What happened when I quit my job

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Life | 0 comments

What happened when I quit my job

Working as a lawyer I had to bill a client for every 6 minutes of my time and my performance assessment was based purely on financials, basically how much money I had earned for the firm.  There were weekends and late nights as any commercial lawyer will tell you.

One of my friends got spoken to for “swanning in at 8.30am and swanning out at 6.30pm”, because a 10 hour day obviously meant she wasn’t working hard enough.

I looked at the people around me, particularly those who were my senior and living the life I was headed for.  They spent 12 hours a day at work, often eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the office.  I witnessed family holidays get cancelled because of work, and seriously began to question whether I could stand to live a life like that, or more importantly, whether I wanted to.

When books like The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love started appearing in my office, I think my colleagues may have become a bit  suspicious.

 

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It was an odd thing when I quit my job to move overseas without a career plan, other people seemed to struggle with the decision more than me.  Cries of “But why?”, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” and “But you’ve worked so hard!” followed me around.  Many people just assumed I wasn’t ‘tough enough’ to stick it out as a commercial lawyer.  This made me wonder, when did it become a banner of pride to say that you were tough enough to stick it out in a job where you weren’t happy?

Our society puts a badge of honour on the people who answer “how are you?” with “really busy”, “overworked” and “stressed”.  Sometimes it seems like a competition – who is the most busy and stressed out.  As though if you are “reaaally busy” you must be important and contributing so much.  Why do we feel like that, what is it really about?  Is it a call for attention, wanting validation that all our hard work is worth it, seeking a pat on the back?  If you’re not busy and stressed out it automatically makes you lazy and unfulfilled? How ridiculous.  There is a glorification of the anthem “I’m busy” but pause for a moment and ask yourself this, you might be busy, but is your life full?  Because there’s a difference.

I used to be that person, and when my life changed and my days became full of getting enough sleep, learning a language, going to the gym and reading books, people began asking “but what do you do?” and making statements like “I couldn’t do it, I’d feel like I wasn’t contributing”.  Contributing to what?  I can honestly say I am now contributing to my life more than ever.  People didn’t understand how I could be fulfilled, as if all satisfaction in life stemmed from working a 9-5.  This is the way society has conditioned us.  We have become obsessed with cramming our life so full that the days all merge into one another and we don’t even remember how we got to work.  Doing less is underrated.  Ask yourself, what would happen if you committed to doing less?

Live each moment.  Taste your food.  Notice the weather.  Smile more.  Spend time with people.  Do something different.  I now feel present in my daily life rather than just going through the motions every day, and it’s glorious.  When my partner comes home and I ask “How was your day?”  I genuinely mean it, I actually want to hear about it.  In my old life I was so exhausted I didn’t have the energy to really care.  I find myself having more time for other people, and best of all, for myself.

Other people in my life want me to have a plan, it would make them more comfortable.  “When will you come back to to Australia?  You still want to be a lawyer right?” 

At this point our long term plan is vague and pretty much non-existent.  Rather than thinking about the details of a plan, we talk about what we want to feel and experience, how we want to live our lives rather then when or where.

We don’t know what we’ll do next, and the feeling is exhilarating.

 

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