Why I quit my job to jump into the unknown

Three weeks ago I quit my job.

I left my full-time, well-respected, comfortable, coveted, Vancouver PR agency account manager position without a new job lined up.

If you’re reading this right now and are thinking:

“WHAT, WHY?! She’s crazy, I’d kill for that job.” – please see response A

If you are thinking:

“Hell yeah! Good for you!” – please see response B

Response A

You’re right, I am a bit crazy. I’m also a bit irrational (as in, I don’t put up with irrational crap just to make others happy), sometimes overly optimistic (I’d rather look forward to the future than have the energy sucked out of me dwelling on the past) – and always passionate about what I’m doing (passion creates energy, which then inspires others to take action).

Response B

Thank you! As confusing and scary this new adventure is, I’m staying true to my values and even though I don’t have it all figured out, trusting that the universe will provide what I’m looking for along the way.

The real reason I quit my job

Every morning when I wake up, I think about what my day has in store. I go through my mental to-do list, think about how much time I have before I actually have to be somewhere, and determine whether or not I can fit in a workout. Generally, I have things to look forward and people to be accountable to, so getting out of bed is effortless – almost exciting even.

Recently, I woke up one morning and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I felt excited to get out of bed. After laying there for a few minutes, I realized I actually couldn’t recall what that felt like anymore. I knew at that moment, I needed a change and I knew it had to start with my work*.

*One important thing about me is that I’m a pretty passionate person. When I get excited about something, I’m told I radiate energy. I love that feeling. When I’m in something, I’m 100% in – I didn’t feel like that about my work anymore, which meant it was time to get out.

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The next day I walked into my boss’ office and gave my two weeks notice.

I immediately felt relief. Relief that I no longer had to deal with the internal struggle that was my loyalty to my job and the fact that it was holding me back from reaching my fullest potential.

Now what?

I have big dreams. I’m not sure what exactly I’m capable of, but I know that every time I’ve applied myself and put all my energy in one direction, I’ve never failed to thrive and prosper. I’ve registered my business as a PR and Comms consultant (yes, I’m open for work!), have a short term plan (to get as much experience and work with as many incredibly talented people as possible) and a long term plan (TBA, can’t give away all the good stuff in one post!) – and most importantly, to feel inspired and excited about getting out of bed again.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that last week I felt anxious, nauseous, alone and scared… but this week I’ve put those useless emotions behind me and focused on my support system and the opportunities in front of me.

I don’t know everything about this next chapter, but here’s what I know for sure:

1. I’m going to trust my gut. It sounds really cheesy, unjustified and unprovable (yes, that is a word) but your body tells you more than you might realize. Think about that feeling when you see a $20 bill that an elderly lady just dropped at the cash register and you watch a middle-aged man pick it up and put it in his pocket. You are conflicted because you know you should rat on the man, but he’s an adult. He knows right from wrong. What will he say, what will he do? Most importantly: What does your stomach feel like? Whenever I feel THAT feeling, I know whatever situation I’m in, it’s wrong and I need to get out or change it. This is a tried and tested philosophy that never fails.

2. I’m not going to under-value myself. This is one of the hardest obstacles any entrepreneur has to face. When you’re starting out on your own it’s a natural tendency to think ‘once I get enough experience and do a good job, clients will see how valuable I am and pay me more’… that’s like saying you’ll tip your pizza deliverer more every time they do a good job in delivering your pizza. You won’t. People want to save money. They won’t give you more unless you set your value and ask for it.

3. I will not stop learning. I’ve realized a lot about myself thus far in my career, and if there’s one thing I know for sure – I thrive in the unknown. It’s definitely a strength of mine which I’ve learned to leverage in both personal and professional ways. The day you stop learning is the day you die. I’ve got a lot more days to live which means bring on the new experiences!

4. I will not stop caring (aka I give a shit). Some call it perfectionism, I call it integrity. When I’m in something, I’m 100% in it. I see no point in pretending or pressuring yourself to do something or be someone you aren’t. That conflicting feeling is what generates self-doubt, insecurity and the feeling of being ‘stuck’ which I’m sure everyone can relate to. I care too much about things in general to become numb to my surroundings.

5. I’m going to be open to any and all opportunities. In my experience, the best experiences, the most growing and the biggest learnings have come when I’ve opened up my life to possibility. If you’re ever unsure or indecisive about the opportunity at hand, refer to #1 on this list.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. . . . In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.” – Henry D. Thoreau

Call to action:

1. If any of this sounds familiar, I suggest you check out the podcast Where There’s Smoke.

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I’ve listened to many podcasts and read many books, and the topics and stories pulled together by host Brett Gajda are BANG ON. From success, courage, visualization, accountability, happiness and so many more – it helped me so much to hear these ideas and realize I am capable of achieving anything I dream of – and I’m no different than any of you.

2. If you’re reading this right now and can relate to anything I said above, please feel free to reach out to me. Tweet, email, comment, send positive vibes – however you feel comfortable, I’d love to hear from you and chat about what you’re passionate about and what you’re going to do about it.

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Young leaders in training

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be a part of a program facilitated by the Minerva Foundation called Learning to Lead. The weekend workshop saw 50 grade 11 girls from around BC ascend on UBC to surround themselves with other future leaders and learn the fundamentals of what makes a great leader.

They came in quiet, unsure and shy. A soft buzz was in the air but you could tell they weren’t sure what to expect. I’m sure some were nervous, self-conscious and overwhelmed – all at once. Hell, I was too. I had no idea what I got myself into.. was I supposed to participate? Be mentors for these girls? Did I even know enough about leadership skills to be able to do justice by these girls?

I had no idea – but as a (self-described) leader in training myself, when I was asked to volunteer my time for the weekend I graciously accepted. 

The weekend started with meeting the other women who would be Den Mothers as well. It was very clear that we all had different backgrounds and varying experiences, but we all shared a common passion for leadership and passing on our wisdom to these girls. The program facilitators kicked off the weekend with some great ice breakers… and probably my favourite activity of the whole weekend: story telling.

I’ve always been a proponent of story telling. I know it might sound a bit biased given my current profession.. but before I really got into my job as a communicator I understood the value of asking about, and listening to, other people’s stories. First of all, everyone has a story and people love talking about themselves. It’s flattering, engaging and uplifting to talk about experiences that have made you who you are. But most importantly, telling your story makes you vulenerable. You’re opening up and sharing intimate details about the experiences you’ve endured that have made you, you. Initial assumptions about who you think someone is based on their appearance and possibly first impression are almost never the same after you’ve heard about their past and what makes them tick. Storytelling provides the subtle reminder that we’re all people who are craving to feel connected and be heard.

Sharing our stories is a powerful experience that is irrefutably the most important for building meaningful connections and relationships. Immediately after that experience, the girls became open, confident and comfortable around each other – setting them up well for the lessons and expereinces to come.

  

Over the next two days the girls went through workshops and experiences (such as a group drumming circle and a dance-off!) that saw them get clear on their values, create new friendships and truly dig into what they are passionate about. We talked about not having to be perfect at everything and the dirty little secret about life: you don’t have to be well rounded. The best leaders lead from their core values and are leaders because they are true to who they are and are able to get behind their beliefs 100%. 

As much as I thought I’d be there to over see and help out when needed, I quickly realized I was learning as much as they were. The workshop was as relevant to us women as it was to the girls – many of who were hearing some of these concepts and lessons for the first time.

At the end of the weekend, I came away with two over encompassing learnings:

  1. I’m on the right track. As much as the weekend was for the girls – I learned a lot about myself and had a lot of realizations about where I am and where I want to go. It was rejuvenating.
  2. It’s vital for us to talk to young girls about these things around this age. Today’s girls have so much pressure on them to be everything and make the best choices – but all the noise surrounding them becomes paralyzing. If they’re fortunate enough to grow up in a family who is able to teach them they are enough and they can have whatever they dream – that would be amazing. That however, is not the reality. Many girls are never given the opportunity to work on self discovery and feel that they have a voice. 

It’s our responsibility to educate and teach our young women they are enough and what they think and who are are – is important. 

Let’s get some more women at the executive table.

  

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