It has nearly been a year since I quit my job. Can you believe that? I can’t. Since I walked out those shitty sliding doors on that beautiful Thursday afternoon and escaped into freedom time has gone by a lot faster. I wish you could see my old office building, it was straight out of your cliche office nightmares. A big, looming, brown turd of a building with carpet so old and crusty I never put my handbag directly on it. The halogen lights were migraine inducing and the boiling water used to leak out of the permanently fixed hot water dispenser on the wall and tried to burn your hand each day.
I’m grateful for those days because without them I wouldn’t appreciate my newfound freedom anywhere near as much. The first day I sat down at my home office to start working on Little Grey Box full-time I was totally overwhelmed. For months I had dreams and ideas run through my head constantly, but with my full-time job I didn’t have the energy or time to make those ideas happen.
When I finally did, it took me a few months to get into a groove. It’s a weird feeling not having a boss dishing out work to you or checking the quality of what you’re doing. It’s even weirder when you don’t have to ask anyone if you can take holidays or have a day off… you can slack off and look at Facebook all freaking day if you want to, ain’t nobody give a damn.
I’ve learned a lot in the past year and today I want to share with you some of the things I’ve learned since quitting my job.
1. Stress is really bad
When you do something you actually want to do and enjoy doing each and every day, your stress levels diminish. I used to be stressed up to my eyeballs, worried about deadlines and workload, conflict with co-workers, having work appropriate outfits, prepping for meetings, getting my lunch ready, having to wash my hair, getting enough sleep but not wanting to sleep because it brought me closer to waking up… for work.
That kind of stress has a really distinct feel to it. It’s draining, exhausting and just plain nasty. It makes you feel yucky and you don’t want to feel that way, but you can’t help it. It’s soul-sucking and morale destroying. Even the word morale… I’m not sitting around in my home office trying to boost my own morale… I have bucket loads of morale just laying around going unused because I want to do what I do each day.
The toll that kind of stress takes on your mind and body is horrible. I used to get the worst headaches, be sick quite often and have little energy to do anything else. Over the past year, I’ve learned what it feels like to live stress-free and I have felt the HUGE impact that has made on my life and my happiness.
2. Motivation comes from honesty
Now that I do something I love doing, I have boundless amounts of energy and motivation to actually do it. I remember sitting at my stupid grey desk in my poo-brown building, staring at my computer screens (yep, I had two) and trying to mentally will myself to do something. Sometimes I would kind of ‘come to’ and realise I had just been sitting there, staring motionless at my screens for a really long time… like a total looney bird.
Being honest with myself and acknowledging the things I like to do and actually doing them has meant I am really motivated. I have goals in my mind and heart that I want to achieve and a never-ending source of energy and motivation to make them happen.
3. Life is meant to be fun
There was a time when I didn’t believe that. I thought life was all about working to earn money to pay bills so you could have all the things you want in life and that would make you happy. Idiot.
It turns out, life is meant to be fun. Every day is supposed to be beautiful and wonderful and fun. I guess I didn’t have the energy or enough happiness in my heart to enjoy them or see the awesome stuff going on all around me and appreciate it. Now I’m in a better place and grateful for every day I get to sit at my desk, like I am right now, and take all the things in my brain and type them out for you to read. How is that real? How is that happening? It’s the most wonderful thing ever and it makes me feel so happy and free that I realise those things are more important than possessions.
4. Nobody judges you for following your dreams
Not one person has said to me, “You might regret it if you take a chance to follow your dreams.” Not. One. At our core, we all have our own hopes and dreams for the future and we all know what it’s like to feel regret. There ain’t a person I know who would judge me for taking a chance… and if they aren’t judging me, I’m pretty sure they aren’t judging you either. It’s amazing the support you can find and the people you connect with when you let your heart out of the bag and just go for it. So many people can relate to how you feel, it’s a wonderful thing.
5. We find ways of finding our unhappiness, but it doesn’t need to be that way
Before I quit my job I was really fit and Matt was pretty pleased with how my booty was looking in tight jeans. I was too! Since I left my job my body shape has changed and I’m not as jacked as I used to be. At first, this was a bit upsetting because I liked how strong I had felt. But then something occurred to me… I used to go to training every day after work because I was so angry and stressed and tightly wound that I felt like I was going to either scream or cry. By working out I was able to make my body hurt and exhaust my mind, which made me vent all the yucky stuff I had been holding onto that day. Even though I was ripped as a mother-flipper, I was really unhappy.
Some days, those training sessions were the only thing that brought me back to life. Now I’m in a better place mentally I don’t crave that outlet for my negative emotions because I don’t have them. It’s a bit of a trade-off I guess, but I’m comfortable being happy and a little squidgy around the edges as opposed to unhappy and hanging out for the gym every day so I can vent my rage.
6. How to be the zen master
For a while there I was projecting my unhappiness on a lot of the things and people around me. Yes, my old
office poo building was one of them, as were co-workers, tasks I had to do, dodgy friends… everything else around me was the source of my discontent. I did everything possible to avoid putting the responsibility on myself, the only person who got me here and the only person who could get me the heck outta here too.
I’d let people get to me and drag me down, upset me and frustrate me. Since leaving my job and knowing what it feels like to be happy and really, truly experiencing that, I’ve learned that no bad feeling can ever compare to how awesome happiness feels. It’s easy to be the zen master and let negative crap bounce off you when you have something really good in your heart. I’ve learned to be able to look at people and see they aren’t really angry or upset with me, they’re upset with something going on within them that has nothing to do with me at all. I’ve been there bro, I know!
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Have you taken a leap of faith? What have you learned from your experiences in your current job? What have you learned changing jobs or careers? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please share in the comments below or on Facebook here.
Watch: our ’12 months in 60 seconds’ video
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.