Oh my god, I just quit my job.
I remember that being the first thought to go through my mind after I handed in my resignation. The surprising part is that I wasn’t panicking. I was excited. I had been thinking this decision over for almost two years. Now that it was official, I felt liberated.
I was being true to my authentic self, and I felt empowered by my newfound clarity of purpose. That had to be worth the uncertainty and anxiety of not knowing where my next paycheck was going to come from, right?
I’m not going to lie. The uncertainty and anxiety are real. If I’m not careful, they could spiral into a dark hole of despair. Since that’s not where I want to be, here are five things I’ve been doing to stay sane and focused on the dream while I don't have a nine-to-five job.
I’m not saying that bills can be om’d into oblivion (don’t I wish), but I’ve found that as little as 10 minutes in the morning can determine whether I go through the day feeling purposeful, or feeling frustrated. In particular, meditations that focus on staying grounded in the present and not trying to control the future have helped me mute the voice in the back of my mind that delights in producing worst-case scenarios.
Social media is basically an open invitation to compare yourself to everyone else, and find yourself lacking. The truth is everyone has problems even if their Insta feed is a nonstop Glamour shoot. Every time I find myself imagining all the ways my life would be better or more successful if I’d done things differently, I force myself to stop. I remind myself that there is no right path, there’s just my path and that’s okay.
I started off with industry associations to find conferences or networking events to go to. The people I met at those events led to the discovery of other events and online resources. As a result, I’ve met new people, tapped into additional support networks, and continued to educate myself about trends in my profession. Most importantly, I’ve spent more time engaged with the world, and a lot less time engaged in self-doubt.
On the bad days — the ones colored by frustration, disappointment or even a sense of failure — I take a look back and ask myself if I’d rather be where I was five months ago. Without hesitation, the answer is always no. However down I’m feeling in the moment, I’m still happier and more comfortable in my own skin than I was before. So the only other option is to keep going forward — uncertainty, anxiety, and all.
Not everything in the last five months has worked out the way I planned. But the good news is I know how much I’ve grown during this time, even if it’s not obvious to others around me. I see myself overcoming many of the mental blocks that have hindered me in the past. I can feel that my reservoirs of confidence and courage are deeper than they’ve ever been before. That knowledge fuels me to count every purposeful action that I take — no matter how small — as a victory. What makes this such a nifty trick is that it constantly reminds me that I am in control of my actions and my reactions.
Keeping it together is a choice. It’s hard work on a daily basis, no doubt, but it is the one thing that is completely in my power, and no one else’s, during this transitional time.