3 Things you can learn too when you come to the edge of all you know

After years of working very hard and long my body and mind had finally given up on me and told me in no uncertain terms they couldn’t go on the way I had been working them.

I was always tired. It didn’t matter how much sleep I got, I always felt as if I hadn’t slept at all. It got so bad that I fell asleep behind the wheel and my company hired someone to drive me around the country as I went from one meeting to the next.

My stomach was in constant turmoil, which I was sure was the result of my eating something wrong. The fact that I had intimate knowledge of the menu of every fast food restaurant along the Dutch highways was of no help either.

When body and mind decided to shut down my stomach returned to a normal state almost immediately. Getting back from feeling tired all the time took longer, but eventually I started waking up feeling refreshed and able to take on a new day.

When you come to the edge of all the light you know,
and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown,
faith is knowing one of two things will happen:
you will find something solid to stand on,
or you will learn how to fly

Fear played a major role

I used the time recovering from my burnout to take a good look at how I got myself into this situation and found that fear had played a major role. Fear of being found out as a fraud who didn’t really know what she was doing. Fear of not living up to expectations of people I loved and/or respected. Fear of stepping outside of social conventions and not adhering to the norm (and I didn’t even really know what that norm was). Fear of being different. Fear of disapproval Fear of not earning enough money to pay the mortgage on my house. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of …

There had been so much fear in my life I had been in a constant ‘fight or flight’ mode for almost my entire professional career. No wonder I was so tired.

Asking to be fired

It didn’t happen overnight, but somewhere along the way I decided I was not going to be afraid anymore. Or at least not let fear rule my life and career.

When the company I worked for decided to merge the business unit I worked in into another one, it was as though I finally got the push in the back I needed to take the final step and have faith in myself and the Universe. I asked to be fired!

I was very fortunate to work for a company which not only was willing to fire me but also give me an outplacement package with me choosing the outplacement firm I would work with.  I chose to go with a firm that wouldn’t focus on getting me a new position in my old field of expertise, but with one that instead would help me figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

Faith is knowing one of two things will happen

Exactly a year after I had gotten the outplacement package I walked out of the building and was no longer an employee of the company where I had worked for 17+ years. Still scared, but also filled with faith I would somehow manage, I walked into an uncertain future.

3 Things I learned when I stepped into the darkness of the unknown

Deciding to ask to be fired was one of the best decisions I ever made.

[*] I rediscovered my value for the company; what I brought to the table in knowledge and experience. Through talking with other companies and head hunters I discovered I didn’t want to work in ‘my field’ anymore, while at the same time discovering that all the experience I had garnered over those 17+ years had made me into someone who could easily find a job if that very field. I stopped thinking of myself as a fraud and accepted that I was good at what I did.

[*] While doing freelance work I found I could handle the uncertainty that comes with not knowing where my next job or pay check was going to come from. Apparently I didn’t need the certainty and security of a steady job after all. I stopped looking for safety in real or perceived certainty and instead found I was confident in my abilities to find clients, work and ways to earn money.

[*] When I eventually moved to the mountains and started my life as a mountain guide and trailblazer, those lessons served me well. They gave me peace of mind and the certainty I could handle anything that would come my way. I would find something solid to stand on or – perhaps even better – learn how to fly!

Your turn! When have you found yourself on the edge of all the light you know? When have you stepped into the darkness of the unknown? What happened next?

Go on…. and please let me know. Your thoughts and answers will really help me be a better coach and guide to the people who need and want it most.

As always…

Go dare greatly!

Photo credit: Sammie Vasquez (Unsplash)

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