Losing a Job and Loving It: How to Trade Money for Meaning

'Downtown is where it's at' United States, New...
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A few years ago my professional life unraveled. I lost my high paying international business job, my husband moved out and I fell ill. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. The series of crises led me to a job I love. I’m now a professional author with a new book and regular assignments from around the world, But this was only a dream back then.

At the time, I worked as assistant director in the international division of a French company and traveled about 260 days a year from the United States to Europe and back once a month. I loved the work, loved doing business in three different languages and I loved the exclusive hotels and exquisite restaurants that came with entertaining clients. But my health and relationships suffered and instead of feeling satisfied with more and more things that the money allowed me to buy, I simply felt exhausted and empty.

The day crisis struck,  I waited for my boss at the airport. But when he arrived, I couldn’t stand up. I’d been pushing my body too hard, had constant jet lag and never enough rest. My legs turned to jelly and much to my embarrassment, instead of shaking his hand and heading into the business lounge with a boarding pass, I booked a return flight home. The doctor ran blood tests, found some serious health issues and put me on sick leave. Over the next year as I struggled with health issues, I remembered that even as a child I dreamed of writing and finding my book on bookstore shelves. I began to pursue this dream again.  I met up with a respected local writer who helped me understand the business of writing. Within three months my first essay appeared in a notable, pan-European magazine.  In a year and a half I began to write full time.

I’ve since met a lot of people who have traded less lucrative careers for more personally rewarding ones: These three steps help to make the leap:

1) Reconnect with your dreams: Go back and check in with the dreams that motivated you when you were a child. These dreams are beyond money and prestige. They come from the heart and appeal to the child within us. This inner child likes to play, explore new things and be adventurous. Reconnecting with dreams also means paying attention to the images that arise during sleep. Keep a dream journal by your bedside to help guide and direct you. Dreams override the rational, analytical mind that we live with during the day and they can open up new creative spaces of the spirit.

2) Don’t Make Money the Number One Aim: While we all need money to live, most of us don’t need as much as we think. By simplifying desires and lifestyle, it’s easier to pursue those childhood dreams and let them find expression. A woman who worked in a big publishing company left a high-paying position to start an institute that fosters spiritual growth. It has grown into an internationally recognized organization. Another woman who sang opera for a living lost her voice and had to learn to sing from her heart and make it more than a pursuit of money to get her voice back. Many studies have shown that when money is the number one aim it reduces and limits creativity. Discover what you can and love to do and give it expression in the world. Don’t burn bridges and quit your day job today, but gently move into the new creative space you’re creating.

3) Welcome Change: It’s harder to change than you may think. When I left the executive job and began writing full time, a part of me yearned to go back to the corporate office, have a regular, secure salary and be surrounded with a familiar environment. Creating a new life and a new career takes time, patience and perseverance. By slowly learning to write well, working with structure, learning to write from the heart and becoming aware of the business requirements of the writing life, I’ve come to do what I love. I still couldn’t do it without the help and support of a lot of people around me. These big life changes mean it may take several years to create a new comfort zone. So be open and welcome change when looking for new career possibilities.

And finally if you can’t always do the work you love, try changing your mind and learn to love the work you do. Every job has difficulties and challenges. If you work at a home office, you may feel isolated. If you work with a lot of travel, you may feel stressed out. But working from home you get to set your own hours and if you have to travel a great deal, you also get to see new and interesting places and people.

Copyright Debra Moffitt 2010. http://www.debramoffitt.com

Bio: Debra Moffitt

Debra Moffitt’s book, “Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life” will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in May 2011 (www.awakeintheworld.com).  Read more at www.debramoffitt.com Her essays and articles appear in publications around the world and focus on drawing attention to the spiritual in a mostly material-minded world.  She presents workshops in the U.S. and Europe.

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