*excerpted and adapted from O-Syndrome: When Work is 24/7 and You’re Not
Approximately 17 years ago, I woke up one morning with those urgent words in my consciousness.
Prior to that morning, I had worked for the past year in a communications leadership role. The demands and challenges of the position had gradually consumed me. I was losing my smile. The work environment was brutal with one crisis after another. React, scramble, deliver. Repeat. This was the “normal” rhythm of my day. Weekdays were for putting out fires. Evenings and weekends were for getting my regular work done.
Upon arriving home I frequently stumbled through the door tired, irritable, and stressed out. The effects of the brutal pace spread quickly from me to my husband and my two young children. I was impatient and snapped at them at the slightest provocation. I also experienced constant headaches and anxiety attacks.
When I woke up that morning knowing it was time to “quit now,” my husband and I were seriously talking divorce. And my smile had long disappeared.
I went in to work that morning and handed in my resignation. As soon as the deed was done, my relief was palpable. I felt ten pounds lighter. One of the other leaders in disbelief demanded to know how I could quit after only a year and give up everything.
“I’m leaving because I have already given up everything.”
With a puzzled expression, she hurried off to a meeting for which she was late. She didn’t get it, and in that moment, I didn’t care that she didn’t get it. And guess what? I was smiling.
I had no other job waiting for me and no prospects either. I quit in order to hold on to what’s most important.
What about you? Are you holding on to what makes you smile and letting go of what doesn’t?
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