When I wrote my comfort zone challenge list many months ago there were a few that I thought I would attempt straight away and then others that I thought “Yeah, I’ll probably do that in a few years time” (oh, hello my friend procrastination). One of those things was shaving my head (holy hell did I really commit to that!) and another one was quitting my job without having another one to go to. Well I’m pleased to report that I haven’t shaved my head, but a few weeks ago I somehow mustered up the courage to quit my job.
Now, normally, when I sit down to reflect on a comfort zone challenge and write about my experience, the learning is fairly absolute, or at least it is in my mind. I complete a challenge and I have learned something as a result of it. However, as I am writing this I am still sitting very firmly in the discomfort of my challenge and every inch of me is resisting it. The days are a bit of a rollercoaster; going from extreme optimism and a sense of freedom to sometimes that feeling of being lost, not really knowing what I should do with myself. However, I am trying to use these uncomfortable feelings as a reassurance that I am moving in the right direction.*
If you’ve completed my guide to setting meaningful comfort zone challenges (and if you haven’t – subscribe now and download it!) you will probably find that your comfort zone challenges relate to one or two base level fears and they tend to be recurring. For me one of these recurring fears is around uncertainty, or lack of control. So the idea of quitting my job without having another one to go to was terrifying. Kind of like jumping off a cliff without knowing where you’re going to land (or more specifically whether your parachute will open…).
I should probably first explain to you why quitting my job was on my list of comfort zone challenges in the first place. I didn’t just put it on there because I saw it as a way of feeling out of control, these things don’t really work that way. I’ve been working in the financial services industry for over 10 years and over the last few years I have started to feel unfulfilled. On the surface my most recent job was perfect – the loved the people I worked with, they were flexible with me working part time, it was close to home and there was day-care just around the corner for me to drop off my daughter before work. But there was something gnawing away at me. I just kept thinking “What is wrong with me?”, “I should be grateful for this”.
And then something happened that opened my eyes and made me realise that maybe I shouldn’t keep ignoring these signals. An entrepreneur and blogger that I have been following for a couple of years, Scott Dinsmore, died at the age of 33 in a freak accident on Mt Kilimanjaro. To me, and a lot of other people around the world, he was hugely inspiring. He was living his dream life, running an amazingly successful business, connecting people around the world and inspiring them to do something that made a positive impact on the world. If you haven’t watched his TEDx talk, do yourself a favour and watch it here.
After Scott died I was in shock and despite not having even met him, I grieved for him. I have been involved with his community here in Sydney for a while now and so I felt I was a part of his impact, being involved in that community has well and truly changed my life. His dying firstly made me think about my own mortality. But what impacted me more was hearing from his community, family and even his wife, that he died doing something that he loved and making a positive impact in the world. Naturally that got me thinking “If I died right now would anyone say that about me?”
Of course everyone’s definition of making a positive impact in the world is very different. I’m certainly not saying that by being a financial planner you can’t make a positive impact, or that you need to solve world hunger to make a difference. But for me it isn’t the impact that I want to make. At this stage I am not even sure what that impact is, which is causing me just as much discomfort as not knowing when I’m going to make my next dollar. But I’m committing to use the discomfort to take small consistent actions to try and find out.
For now, I’m trying to get a little bit more comfortable with not knowing. I’m trying to plan less (What, you thought the whole financial planning thing was a coincidence?), and start to listen to my heart and let my intuition guide me a little more (former Jane would be freaking out at the ‘woo woo’ of that sentence by the way…). So I guess you’re going to have to wait to know my sure-to-be-hugely-profound insights once I’ve figured this bloody thing out. One thing that I do know is that control is a bit of an illusion anyway. Scott’s death reminds me of that too. Thankfully the one thing you do have control over are your own thoughts and actions, so that’s where I’m going to start.
Are you a control freak? Or a former control freak? I’d love to know your experiences and, ok yes some tips would be great too 😉
*There is a great book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield that explores the concept of using resistance as your compass.