The End of An Era (Part 2) – The Aftermath of Leaving Corporate America
This is the second of a two-part update on some major changes in Mack’s world.
At the time of this writing, it’s been about six months since I left corporate America (if you missed it, read more about why here.) I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, but this has been a roller coaster of revelation, adventure, and straight-up winging it. I thought I would spend the first year of my new journey kicking butt and taking names. In reality, I have spent the first six months healing and learning. Here are five of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far on my journey.
1. My Body, My Self
Your physical health is truly often a manifestation of your mental and emotional state. When I had my corporate job, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have 6 or more hours of back to back meetings in a day. I ate what I could when I could, and usually, it wasn’t good. The combination of life changes I experienced also made it more challenging to work out. I eventually became unmotivated to be kind to my body.
A month before I left my job, I enrolled in Noom, a psychology-based wellness program to help me manage my weight. Since joining the program, I have lost 13 pounds of my 20-pound goal. The pandemic opened me up to more home workout options, like PopSugar Fitness. I sleep better, feel better about myself, and I don’t have nearly the amount of aches and pains I did before. I have more work to do to get to where I want to be, but I feel more in control of my choices and wellness than I have in a long time.
2. There Is No Such Thing As Enough Time
There really weren’t enough hours in the day. When I was working my old job, I felt like I could never get off the hamster wheel. I would get up in the morning and go straight to work. When I got off work, I’d go straight to cook dinner, run errands, or do chores. Weekends were for tackling all the tasks I couldn’t do during the week. I dreaded the Sunday night gut check because I knew the sands of my time had run out.
I always had good intentions to take time for myself and to work toward my own dreams, but it was like a carrot on a string. The harder I reached, the less attainable my dreams felt. And I was so hard on myself for not reaching my personal goals. I was depressed about it. Now that I am mostly on my own time, I’m doing everything I couldn’t do before, and my days are still stupid full! Looking back, there really weren’t enough hours in the day, and I have to give myself credit for that.
3. My Confidence Was the Greatest Casualty
My default setting is to shoot for the stars, but after a while, I stopped being able to see them. The stars became the moon, the moon became the clouds. When I left my job, I expected to get straight back to business, but I felt this void. Every time I sat down to really work I would get sucked down that void into a black hole of doubt. I second-guessed my ability to do the most basic things. I thought time was the biggest loss from my time in corporate America, but there was really a hole where my confidence used to be.
The biggest part of my journey has been recovering the confidence to dream and do. And I’m totally not there yet. I have to quiet so many thoughts telling me that I was foolish to dream so big or think that people want what I have to offer. I have to be intentional every single day in motivating myself to try again.
4. I Am Grappling With Guilt
I resent myself so much for having not given myself a chance at a career I loved – the one I actually prepared for – immediately after college. Now that I’m in a different place in my life, with much greater responsibility, I have a harder time seeing my dreams past the clouds I spoke of earlier. I struggle with idea that my ship may have sailed and I can only go as far as my canoe will take me. I feel like I let me myself down. Somewhere down the line, I didn’t just give up on my vision, I gave up on myself. Once I got clear with myself about that, it made me really depressed, but it also made me asked myself, “What are you gonna do about it?” I can’t get that time back, and I know it.
Now I am trying to determine what “next” looks like. And you know that canoe I’m sitting in? God is the current in the stream; it matters not how fast my boat can row, but how far and how fast He chooses to move me. I’m trying so hard to just go with it.
5. I Would Do It Again
For all the decisions I wish I could take back, leaving corporate America is not one of them. When the thought crosses my mind, I now know it is rooted in fear, not longing. Being on your own is hard. Figuring out your professional identity when it is no longer being dictated by someone else is hard. The uncertainty is so very hard. I know those thoughts will get fewer and farther between as time goes on, but for now, I’ll just keep moving forward in faith and in freedom.
What is the next step you will take toward your dream? Let us know; we’re rooting for you!