I wasn’t quite sure how my colleagues, friends, or family would react to my departure. For a long time, I dreaded that my decision would be met with derision, shaking heads/eye rolls, and full-blown panic attacks respectively.
After months of weighing pros and cons and recalibrating my fears vs what is really likely to happen, I finally got to the point where I had to do it. I just had to. I left my job, taking a full year off the 9-to-5 to focus on the craft of songwriting, to travel, and spend time with loved ones. And the reaction was not quite what I expected.
I am writing this hoping it will help at least one person out there realize that it likely wouldn’t be the end of the world if you wanted to explore something different for a little while. People will support you. And you can still go back. And going back isn’t proof that your idea failed either. We no longer are expected to pick one thing and stick with it all the time, for ever. Take advantage of it.
Below are my favorite reactions and lessons I learned from them.
If you’d like to listen to our music while you read, please do enjoy the embedded @SoundCloud links :)
The song below is called “Risking More”. It was inspired by a quote found on a friend’s Facebook profile around 2008. It read:
“If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”
“Glad to hear that you are taking the time — you would have had more regrets about not trying than you will have about a year’s salary. “
— a colleague
Lesson: Time vs money
Life is both long and short. We have a lifetime to earn a paycheck. Taking a year or two off to launch your business is not such a crazy idea in the grand scheme of things.
“I did a similar thing a few years back — left my job to pursue music production. “
— another colleague
“I just came back from a similar break. I took 8 months off to travel with my spouse. Congratulations!“
— yet another colleague
“I did the same thing for 18 months. It was awesome. You can always come back and everything will be the same. A little different, but mostly the same. I’ll likely to do it again every 10 years or so. “
— yet another colleague
“We’ll miss you. If you’re ever back in the market for a job, definitely let me know. “
— a boss
Lesson: Not that big a deal
They got their jobs back. Nobody thought they were out of their minds. In fact, it seems more people do this than I previously thought. And it is something that is celebrated. Most companies want people to come to work refreshed, energized, focused. If you need to take some time off to do your own thing to get to that state, then do your thing and come back when you’re ready to give it 100% again.
Creativity is becoming more and more salient. To be creative, we have to acquire different experiences. We have to live life in order to find true inspiration and identify real problems to which we can contribute a solution in this world. If you’re running out of ideas, maybe you could benefit from a change of scenery, too.
“I have to admit, I’m a little jealous.”
— many colleagues
Lesson: You’re not alone
More people long to do this same “crazy” thing than you might think.
If you are in a position where you can afford to, and you’re driven to make a passion into a profitable business, just start. Even if you end up going back to a 9-to-5, you’ll have a lot of fun and the experience of a lifetime. I know I am!
“You’re so brave, you’re inspiring me. “
— yet another colleague
Lesson: Bravery is for the beholder
When you acknowledge your authentic self, and how you fit in the market place, and what changes you need to make to maximize both your productivity and your happiness, people won’t think you’re cray-cray. They might actually admire you for daring to do it.
The best part? It’s not even about “daring” to do it. It looks a lot harder on the outside than it really is. While I did take a long time to make the decision and ensure a smooth transition, it didn’t really feel like I was taking a huge risk, and that it was a do or die career move or anything this dramatic. It just felt like I had to do it. It was almost a compulsion. I needed to do my thing for a while.
You don’t have to be or feel like a hero taking huge risks. Just take calculated steps to what is right for you. It’s just a bunch of small steps, one foot in front of the other. Bravery lies in the eye of the beholder.
“So when are you coming to visit? You can stay longer now!“ — Grandma
Yes we can, and yes we will.
Lesson: Time is all we have to give
Your family will be just fine. Just make sure to budget some weeks in there for quality time with them and assure them that your finances are in order. Time together with the whole family is a luxury for those of us who are immigrants. They’ll be happy to see you.
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Written by Sherry-Lynn Lee