From the outside, it looked like I had an incredible career.
I worked from home, doing work I really enjoyed with an amazing team of smart, good people. I had a great boss, and was well compensated working for a huge, well-respected company. Sounds ideal, right?
And in many ways it was—except that it was killing me.
I had wanted that job for years. I had applied and applied and interviewed a couple of times. Finally, the third time was the charm. I was ecstatic to finally land this “dream job.”
But my body had other ideas. I was sick so often it started to worry me, especially when I was in the emergency room on both Thanksgiving and Christmas!
It would be easy to blame the job. It required long hours, and it was pretty stressful. However, I knew from my life coach training that something else was likely going on here.
This was not the first time I’d found myself in this situation over the last several years. While I had a great career as a recruiter and trainer, I was not truly satisfied. In my heart and soul I knew my calling was to be a coach and teacher and yet, I let financial fears keep me from pursuing my right livelihood.
The final straw came when I found myself in the doctor’s office yet again and she told me that not only did I have a sinus infection, but also had both influenza A and influenza B—at the same time! My doctor then explained to me the link between stress and our immune systems.
I’ve seen this stress/immune response in others, too. I have a client who used to love her job. Then there was a change in leadership and her new boss created a toxic work environment. Since she started reporting to this woman, my client has been ill quite often. I’ve also seen many other cases of people working in high stress jobs who were sick often or had silent symptoms like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
So, sure, I could blame it on the stress. In my case, I knew that while stress was probably contributing to my health issues, my body was trying to give me a bigger message—the message that it was time to answer my soul’s calling to coaching.
In coach training, our first module was on the mind/body connection. While I always had a hunch that there was a connection, the stuff we were learning seemed a bit out there to me. Our bodies are our compasses? Huh? Shaman sickness?? What the what?!?
But as I continued to study the mind/body (I’d even add spirit!) connection, and put into practice what I learned, I became a believer.
Our bodies really are the best barometers of what is right for us and what is not good for us.
Most of us have experienced messages from our bodies in some way. That sinking feeling we get in the pit of our stomach when we’ve just agreed to do something we really don’t want to do. The way the hair on the back of our neck rises when we sense danger.
Those are all signals from our body to pay attention.
Our bodies try to give us subtle signs first. But when we ignore those early, gentle whispers, it starts yelling louder to get our attention.
When I sat there in the doc’s office hearing her tell me I had to cancel an important medical test I had scheduled for the next day because of the flu and sinus infection, I knew what I had to do.
Although I know that life coaching is my calling, I was putting it off for “someday.” My plan was to start my coaching biz on the side while working full time. But with the long hours I was putting into my job, I had no time or energy left for building my coaching practice.
Driving home from the doc that day, my choice became clear. There was really only one thing to do.
I had to quit my job and go do what I was born to do.
It was a terrifying thought. I was a single, mid-life woman without a huge bank account or a spouse to support me while I built a business from the ground up. But I knew that day, if I didn’t make the leap, I would continue to be sick and put my very life at risk.
Within two weeks I gave notice at my job and left a few months later. The really interesting part is that I have not been sick since giving notice. Not once.
Think about your own job or career. Do you love going to work, or do you dread it? How are you feeling? Is your body giving you any signs you should be heeding? Are you doing work that you believe is your true calling? Does your work feel like it fills you up or does it drain you?
You have just this one life, and just this one body. Is it worth risking your health to chase a paycheck?
For me, I had gone as far down that road as I was willing to go. I could no longer ignore the call and my body was making sure I didn’t.
Today, I wake up every day excited to get to work, inspired and energized. I’m convinced that leaving that job to pursue my calling saved my life.
Author: Vikki Nicometo
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Bill Strain / Flickr