When I left my corporate job last fall, my number one priority was taking care of myself. Months of high stress at the office had left me sleep deprived, an emotional mess and generally depleted. In my time away, I’ve had ample time to reflect. I’ve reflected on myself, my career goals, my emotions and our family life.
It’s quite baffling that as a society we don’t fully embrace the concept of sabbatical or time away from work, when I found this time to be so unbelievably fulfilling. From extensive volunteer work to accomplishing home projects to simply enjoying life, it was a really happy and meaningful time for me.
In addition to being productive, albeit in new ways, I learned a lot about myself during this time. Some of the things I learned are serious and some are funny, but most of all I felt like I got back in touch with the real Christine. Rediscovering myself and my passions was life changing — in the best possible way:
1. Some people didn’t get it
There were plenty of people in my life who didn’t totally understand why I left my job. Some tried to coax me back. Some lectured me on finding purpose. I knew it all came from a place of love so I usually shrugged off the concerns, because deep down I knew I was doing something really valuable for myself.
2. High heels really don’t belong in my closet anymore
In the five months I’ve been away from the corporate world, I’ve worn heels maybe 10 times. Most of those were my chunky-heeled booties that are reasonably comfortable. I think I’ve put on stilettos twice. My feet thank me.
3. I thrive on structure
The corporate world really worked for me. I’m a girl who embraces structure and likes rules. After leaving my job, I found myself at home without a set schedule and often confused and frustrated by daily life. Soon, I learned how to create new patterns for myself by designating certain times for errands, writing and other activities. Now that I’m studying to be a fitness professional, I have found structure in my study schedule.
4. I love to read
Actually, I always knew this about myself, but I rekindled my love affair with the written word. I find that reading before bed helps me unwind, turn off my brain and sleep better. Speaking of sleep…
5. Sleep is really important for my mental and physical health
When I was working crazy hours, my sleep really suffered, and it showed. I now diligently focus on quality sleep, and the results are not surprising. On a daily basis, I can feel the difference in terms of how I am able to think more clearly and perform more physically demanding tasks like yardwork and the long-distance runs I enjoy so greatly.
6. Many of my old work friends didn’t call, text or email
I had plenty of friends around the office and figured we would stay in touch. In reality, I’ve kept in touch with a small handful of people. In some ways, I’m disappointed, but, really, I get it. Time goes by, and all of a sudden you realize you don’t have as much to talk about with these people anymore. I treasure those who have stayed in my life, since many saw firsthand the stress that was so problematic for me.
7. I found my calling
Fitness is my passion and has always been important to me. Thus, I’m about halfway to my personal-training certification. I recently started looking into health-coaching programs as well. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for my new career path!
My last lesson is a little cheesy, so please don’t unilaterally dismiss it because it sounds that way…
8. I found myself
Buried deep beneath my dark suit and stilettos was a girl gasping for air, searching for independence and interested in being her own boss. I found my sweet spot, as a wife, dog mama, runner, homeowner and budding fitness professional. I’ve never felt better.