days are filled with love and fulfilling work?
- What if I meet new and inspiring people?
- What if I learn more about who I am?
- What if I actually contribute to a better world?
For me it took about 5 or 6 years, to take the leap. From that tiny gut feeling that started to arise, to a point where it grew so large that I could not ignore it anymore. In the meantime, I shushed it with new and exciting career opportunities, focus on status and money and telling myself I was contributing in different ways. And that is completely OK. Everyone has their own path to travel and choices to make.
Know that you are always in control. You are in charge of the decisions you make. You are only one choice away from a completely different path.
So how do I feel about my scary decision one year later?
I never regretted it for a second. Working with Heartwork is like a warm bath and roller coaster at the same time. Running my own company next to it is a challenge as well. I have learned so much, about myself, about entrepeneurship. My passion to do good has grown to almost naive proportions. Getting out of my comfort zone is almost a daily thing, but as challenge is one of my values, I couldn’t be more happy with that. So I am excited about where I am and looking forward to what this adventure will bring in the future. And oh yeah, I can still pay my bills and have gotten nothing but support from people around me 😉.