Once upon a time, I had a day job.
“How was work today, sweetheart?” Kyeli asked me when I arrived back at home.
“Oh, it was fine,” I replied while taking off my shoes.
“You say it’s fine, but you don’t sound fine,” said Kyeli.
Something snapped inside of me. I threw up my hands, and this is what came out of my mouth:
“What is my problem?!?!
I get to use everything I studied in school. I get to work on really interesting problems. My coworkers are, for the most part, great to work with and generally awesome people.
The project I get to work on is basically my dream project where I get to do all of the really cool stuff with none of the bullshit.
I get to work from home part-time! And I make butt-tons of money! There are people who would kill to have my job.
There is nothing wrong with this job, so there must be something wrong with me.
What is my problem?
Why can’t I just be grateful for what I’ve got?
Why can’t I just be happy?”
Kyeli held me as my rant softened into sadness. She looked me in the eye and turned my question around: “What is your problem, Pace?”
I replied, “My problem is that my heart isn’t happy. On paper, this job is perfect. But my heart doesn’t care about paper. My heart isn’t logical. My heart isn’t efficient. My heart doesn’t care about job security or money or solving interesting problems. My heart wants to love and to be of service. My heart wants to help people.”
Kyeli asked, “But isn’t the work you’re doing helping people?”
I said, “Sure! Maybe. Sort of, eventually. But it doesn’t feel like it. I can make up a story about how I’m helping people, but that story is in my brain and my heart is like, ‘whatever.’ My heart wants to feel the feeling of helping people, not just hear the story.”
Kyeli took my hand and said, “Then you need to follow your heart, Pace.”
I said, “You’re right. I need to follow my heart.”
The next day…
I went back to work.
All the intense emotions of yesterday had faded down to a pale yearning.
It was fine.
This job is really a great job, when you think about it.
Several months passed.
I convinced myself that “good enough” was as good as it gets, at least for now.
I said, “I’ll follow my heart as soon as I have enough of a nest egg saved up.”
But what I really meant was, “I’m afraid. It’s so scary to uproot everything and make a big change.”
Numbness became a habit.
And then I got a second chance.
One day, I watched a really awesome movie, and my heart spoke up again.
“I need to follow my heart,” I said to Kyeli.
“I hear you and I support you,” she replied. “And I also remember that you’ve felt this way before, but it slipped away. What happened?”
I said, “I was too afraid. It’s like, if we go to the store and bring home a bunch of junk food, I’m gonna eat it. It’s just too easy when it’s right there. But if we don’t buy the junk food in the first place, then I only have to make one good hard decision instead of deciding multiple times every single day.”
Kyeli said, “So your day job is like the cheese factory?”
I said, “Exactly. What I need is one of those lap bars, like on a rollercoaster. The lap bar comes down and BOOM, you’re committed. It’s too late to get off this ride. You can scream and shout, but you might as well put your hands in the air and enjoy the ride. There’s a kind of freedom in commitment.”
Kyeli said, “I know you have a plan, to wait until you have a nest egg and then quit your job. But what if we didn’t wait? What if you quit your job, we sold all our stuff, and we moved into an RV and traveled the country?”
I said, “That would be one hell of a lap bar.”
So we did it.
I quit my day job. We sold 95% of our possessions. We bought an RV and moved into it. We traveled the country.
It was a big change; I did plenty of screaming and shouting as I strugged to adjust.
And then I put my hands in the air and enjoyed the ride.
What’s your lap bar?
Make a commitment to honor your heart over your habit.
It’s difficult (if not impossible) to uphold that commitment on your own.
That’s why I’m gathering this Pathfinding Group.
You’ll be supported by me, plus a small circle of people who all want to learn how to listen to their hearts.
You don’t have to slide back into the habit of numbness, and you don’t have to do it alone.