This has been a milestone of a year for me! It is the year that I feel as though I’ve finally conquered my ego in order to truly add Life to My Years.
A year ago this week, I took a giant leap out of my ‘comfort zone.’ In my unhealthy mind, it was a step backwards. I had worked my heart out for 30 years in high-level, big-title positions, culminating in a business of my own – being my own boss. It was 30 years of long, LONG hours – starting many times before the sun was up, then bringing more work home and working all night and weekends, combined with crazy bumper-to-bumper commutes (2 hours each way, many days, in traffic), and dealing, frequently, with unkind, unreasonable and unappreciative people. I KNEW, early on, that the stress was affecting my emotional and physical health, but, being an over-achiever and ‘fixer,’ I couldn’t break free. Even after I came to the realization that my obsession with my career and enslavement to my ridiculously unreasonable work ethic was shortening my life and robbing it of true joy, I still could not free myself from the lure of ‘position, prestige and wealth.’ I KNEW that I did not need it – the power, the title, the money. I had managed and planned well, and was living a completely debt-free life. But, my EGO would not allow me to scale back. What would people say if I stepped down the ladder? How could I accept less money when I worked so hard to get to the level that I had attained? I stressed, I cried, I complained (my apologies and gratitude go out to a few of my ‘bestest’ friends who lent very sympathetic ears), but still could not break free, despite knowing that I was quickly falling down the abyss – I was losing my self, my self-worth, my self-esteem, my joie de vivre.
There was no single breaking point – it was cumulative. I just impulsively submitted a toned-down resume in response to a job posting I came across on a particularly stressful day dominated by a particularly demanding and unappreciative client, and then forgot about it. When I was called for an interview, nearly a year after submission, I convinced myself to go in and ‘talk,’ fully expecting that I would reject it rather than step down from my ‘position.’ To my surprise, I left the interview with a feeling of joy! I didn’t care that I wouldn’t be ‘the boss’ – I had been ‘the boss,’ and was tired of it. I longed to be the hard-working assistant again! I longed to be on a team, rather than leading a team. I GOT the job, and started my new career a year ago. Now, looking back, I wonder, ‘WHAT THE HECK TOOK ME SO LONG?’ I have ZERO stress, and work with an office full of people who smile, laugh, support each other, show genuine concern and compassion for each other – who actually say things like “how are you feeling?” when you’ve been ill, and “how was your vacation?” upon your return. And, the greatest gift of all – the phrase “THANK YOU” has returned to my life! Money and prestige cannot provide that – it has to come from people – the working environment, the community of co-workers, the unified intention of serving the community, and the respect shown to the workforce through benefits, words and actions.
I got a call over the weekend from Gallup (the polling people). I usually say ‘not interested,’ but, this time, I agreed to participate in their survey. One of the subjects they covered was “Job Satisfaction.” As I was answering “COMPLETELY satisfied” to nearly every category, it dawned on me … over the course of the 30 prior years of full time, uninterrupted employment/ladder climbing, I had NEVER been “completely satisfied” in ANY category. My ego was being serviced at the expense of my spirit. Now that I’ve conquered my ego, and have given myself permission to ‘just be happy,’ my 9-to-5 is ADDING Life to My Years instead of taking my life away.