This year has been amazing in the people I met and the conversations I’ve had. I learned so much from simply listening. After a challenging time of scheduling one particular call (it took us over 3 months to get our calendars aligned), it was finally the day to connect with Kevin Susman and I am so glad I did. We had no agenda apart from learning about what we are creating in the world. He shared with me that many years ago he had that job everyone wanted, except for him. Don’t get me wrong. He loved what he did but it forced him to choose work over his family.
As he got promoted, his peer group shrunk and as a leader, his world of peers kept getting smaller. It seemed like everyone around him dreamed of having his job as a studio producer. He was so busy working that he sacrificed the time with his family and his newborn child. After a while, he realized that while he had the dream job and the power, the was missing out of the most important thing: his life. He needed flexibility and time for his family. He no longer needed work-life balance. He needed a life where work fit in.
And so the score became: Entrepreneur: +1 Corporate America: -1
Did this need to happen? Not really. Kevin would have simply stayed and thrived in his job had he received the support to have a career and a family life. Being available 24/7 to his company meant that he missed the first six months of his daughter’s life and had a relationship with his wife through the telephone (there were no Google Hangouts or Skype back then but that really would not have changed what was happening). And did the company he worked for have a work-life balance program? Yes but it was obviously not very effective as it was a nice slogan that was meaningless (as most are).
Life is short. Life is precious.
And yet, life can be complex. We can feel overwhelmed by too many choices or too few choices. Somewhere between being a carefree child of seven to an emotional teen of sixteen to a young adult of that magic drinking age of twenty-one (in some countries), our lives shift in terms of being grounded in who we are and what we want. And as we age, we learn that it is up to us to create and change so we can simply live.
It also takes a major life event for us to make a change — a loss, an illness, a near death experience, a breakup, a pink slip, a major disappointment. We need to re-program ourselves not to wait. It scares the shit out of us that we may not need to delay our lives and be able to make choices. That voice in our head keeps asking us what if we will be disappointed when we finally divorce our job, for example, and realize that we are running around naked and confused about who we are? It is much safer to stay where we are. But is it?
Divorcing your job is not about quitting your job.
It is about not defining who you are by what you do. It’s about having a life where work is only one aspect of it. It is about not hiding behind the title and the organization’s brand when people ask you what you do.
What is it about taking control that scares us?
We shield ourselves with an outer skin of the school we go to, the company we work for and the wrappers we affiliate with. It feels comfortable and safe. And yet, too many of us continue to numb ourselves with layers and layers of stuff. I was at an event recently and when I was asked (first question) what is it that you do. I said “I fired myself from my company 18 months ago.” One woman almost jumped out of her chair and said: “wow, I wish I could do that but I have been in financial services for 27 years.” I then shared what I was passionate about and only at the end did I say that I am loving my work as a futurist.
It’s about the decisions and choices we make. Every day we decide what type of food we put in our bodies and our decisions have consequences that translate into our health and well-being.
What are you doing?
Divorcing your job means that you are no longer defined by what you do. So if that’s the case, what can you do? Take some time to make it real for yourself. Ask yourself:
- Who am I? What do I want represent for me, for my family, for society?
- Is that who I really want to be?
- Where am I being authentic and where am I playing the role of a super hero in a story that no longer serves me?
- What’s in my control to change? What’s out of my control?
- What level of risk am I willing to make?And what will be the consequence of not taking a risk?
- What are two steps that are in my control that can get me closer to who I am?
- Now ask yourself, how would I feel if I moved from playing this movie in my head to making it real?
- What am I going to do right now? What am I ready to unleash to the world?
- How do I feel now? What small steps can I take? How do I hold myself accountable?
The clock is ticking. We will never have this minute back again. What are you going to paint on that canvas? And if you are like me, you will fall down a few times in the journey. But you’ll get up every time realizing that it is all worth it.
Please let me know as I’d love to be part of your journey and learn how you are making it real.