I have a complicated relationship with work. It’s been ongoing but with more vigor for the last five years. I remember the first day it started. I was talking to my new financial advisor about retirement. I had been self-employed at that point for almost 9 years–I was only 28. Yet I felt like I was running behind. I was late to start the retirement saving game (even if only in my head). I didn’t have a college education. I had few skills outside of my trade.
I was a massage therapist and my body was telling me to slow down. I had a successful nutrition business, and my heart wasn’t in it the way it had been. I needed my body and my heart to do my jobs successfully. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I couldn’t see myself retiring doing what I was doing. That scared me.
Technically I had 39 working years left. The idea of doing massage or coaching for 39 more years paralyzed me.
I felt very little drive to keep doing it, let alone for another 39 years. I panicked about what I would do if I wasn’t doing that. So I went back to college. I got a degree. And there I sat, still unsure about what I wanted to do.
However, my life looks really different today than it did that day talking to a financial advisor. I am re-married and I work alongside my husband helping with his businesses. I do a little massage and a little coaching. I do various jobs, and I focus on saving for my retirement. Recently I tried to work for a big company that came with all the things my business didn’t:
Paid sick leave
Company paid retirement
I imagine the blah blah blah tells you I probably didn’t last long. I didn’t. I had been blinded by my own idea of the perfect career and future retirement to realize that what I was doing was working.
On top of all my work challenges, I’ve always been a person who had to work to have fun. It took discipline to be someone who laughed, real belly laughs that you hear come from babies. The ones that make your heart skip a beat. I wanted to laugh more like a kid. I wanted to have more fun. It was my goal, the mantra I carried around in my back pocket for all of 2021 after I moved out of my home and filed for divorce. Have more fun. Laugh more. Be more spontaneous. Stop taking everything so seriously. I wanted to travel more. Be a more relaxed version of myself, the on I had visualized but had yet to meet.
Right before I took this job, I was her. I had succeeded (though there is always room for growth)! Except on the days I thought too hard about my ‘work.’ On those days I was reverting back to the old me.
Not far into my new job, I knew it wasn’t going to work for me. For one, I didn’t love the job itself. It was too slow for me. There were other things, but ultimately it wasn’t for me. Most importantly I saw the goal I’d set for myself in 2021 slowly going away one day at a time. I realized what I had built for myself did work. Not just at work, I had created a life for myself that really made me happy. Yeah, maybe it needed a little tweaking, but not the total rehaul I had just committed.
In the 9 days at my new job, I worked 8-5 in a small dark room with little to fill my time. I missed my old life terribly. On many occasions, I sat in my office and cried. I had made a mistake and now what?
Quitting felt like failing. I wasn’t ready to fail. Until I was. By the 9th day, I decided that I was okay with failing at this, even if that wasn’t really what was happening–I actually feel proud of myself for listening to my intuition. If you reading see it as failing, know that I am okay with that. For 8 days I told myself to give it more time, but I knew deep down more time wasn't going to change a thing.
I guess it all boils down to a big lesson. My relationship with work was complicated. I needed a real-life lesson. I am a “learn through trial and error” or “learn the hard way” type of person. I needed a lesson, and a lesson is what I got.
I have not felt so good about what my day-to-day looked like in a long time. I feel so much gratitude and appreciation for my work right now. My work is a basket full of random tasks–a little of this, and a little of that–and writing this blog is part of my work.