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How to make a life-changing decision, and not regret it

career careers life Aug 20, 2022

What happens when you wake up one day and realise that you’re over your career? That you’re just going through the motions and living for the weekend? Trapped under the weight of expectation and responsibility and not having the first idea on what you can do about it?

 

Big life changes are terrifying. Taking a step out of the world as you know it and into the unknown takes a huge amount of courage, but it’s so worth it. Life is an endless string of decisions, and it’s up to you how you’re going to play them; if you’re going to embrace change, or avoid it. 

 

Change is hard. There’s always resistance, whether it’s from you or from the people around you. There’s admin. There’s doubt. Uncertainty. But it’s also unavoidable. Even if you do your absolute best to stay the same, the world will continue to move around you, things change, people change. 

 

And while adjusting to change can be scary, the idea spending the rest of your life in a situation that you don’t love is horrifying. Sometimes the only way is to totally reevaluate your life and create a new path to a more meaningful life. 

 

Let me tell you my story of how I walked away from everything I thought I wanted, how it was the best decision I’ve ever made, and how you can do it too.

 

Listen to your gut:

I spent 5 years building my vision of a wellbeing centre to support the local community in feeling better and living more. Yet I found myself getting to a point where I was unfulfilled. That the passion that once drove me to build the business was gone and I couldn’t imagine a world where my work wasn’t passionate and exciting for me. I was stuck.

I knew that stepping away from something I’d work so hard to achieve wouldn’t make sense to a lot of people, but it felt so right to me. I confided in a few people that I knew would be supportive and avoided open conversations where people could give me their opinion at the beginning. I didn’t need people to understand it at all, I just had that gut feeling that leaving was what I needed to do.

 

Think things through:

When your whole life is in the balance, it’s so important to take some time to think about things. I knew that what I wanted to find was that spark again - to reignite the fire and passion that makes my work so important to me. I needed to be clear that I wasn’t running away from something, but I was heading towards something new. 

When you know the road ahead of you is going to be rocky, it’s so important to be 100% clear on why you’re doing this and what’s so important about it. That’s where all the resilience comes from when things get tough.

 

But don’t overthink it:

The one thing I kept getting hung up on was whether or not I would regret leaving. Would I be able to watch the business grow and prosper without me? I had to keep reminding myself that being there wasn’t making me happy, and how could I regret a decision that I made for my own happiness? 

As important as it is to think things through, going over and over it doesn’t actually sort things out. At some point you’ll have to move into action, and when you do, you want to jump right in.

 

Take the leap:

Making the decision was the hardest bit, but as soon as the decision had been made and the deal was done I felt so much lighter and excited for the next step. Worrying about feeling regret was holding me back, but I just knew that my happiness was more important that keeping ownership of that business. 

What really helped me make the decision was knowing that I could make another decision later if I needed to. While I wouldn’t be able to undo what I’d done, I knew I wasn’t committing to my next step long term and that I could make a change again if that’s what felt right later on.

 

Overcome your fears:

Initially after leaving, I felt free. I travelled and focused on myself and did all of the things that I wasn’t able to do while I was working, but about 3 months later, the novelty wore off and I suddenly felt quite lost. My identity was tied up in that business and I had a massive panic about who I was and what I actually wanted. What was I going to do next?

Before I had left, I remember feeling that all would become clear once I had the space to think, but once I had the space I was totally drowning in it and it really dawned on me that I needed a purpose; something to contribute, a reason to get up in the morning.

I went on a couple of retreats and got really into exercise as a way to support my mental health and I also worked with a mentor. Eventually I started to see that when I looked back over all of my experiences there was a pattern in what I enjoyed and what I was really good at, and that showed me where I needed to go next.

 

Find your support network:

I started to look at my environment and my relationships and really honed in on who was important to me and what environment I wanted to live in. I had a few close friends, a mentor and coach and purposefully kept my circle small - I realised how significant relationships are. I found myself drawn to really authentic people and who could give it to me straight, in a kind way.

Your supporters don’t even need to agree with your decisions necessarily, as long as they respect you and want the best for you. Be aware that you may lose some friends through the process. Some relationships can weather the storm, and some just can’t, but don’t let it bother you too much. You’re focusing on what’s best for you, and the right people will come along for the ride.

 

Know that some if this is going to feel weird:

The weirdest moment for me was definitely the first time somebody asked me what I did for work, and I replied - nothing. Having identified as a business owner for so long, and being someone who always has something on the go, I felt totally out of touch and alienated. That night, I went home feeling very alone and did some journalling. I decided that from ‘nothing’, anything is possible, and I started planning.

 I realised that if you’re going to take the leap, you’ve got to really go for it. You can’t be longing for your old life and not committed to the change you’ve created. Focus on the possibilities, the new connections and your new environment and really go for it.

 

Accept the doubt:

Self-doubt is a very necessary part of any major life changes. It’s what saves us from being reckless and not thinking things through, but it can also hold you back. The reality is that some life changes feel like failures: not coping in the corporate environment you worked so hard to get into, burn out, relationship breakdowns, a business folding. Keep in mind that painful experiences teach us the best lessons- what do you need to change to be more successful next time? 

For me, running an award-winning wellbeing business but not looking after my own wellbeing and ultimately experiencing burnout made me feel like I had a total lack of integrity. I wasn’t practicing what I preach, I couldn’t do for myself what I was doing for others, and for a really long time, I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it at all. 

The thing is, I learned that knowing about wellbeing and practicing it are two very different things. I learned to put my own needs first and to structure my life to make that a priority. But I also had to stop beating myself up about it. Going over and over where you’ve messed up doesn’t move you forwards, I needed to let it go.

 

Don’t look back:

I’ll be honest, when your new life is still under construction, it’s very easy to get a bit nostalgic about the old, more stable times. Be clear about what you miss and don’t miss. I watched the business I had built go from strength to strength without me and at times, I’d feel that pang of…. Jealousy? Of being left behind?

I kept going back to why this change was so important to me, and why leaving my old life needed to happen. You’ve got to take a risk to get the life you want.

 

Focus on your future:

Life’s too short to spend it going through the motions. Really! As daunting as a big change is, it’s frankly terrifying and much worse surely, to know that the next 5 or 10 years of your life are going to be a drag. And you can’t do nothing about it and expect things to improve, you have to stretch yourself. You have to grow.

We’re more resilient than we think we are, and we all deserve to live our lives feeling good about the work that we do. 

Change is good for you. Embrace it.

 

If you want my support to make a change or make a fresh start book a discovery call with me and let's work out your next steps - whether that includes working with me or not, I promise you will be glad you took the action and we had a conversation. I'll ask questions, share some insights and provide a solution or next step. Book it here

 

 

 

 

 

 

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