This is the second post in this series about my quest to find my dream job. But before going any further, I thought I would give you a short story about how I came to find myself on this search for answers to my career questions.
A few months ago, I finished up a maternity cover contract. I had passed my PhD. I was young, wild and free. Everyone was telling me the world is your oyster.
It should have been one of the most exciting times of my life, but I had burned out. I was sleeping for 11-12 hours a night and sometimes napping during the day. Burn out crept up on me slowly. I was exhausted emotionally and physically after handing in my thesis. Finding the energy to finish that book whilst working, felt impossible. Turns out I had to go into energy debt to get over the line. Towards the end, I had to drag myself to the desk and force myself to turn on the computer, when all I wanted to do was sleep for a thousand years. Follow that up with some intense night shifts, leading to sleep deprivation – you have a recipe for disaster. The manager of my energy bank account came knocking. You borrowed some future well-being to reach that goal – now you must repay it.
It started back last year when I wrote a post called Brain Fog. Little did I know, this was my body and mind beginning to give up the fight.
I went to the first doctor and told her my symptoms. I was struggling with poor memory, I felt really foggy, I was tired all the time and getting sick more easily. She told me that night shift was tough on the body and considering the year I had had (and no holiday for two years), I was probably just a little overwhelmed. So I went away thinking I just needed a gin and a lie down. But then I came down with the gnarly virus that puts you in bed for two weeks. My nervous system and immune system were completely fried and I was suffering from anxiety. It felt as though the inside of my head was full of white noise – making decisions was nearly impossible. That was that – my brain and body had decided that if I wouldn’t take a break, they would force me to.
The whole experience led me to re-evaluate my situation. Something is wrong here. If I carry on this way, I will work myself to death.
I had officially found my limit line. If I couldn’t rely on myself to put my well-being first in every situation, then I couldn’t expect anyone else to respect that boundary either. I also realised I was choosing the wrong jobs for me – the type of work that sucked the life right out of me. And so, I decided that it was time to find a career I love so much that the energy of life would rush through me, rather than being blocked and trapped.
It has been said that people who experience stress doing a job they love don’t have the same health risk factors as those who are stressed doing something they do not love. Stress is a part of everyday life; I think it is pointless trying to eliminate it. But what if we spent the majority of our time doing what we enjoyed – then that stress wouldn’t be so bothersome. It may even charge us up and propel us forward.
There are a couple of barriers when it comes to finding a job we love. Firstly, we don’t really know exactly what we want to do and we worry about getting it wrong (tips for this in the following post). But mostly, we worry about our finances. It can be hard to see how living our dream will pay the bills. Many of the greatest success stories came after a period of poverty and nobody wants to experience poverty. J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter whilst on government assistance – but she is now the wealthiest novelist of all time. If she had found the cushy job at the great company, chances are she never would have hit her rock bottom. The place where she decided that after losing it all, she would just do what made her happy every day….write novels.
I believe that we all have an internal knowing. Buried underneath the ideas of others, the negative messages and the inner chatter, is a wise one. We all possess our own little sensei who knows the truth.
Under my inner chatter of how will I pay rent? What will I miss out on by taking this salary cut? I have to buy this, because I need it…there was another, very quiet voice. And it said this…
Money won’t be a problem for you. You will find the financial security you crave and then some. But it will only show up when you find the thing you love doing and do it every day. Until then, it will stay just out of your reach. And just so you know – once you find the thing that fulfils you every day, you won’t even care about money anymore. Don’t you just love the irony? Now get on with it.
So, I wrote myself a three million dollar cheque and popped it into my wallet. It is there as a reminder every time I go to the grocery store and walk past the $12 Gorgonzola, that one day money will not matter – but that I have a task at hand if I want to earn it. I have to earn it doing something I love. I didn’t come here to work my arse off to pay for someone else’s yacht in the viaduct, using the hours of my life. I came here to have fun and find a way to get paid to do it.
Next post – What Makes Us Tick?
Much love xx