Don’t use your head or your heart – listen to your gut

Posted by on Jan 3, 2015 in Life | 0 comments

Don’t use your head or your heart – listen to your gut

Once we made the decision to move overseas Wayne applied and interviewed with a few schools and there were two in Beijing he was in serious talks with.  One was substantially better than the other – better school, better reputation, better salary package, the works.  The other school made him a formal offer, and needed an answer.  The preferable school was taking their time and not really committing.


In the meantime, his school in Sydney needed to reduce their teaching staff as their number of kids had dropped, they knew Wayne wanted to move overseas so they put him up to get transferred.

Wayne found himself in an awkward situation, he had turned down the lesser school in Beijing, his current school was about to transfer him, and the school he wanted still hadn’t offered him a job.  But his gut told him that was the best decision, so he stuck with it.  The school did end up offering him a job, and now we have made some great friends and he is loving teaching there.

He was officially offered the job in March and we needed to be in Beijing by the end of July.  We had to decide what our next move was.  Financially it made sense to stay in Sydney to keep earning and saving as much money as possible in the lead up to the move overseas.  Career wise it made the most sense to stay in Sydney, I was on a six month secondment to a client which was due to end in June, so it would be much better for my employer and the client if I stayed until then.  I nearly did, out of loyalty to my job and feelings of guilt.

But then I asked myself, what would be the best decision for me, for us?  This is my new way of thinking, questioning everything and the motivations behind it.  Why did I want to stay – would I be getting anything out of it?  Or would I benefit more by spending quality time with my partner and allowing myself to take a breath.  Sounds pretty selfish, but you have to look out for yourself and sometimes you need to do what is best for you, even if that’s not what is best for everyone else.

The word ‘selfish’ has such a negative stigma, it’s a dirty word often used as an insult.  I think we need to be selfish, that being selfish can be a good thing, and can actually be the most unselfish thing to do.  You cannot possibly be the best employee / parent / sibling / friend / partner to someone if you are not at your best.  There’s a reason they tell you to fit your own oxygen mask first, you can’t be of help to others if you’re in a state of emergency yourself.

Take the time to think about what you need, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and give it to yourself.  The person who deserves your love the most is you.  If you are happy within yourself, you can offer up the best version of yourself.  As Cassie Mendoza-Jones puts it “The world doesn’t need the burnt-out, exhausted, panicked version of you”.  By giving back to ourselves we are able to give to others.

It may feel selfish to work and spend time away from your kids, but if work gives you satisfaction and makes you happy when you are at home, that’s the best thing you can do.  Happiness begins with you, so look after yourself.  I remember when I told my friend “You need to look out for number 1”, she looked at me perplexed and asked “who’s number 1?”  If you don’t look out for yourself no one else will, and frankly you shouldn’t expect them to.  Too often we forget to take time for ourselves to do something just for us.  Take a bath, sleep in, read a book, go for a walk, or even just simply be.

We ended up deciding that rather than stay in Sydney paying exorbitant rent and slaving away, we would end our lease, sell all of our belongings, and relax in Indonesia for two months instead.  We booked only our flights and allowed ourselves the freedom to see what we felt like doing when we got there, the trip would be our canvas to paint.  That ended up including yoga, a volcano trek, diving a national park and the pure bliss of doing nothing (you can read more about our holiday here).

What I have learned is to always listen to your gut, your intuition, your instincts – whatever you want to call it.  When you get a good or bad “feeling” about something or someone, how many times does it end up being right?  The way you choose the correct multiple choice answer first, only to second guess yourself and go back and change it, to find out you were right the first time?  I believe you know when something isn’t right.  It doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t sit right when you think about it.  Listen to your gut, what is it telling you?

As I’m sure you can imagine when I told people I was quitting my job as a lawyer (a job I had spent years working hard to get) to pack up and move halfway round the world without any clear direction for myself, there was a lot of “what (the hell) are you doing?!”  I couldn’t explain it rationally, it wasn’t the most logical or sensible decision, but in my gut I knew it was the right decision for me.

Don’t be consumed by what people think.  My friend was nervous about changing jobs because it would mean losing the title of being a “lawyer”.  Her role would entail much the same work, only for more money and better hours, but the fact was she wouldn’t be working as a lawyer.  Who does that affect?  Why is that important?  At the end of the day no-one else goes to your job every day, so there’s no point in making other people happy with your job choice because you’re only hurting yourself.

Do what you want, not what you think everyone wants or expects you to do.  You are the one who has to live with your choices, so don’t factor in what people might think – they don’t have to go to your job or live in your house or your relationship everyday.  And remember there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind – at any age or stage.

It would have been easy for me to stay in my job because I’d spent so much time, energy and money to get there and follow the idea of not “wasting it”.  But if you think about it, it’s actually crazy to use that reasoning to continue to be unhappy and spend more time doing something you don’t want to do!  Don’t stick with something because “it’s too late now” or “I’ve invested too much” – with your job, friendships, anything!  Make choices that make you happy.  Trust yourself.

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