It was this quiet voice I kept hearing over and over, “It’s time.” I’d acknowledge it and quickly move on because I wasn’t ready, because I was scared, because I didn’t have enough money saved and because I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I loved my work as a clinical social worker; I’d been at the same company for 8 years and in the same field for 16 years. But things had slowly been changing and the voice was trying to get me to wake up and pay attention to the truth. I wasn’t happy; I felt stuck, stale and restless. And it was spilling over into other areas of my life. I was afraid to admit that it was time to go and even more afraid to figure out what I actually wanted to do. So, I stayed and hoped the “right” job would show up and I could just move on. But that didn’t happen.
And the voice kept getting louder until finally it was screaming at me, “IT’S TIME.” I couldn’t ignore it any longer, I’d reached my tipping point. Something new was calling me and I was finally ready to see what it was.
Feeling brave I took the leap and turned in my resignation without a next job lined up. Riding a wave of confidence inspired by my bold action, I still had to get honest with myself and figure out what I wanted to do. I could find a new job that looked pretty on the outside but in the light of day was just more of the same or I could consider creating a job that made my heart sing again. For most of my professional career, I’d worked in “traditional” environments with an 8-5 schedule, benefits, vacation and a regular paycheck. It was scary to think about letting go of the safety and security of the corporate environment. But if I wanted to live a different life, I had to make different choices. I felt like it was time to take some big risks that offered potential big rewards. I wanted to feel inspired again, to stretch my wings and build new muscles. I listened to my heart and realized that I wanted to build my own counseling business (Yikes? What?). Even though I had a ton of unanswered questions, it felt right.
I am now CEO of my own counseling practice and I’m making it happen. I work with amazing clients who are actively engaged in creating meaningful change and healing in their lives. I ask a lot of questions, use Google often and constantly look at what’s working, what needs tweaking and what comes next (moving to a new office!). I’m learning so much every day. Some days are hard, really hard and some days I’m in the flow and it feels amazing. But it’s all beautiful because it’s mine and I know I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing. And I wouldn’t change a minute of it.
For me, it came down to knowing that I was at a crossroads and I was ready for a big life upgrade. My desires became bigger than my fears and I had to at least try…
Are you contemplating upgrades in your own life? Here are some tips that might be helpful for you:
- Get Crystal Clear On Your Why. Understand your motivation behind the change and make sure it’s for you not because someone else thinks you “should” change. You can keep coming back to this “why” when it gets hard or if you lose your way.
- Take At Least 1 Step Every Day Toward Your Goals. One step is totally do-able and some days, that’s all you’ve got in you. And, it’s enough. I promise.
- Frequent Self-Check-In’s. Be willing to let things go that are no longer serving you and keep updating your dreams.
- Pep Talks On Repeat. Support yourself with consistent motivation and inspiration.
- Stay Connected With Your Inner Circle. These are the people that love, support and totally believe in you and your abilities. And these are also the people that you can call when you’re feeling scared, raw and insecure. Let them help, love and support you.
- Nurture/Build/Strengthen Your Network. You don’t have to do it alone! Surround yourself with people that inspire and elevate you-hint, hint, Creative Souls Tribe.
- Celebrate Your Wins! Be your own biggest cheerleader and celebrate your accomplishments as you go.
- Engage in Self-Care (like your life depends on it-because it does.) Taking care of yourself consistently helps you maintain an overall strong foundation and will also support you during periods of stress and change.
- Refine and Update. Your goals/dreams/desires will evolve as you get into the actual work and learn more about what you truly want and need. Be willing to adjust your actions, goals, and to-do lists based on actual facts and truth, not based on the voices of fear and doubt.
- Expect Setbacks. They will happen even if you’re doing everything “right.”
- Have Humor (I’m giggling as I type that). You’ll need a sense of humor to help you through some (many) moments.
Ali Schaffer is a licensed clinical social worker with a private counseling practice (moving to East Nashville this month) that provides individual and group therapy for adults navigating life transitions, coping with health challenges and desiring to live more fully. Fall groups forming now: Navigating Change and The Art of Noticing. Connect with Ali over on IG @alischaffercounseling or firstname.lastname@example.org
*Photo by Christy Shaterian Photography