Around this time two years ago I was in a professional funk.
I was in a job that was increasingly making me feel unhappy. I became so anxious about going into work that, each morning, I experienced nausea about the day ahead and panic attacks were back on the scene after an absence of many years. I felt stuck, stifled creatively and worried.
One day I confided in someone outside my working environment. She asked me where I wanted to be in the years ahead. I replied saying I wanted to spend time exploring Devon and writing books. I laughed as I said it because it seemed preposterous. She suggested I make a plan to get there. Suddenly it felt less absurd.
Fast forward and I now work part-time in a job I love and this year I started writing a book.
It was a big process of exploration emotionally and professionally. I saw how a lot of my constraints were psychological or emotional – worry, fear of change – and others were helpful from a practical point of view. For example, clarifying my boundaries for travel distance, income levels, hours and industry preferences.
Rather than thinking ‘yes, but’ and placing barriers in my own way it became ‘yes, and’. Hypothetical thoughts became concrete, practical ways of getting to where I wanted to be.
Throughout this process I realised I had changed: I was not the person who had walked through that door at the new, shiny job seven years earlier. I wanted something different because I was different.
Part of the anxiety, the fear, was letting go both of what felt so familiar and the ‘old’ version of me.
But you don’t get anywhere by standing still, do you. We have to back ourselves, trust our instincts and embrace change. We do this all the time, don’t we? From the big to the small the mundane to the magnificent. It’s about facing issues and making the best decisions you can.
Rather than shutting down, I became opened up. I proactively looked at the jobs market, explored career options, discounted others and focused more on my own writing.
That’s not to say it was not easy. It was scary at times and frustrating but working out what the barriers were and what I needed to do to overcome them – including writing things down or talking to people I trusted – helped no end.
My journey of discovery made me realise my ambition to change was possible as long as I was prepared to put in the work; that is, searching within myself, asking tough questions, listening to good advice, being realistic, figuring out what best matched me and going about getting it.
I’ll talk another time about book writing although, if I am honest, I’ve had a bit of a shock. It’s really bloody hard. I spend most my time staring into space or frothing in frustration at my lack of ideas or, more to the point, that everyone else has already had All. The. Ideas.
PS: I’m acutely aware I am privileged in many ways: I live in a beautiful part of the world and I benefit from our country’s education, health and welfare system in ways that others may not.
My viewpoint in this blog is based on my own experience but I’ve tried hard to be objective. I hope you take something from this even if it’s just motivation to try something magnificent…
All my love