You hate your job. You despise your job, actually. You get sick to your stomach every Monday morning and the sense of dread doesn’t let up until TGIF Happy Hour. Okay, maybe you don’t TOTALLY hate your job. There is that cute guy in billing, you did work hard to get where you are so far, and the money is decent, even though you deserve more. But you can’t let go of that feeling that there’s something more.
You fantasize about quitting. You create elaborate scenarios in your head that involve telling your boss to take this job and shove it where the sun don’t shine. You visualize cleaning out your office, walking out the front door, unshackling your chains, and throwing debris up in the air as you start break dancing to the perfect soundtrack that rocks you right into the life your dying to live -- which is any life except this one.
Just thinking about it, you feel free. You can finally breathe. You stretch your arms out to the side, throw your head back, and inhale.
You know something is calling you -- something that would make you giggle to your toes, something you love so much you would do it for free, even though people might actually pay you to do it, something BIG. Something you were born to do. But then that voice inside your head starts shouting so loud that your fantasies fizzle faster than fireworks hitting water.
You know the familiar dialogue in your head -- the one between you and the fearful, panicky part of you that I call The Gremlin -- that primal part of your brain that constantly thinks you’re suffering from either “lack” or “attack.” As far as The Gremlin is concerned, there’s never enough: not enough food, not enough love, not enough money. And if there is enough, beware -- because you’re about to be attacked by those who want to take it away from you. According to The Gremlin, you haven’t evolved from cave man days, when there really wasn’t enough moose meat to go around, and that cave bear really did nip at your heels.
I don’t mean to diminish the real struggles people in today’s economy face. Unemployment is high, and many people who lived previously comfortable lives struggle to make ends meet. Certainly, some of these people may feel that they don’t have the luxury to do what they love. They would be happy just to punch a time card and pick up a paycheck at the end of the week.
But you are probably not one of those people.
The truth is that most of the perils of modern day people in developed countries do not put us in direct danger of “lack” or “attack.” Although financial considerations can be real, there’s usually enough food to go around, and most people would not be at direct risk of death or dismemberment if they quit a job they didn’t love. Most of the fears our Gremlins are cueing off are figments of our imagination, theoretical fears that exist only in our minds.
I know all about The Gremlin because I am a doctor who left medicine. I was a very successful full partner in a busy OB/GYN practice making a fancy six-figure income before I quit my job to follow my passion. Sometimes we simply wind up in jobs and careers that just don’t resonate with the authentic core of who we are. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean we have to stay unhappy.
Leaving my medical practice was a slow-motion sequence of leaps of faith that led me to walk away from 12 years of medical education, a phenomenal income with complete job security, a cushy retirement account, and meaningful work that was good -- but just never quite the right fit for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but leaving my practice would open me up to my calling -- which is still about healing, but in a way that is much more authentic to who I really am at the core of my being.
Nowadays, I write books, operate this amazing online community, practice my own art of healing as a Pink Medicine Woman coach, engage in public speaking, paint with beeswax, and get paid to do what I love. But I didn’t know that when I first took my leap of faith. I just knew that The Gremlin was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. And somewhere out there, I would find my calling.
To deal with your pesky, terrified Gremlin, try visualizing him as a harmless, ineffective little dude that sits on your shoulder and mutters ugly nothings into your ear. Name him if you like. By separating yourself from the voices in your head, you can be more objective, observing The Gremlin rather than identifying with it and mistaking it for the truth. I actually feel kind of sorry for mine, trapped in his scared little prison, like a zoo animal that can’t be free like I am. I pat him on the head, feed him peanuts.
If you’re considering taking a leap of faith and leaving a job that doesn’t resonate with the core of who you are, send your Gremlin to time out and give yourself permission to feel what you feel, to dream what you dream, and to quit your job if you must.
When the pain of staying put exceeds the fear of the unknown, you’re ready. You’ll still feel the fear but you won’t let your fear rule your decision-making. You’ll feel the fear and do it anyway.
If it’s not time yet, wait. Dream. Plan. Look for signs from the Universe. Build your safety net if you must. Surround yourself with others who have taken leaps of faith. Schedule a coaching session. Most importantly, nurture your body, mind, and spirit. Be kind to your heart. Go easy on yourself.
For more thoughts on getting out of your own way and taming The Gremlin, check out these other mojo-filled resources:
What about you? Do you love your job? Hate it? Are you ready to take a leap of faith?
Leaping into my life,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
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