I was grateful for my work.
Passionate about my work. But I was tired — literally exhausted from the inside out. I was so weary that my bones ached most days. I was moving from one thing to the next with no time to process, to reflect, to celebrate. I was running a race at a pace I couldn’t keep, and my body was paying for it.
You know when your heart knows it is time to make a change, yet a louder voice in your head tells you to stay— and to stay quiet?
Ultimately the tension built, igniting a crisis between my head and my heart.
Following your Heart: The Road less Traveled.
It was definitely time to go out on my own—to break free from the corporate life that had sustained me. There comes a time for many of us when it is absolute necessary to rebalance — to change the energy and flow of our day-to-day lives. For me, it was also about being more present with the people I loved most.
I was back in the United States for a visit after living and working overseas for five years when the quieter voice inside my heart, the one telling me it was finally time to leave, turned up the volume. Her gift to me was simple:
“Who you are, what you have done, and what you have — is already enough.”
Enough? Couldn’t be. Yet my heart leapt at the chance for that to be true.
And so my journey to leave my corporate life — the people, contexts, and identities that served me and fueled my whole professional career —began.
Now that I had stepped out of the corporate world, did that mean I no longer had a career?
Somehow, that didn’t feel right. I didn’t need to rely on a formal, externally-imposed structure to define my professional life.
Eventually, I decided I wanted to pursue what I termed a “lifestyle career.” A career that would fundamentally allow me to work and live my way. A way that fed my head, heart, and body. Work that fulfilled me intellectually and spiritually. Work that brought value and meaning to the communities I served.
Most importantly, work that sustained me, but didn’t own me. Work that provided me with spacious and guilt-free time to be with family and friends.
Slowing down sounds easy — it wasn’t.
For the first few months after leaving my corporate life, the change in pace was challenging. While I yearned for a slower, more organic way of being and working, it took me a while to adjust. I felt like an overheated car engine in the garage. For months I would check on her to find her still smoking and popping. While my calendar may have cleared, my nervous system needed a lot more time to settle in.
My head was also not yet convinced:
Can you be successful on your own? Will you make enough money? Who are you to do even bigger work in the world? Why do you deserve it?
What ultimately anchored me was trusting without a doubt that I had made the right decision, at the right time in my life. I had earned the right to do my life’s work, my way.
Four Considerations Before Making the Move.
Are you considering a big work change? Are you feeling called to transition from a corporate role to a lifestyle career — a career where your work and life are more in balance and your passions are integrated in healthy and meaningful ways?
Exploring these questions helped immensely toward making my decision:
1. My “Why”
Why is a change calling me?
What inspires me about it? What scares me?
If I don’t make the move, what will be my regrets?
How will this move serve other important people in my life?
2. My Current Reality
What do I love about my current work and corporate experiences?
How has it fed me? How does it still feed me?
How does it deplete me? What is the impact of that depletion?
Can I make the shift and stay financially stable, albeit with some sacrifice?
3. Know the Signals
What tells me that now is the time to make this kind of move?
What does it feel like to consider the possibility?
What does it feel like to ignore the possibility?
Who around me is ready to support my venture? Who might not be?
4. My Expectations
What am I fantasizing will be different or better?
What am I ready to change, let go of, pursue with passion to thrive in my lifestyle career?
What habits will serve me? Which ones might not? What is my plan for breaking old habits and adopting new ones?
Do I have faith that the void is fertile, that clearing out what I don’t want will make way for new, fulfilling possibilities?
I knew it was crucial to listen to my heart and body (not just my head). I felt the answers swim from my head to my heart and into my belly.
And then I paid attention: Did the answers ground me or shake me? Did they make me sing, cry, and dance, or want to run and hide?
It was also time to trust myself. Throughout this journey, I have offered myself compassion when things didn’t go as planned. In fact, it was during some of these moments when some of the bigger wins happened. The journey constantly reminded me not to hold too tightly.
I tried to stay present with every moment. To acknowledge the small and big successes. And to acknowledge the setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth.
I also reminded myself why I took such a courageous step toward living a life I love. Every day, I do my best to embrace that decision without regret.
And you can too.
Author: Renée Dineen
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May