So, what a week I’ve just had. I learnt an important lesson and that is to take action and go after what you want in life. Even though it can be incredibly hard, ‘pluck up the courage’ to go for it. Don’t settle for second best and even if it seems like it might not be possible still go for it. I chose the word COURAGE to be my word for this year (see my blog post here if you have yet to pick yours!) as I knew there were some hard decisions to be made, actions to be taken and it was time to put them off no longer.
For those that know me well you know that the last year has been a struggle on so many fronts. I’ve felt stuck and unsettled in all areas of my life – work, study, family life – and it’s been a feeling that has been building up for quite some time. I’ve felt trapped in the corporate world by earning a good salary and providing for my family here in Hong Kong (HK) as the main breadwinner, not helped by the fact that I have to be sponsored by my employer for one more year until I get my permanent residency in HK. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually love my job and my company. I love the fact that my role is global and that I get to make a difference, indirectly impacting the lives of our future generations through training and developing our teachers, but I just don’t want to to do it full time. I’ve been feeling the pull of my health and wellbeing work. It’s been a bit like a mental ‘tug of war’ with me in the middle. I’ve been so frustrated at not being able to put into place my plans plus my parents back in the UK have been needing more support as they suffer from ill health, with the burden of care falling – unfortunately and unfairly – onto my little sister. I couldn’t see the way forward.
It seemed too much of risk to leave the family without money and potential sponsorship and yet I’ve been increasingly worn down by the hours I’ve been working and frustrated not to be able to go with all my new business ideas, and spend more time with my mum and dad and more on my functional medicine studies.
Something needed to shift. The strain was starting to take its toll on me. I was not sleeping, being very ratty and strung out and short with my husband, Steve, so our relationship was suffering. Something had to change or I felt it was literally destroying me; I was ‘mentally tossing and turning’ and winding myself up into a coiled ball of stress in the process, a ball that was really just waiting to implode. And I kept coming back to the fact that the only way things were going to change was if I took action- a big leap of faith.
In the autumn I asked God (and am aware that not all my friend and readers believe in God so for those of you who don’t, you can substitute the Universe or whoever you pray too) for a sign to let me know the best time to take action and hand in my notice at my job. I suppose I knew deep down that that was what needed to happen but it was so scary given that I would be putting our financial security and my son’s international school place at risk but deep inside I just knew that working full time was the thing that was holding me back. I should explain that I’d asked to go part time on many occasions but here in HK it is not a readily available option plus I’d always been told that my job is a full time one and that as I hold a senior role in the group it just wasn’t possible. So the only option appeared to walk away from it to set myself completley free. It was the only way I could create some space to do my health work plus have some family time. I asked for my sign from God to be a black cat. I don’t know why that particular image popped into my head but it did. That first few weeks I looked everywhere for one and when one didn’t appear it just slipped from my mind as I was immersed in the busyness of everyday life.
Fast forward to Christmas Day and I reached into the back of my cupboard to pull out the present from my best friend that had been sitting there since the summer when she’d handed it to me in the UK on my last visit. It didn’t strike me then – it was much later – but the wrapping paper was brown covered in black cats. Now my friend didn’t know about the sign I’d asked for (I hadn’t told anyone) and she handed me the presents way back in the summer before I’d even asked for a sign. Ok, so it started to dawn on me that maybe this was my moment to act but being the cautious person I am, I wasn’t convinced. Perhaps the black cats were just a coincidence? I needed more reassurance. ( My lack of trust or perhaps this was just a way for me to postpone taking the action – delaying tactics at play here I think! Perhaps the universe was ready but I wasn’t quite).
Steve, Alex and I went to Thailand on hols for a week with my in-laws on Boxing Day and I what did I keep seeing – I ran into about 4 black cats during our stay there. Was it time? Was that my sign? I was still unsure but I was aware of a growing urgency inside and a compulsion that I needed to take action and not just for me but also for everyone around me. The first week of January came and went and I still I wrestled with my decision, not yet confiding even in Steve that I was feeling very compelled to hand my notice in. A 10 day trip to London on business followed and I came back, feeling even stronger in my resolve and convinced this was needed to happen after seeing my parents and sister and the support they needed. So, on Tuesday 23rd January after arriving back from London the night before, I got up rather jetlagged, went to my early morning yoga class, came home and told my husband that I wanted his blessing to go and do the deed. He (bless him!) said I didn’t need his blessing but I know that this has been stressing him out (as he is the custodian of our finances and is risk averse) so I did my best (not a very good job of it) to reassure him that it would be all ok, that this was something I had to do not only for me but would be for the good of us as family. Not sure he was totally convinced (!) Poor thing he’s had the brunt of all my stress and unhappiness this last year.
Tuesday the right time to speak to my boss didn’t happen. I was surprisingly calm though with almost an inner confidence that knew the time would come and I’d know when. I wasn’t chickening out, really I wasn’t. An opportunity arose Wednesday and I shared with her that I was going to resign and offered to finish up at the end of June so giving 5 months’ notice rather than the 3 I needed to give. I told her truthfully it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do (I love my job and what I do and the organisation I work for but working full time meant I couldn’t do all the other things important to me). So I explained that it felt right. She listened, sympathetic and said she understood my reasons and praised me for taking the COURAGE (that word again!) to make such a decision.
Then she said she said the most amazing thing. Something I’d hoped for certainly but not something I believed could happen given our previous conversations on the subject. She said she didn’t want to lose me, admired me for the guts it took to make such a decision and then promptly went and did battle on my behalf to persuade our CEO to approve me changing to working a 3 day week, taking time off in the summer to look after my parents and spend time with them. I was blown away -this is not something organisations do in HK do, as I’ve said.
So, the reason I’m sharing this with you today is that you too can get what you want, even those things that don’t seem possible but sometimes you just have to take action to change the stalemate and believe that even the seemingly impossible can happen. You need to make space for the new to come in. Does that make sense?
I feel I have had the best possible outcome, financial security for the family, able to continue with my studies, have time with Steve and Alex and my parents. It’s a dream come true for me. I have been incredibly lucky.
I’m not saying it hasn’t been hard and I’m not saying go out and do things without thinking through the consequences. Some of you may feel that I took a big risk for my family and that was reckless. Maybe it was and maybe I was, but it came to the point that for my own sanity I needed to take the leap of faith. It is hard to explain but I did it after a lot of soul searching and from a deep sense of knowing inside that it was the right thing to do and that it would work out for the best.
So if you know something deep inside is right for you, pluck up the courage and take that leap – I’m sure you won’t regret it.I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders already.The relief is amazing. I had been carrying that burden of indecision and stress for a very long time.
I’d love to hear from any of you about a time you’ve take a leap of faith too and not looked back. Please share in the comments section below. Also I’d love to hear from you if you too are struggling with something big too, perhaps we can work through it together or least offer some support. It always helps me knowing that I’m not the only one out there going through the challenges of life so just maybe it could help you too?